Getting into the NFL playoffs isn't easy, getting into the playoffs with a losing record is almost impossible. Only four teams in NFL history have accomplished that dubious feat.
The 2015 Panthers won their division with a 7-8-1 record, the 2010 Seahawks their division with a 7-9 record. The other two teams to make the playoffs with a losing record are the Browns and Lions, who both made it with 4-5 records in 1982 when the NFL only played a nine-game season due to a strike.
The Cowboys have a theoretical chance of winning the NFC East with a 7-9 or 8-8 record. But for that to happen, not only will they have to win at least four of their remaining games, a tall order for a 3-8 team, they'll also need the remaining NFC East teams to continue playing like crap. And that starts tomorrow with the Giants and Eagles, who both need to lose their games, just as the Cowboys need to win theirs on Monday.
The chances of that happening? Depends on who you ask.
Here are three different sources, FiveThirtyEight.com, NFLPickwatch.com and the participants in our Pick 256 Challenge and how they see the odds of the three NFC East games going exactly the way the Cowboys need them to go:
|Favorites in 3 NFC East games, Week 13|
The statisticians at 538.com give the Cowboys a fighting chance, the media experts and algorithms tracked by NFLPickwatch.com think the Cowboys' season will effectively end on Monday night, and the Cowboys fans casting their votes in our Pick 256 challenge remain eternally optimistic, as is their duty as fans.
Here's how the Pick 256 participants picked all 16 games this weekend:
The Cowboys need a lot of luck this weekend to remain in contention for the division lead. And given how unlucky they've been over the first 11 games, perhaps this is where the Cowboys' luck finally turns.
A lot of things need to go right this weekend for the Cowboys to remain in contention. But given how the season has developed so far, is that asking too much from Lady Luck?
Perhaps the Cowboys would be better off using up all their bad luck this year and saving up the good luck for next year.
Here's a link to the Excel file with all the picks for Week 13, for those who are interested in tracking the results themselves.
Once you open the file, you'll see a blue title bar into which you can enter the winning teams to see where you end up among all participants. The title bar is currently populated with the winner of the Thursday game, as well as the consensus picks for the remaining games. If you want to see how you fared during or after the weekend games, simply input your own picks into the title bar and see how many correct picks you have.
In any case, have fun with the file and good luck with your picks.