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NFL Playoff Picture: Cowboys Create Further Separation After Thanksgiving Weekend

How the NFL Playoff picture is shaping up after Thanksgiving weekend, for both the NFC and AFC.

Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

On Friday, one day after the three Thanksgiving games, we summarized the NFL Playoff picture here on Blogging The Boys.

Yesterday, the Cowboys took another step on that march when they beat Washington 31-26. They got the trifecta from that victory - a win, a win in the conference, and a win in their division.

Dallas is maintaining its lead on the Seattle Seahawks who are their closest challenger in the NFC. The Cowboys are also a tidy 6-1 in conference play while Seattle is 3-2-1.

The NFC East is still representing with both Washington and New York in the playoff picture pending the games this weekend.

On Sunday, losses by the Seahawks and Vikings, combined with wins by the Giants and Falcons, didn't do much to shake up the overall playoff picture.

Seed Team Record Rationale
1 Dal_medium Dallas 10-1 NFC East Champion
2 Sea_medium Seattle 7-3-1 NFC West Champion
3 Det_medium Detroit 7-4 NFC North Champion
4 Atl_medium Atlanta 7-4 NFC South Champion
5 Nyg_medium New York 8-3 Wiildcard #1
Was_medium Washington 6-4-1 Wildcard #2
Tb_medium Tampa Bay 6-5 Wins tie break over MIN
Min_medium Minnesota 6-5 - -
9 Phi_medium Philadelphia 5-5 Plays Green Bay tonight
10 No_medium New Orleans
5-6 - -

The Cowboys sit atop the playoff seedings and gained a little more separation against the other division leaders with Seattle's loss in Tampa Bay. Despite a loss in Tampa, Seattle is still a half game ahead of Detroit and Atlanta, and would have a first round bye along with Dallas. Detroit holds the conference record tiebreaker over Atlanta, and therefore remains the third seed. The two Wild Card teams are still New York (won) and Washington (lost).

If the Eagles win tonight, they move into a three-way tie with Tampa Bay and Minnesota, and all three would be half a game back from a wildcard spot. If the Eagles lose tonight, they drop out of the NFC Top Ten; the Saints would move up a spot and the Packers would take the No. 10 spot in the chart above.

Since realignment in 2002, when the NFL moved to eight divisions of four teams each, there have been three playoff participants from a single division (the division winner plus both wild cards) six times, most recently in 2014 when the once mighty AFC North sent Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, and Baltimore to the playoffs. The NFC East has done it twice, in 2006 and 2007, and could pull off the feat once more this season.

That's quite a change for a division that last sent more than one team to the playoffs in 2009. Still, if you're going to watch football tonight, feel free to root against the Eagles as per usual.

Included below is a table of how the AFC playoff picture is shaping up, which should allow Giants fans to easily sum up the numbers of divisions they would be leading with an 8-3 record - if they weren't stuck two games behind the Cowboys in the NFC East.

Seed Team Record Rationale
1 Ne_medium New England 9-2 AFC East Champion
2 Oak_medium Oakland 9-2 AFC West Champion
3 Bal_medium Baltimore 6-5 AFC North Champion
4 Hou_medium Houston 6-5 AFC South Champion
5 Kc_medium Kansas City 8-3 Wildcard #1
Mia_medium Miami 7-4 Wildcard #2

Den_medium Denver 7-4 - -
Pit_medium Pittsburgh 6-5 Wins tiebreak over BUF
9 Buf_medium Buffalo 6-5 - -
10 Ten_medium Tennessee 6-6 - -

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