If you want to believe the Cowboys are doomed forever, that they won’t make the playoffs this season, and whatever else, it’s up to you, my friend.
If you want to believe the Cowboys are still alive, have hope, and want to know what that hope is, you’ve come to the right place, my friend.
Last week here at BTB I went into detail about the things that could seriously influence the Cowboys playoff chances:
- 19 games across the NFC
- The Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- The Chicago Bears
- The Baltimore Ravens
- Jimmy Garoppolo
- David Johnson
Now that Week 11 of the 2017 season is in the books, we have more data to digest and add in to our thought process. The state of the top teams in the NFC entering Week 12 did indeed change:
Philadelphia, Minnesota, New Orleans, and Atlanta all won in Week 11. The Falcons win in particular was a big one in the boost of the Cowboys playoff sails (find out why here). This tells us more of what we need to have happen moving forward.
It would work best for the Cowboys if the current division winners all won their respective division, particularly the Rams (Los Angeles has the tiebreaker over Dallas).
Roll Vikings Roll
Minnesota has a chance to severely boost the Cowboys playoff chances in each of the next three weeks. They are all road games for the Vikings as they travel to Detroit (Thanksgiving), Atlanta, and Carolina.
Should former Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer help out his old team, that’s one loss to each of those Wildcard-contending teams at minimum. Obviously we want them to win all of those games, but any single one they win is valuable.
What will be interesting is if Minnesota defeats only one of Atlanta and Carolina. If that’s the case then Dallas will want whoever lost to the Vikings to be the one that wins the regular-season finale between the Falcons and Panthers.
Another former Dallas Cowboys staffer has a chance to boost their postseason odds, New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton.
The Saints head to Los Angeles, host Carolina, then travel to Atlanta over the next three weeks. While we want the Saints to win the NFC South, it would be nice if they lost to the Rams so that LA stays all the more ahead of Seattle in the NFC West.
What’s more important is the Week 13 and 14 contests for the Saints within their division. They’re playing what are right now Wildcard-contenders, and if they can help us out on top of the Vikings by beating the Panthers and/or Falcons then we’re in even greater business.
Some Seahawks breaks
Over the next three weeks the Cowboys could use a weird set of contributing factors when it comes to the Seattle Seahawks.
First of all, the Seahawks travel to face the San Francisco 49ers this week. Kyle Shanahan’s crew is coming off of their first win of the season two weeks ago against the Giants, and since they are coming off of their bye, they could unveil Jimmy Garoppolo.
Jimmy G against a Seahawks team that is without Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor? The Patriot-turned-49er could seriously help.
Secondly, next week the Seahawks host the Philadelphia Eagles. I’ve said this many times, and that’s because it’s important. If you want the Cowboys in the playoffs, we’re going to have to root for the Eagles in this game.
Philadelphia is going to win the NFC East and likely secure a first-round bye. Another win to their name doesn’t influence us at all, but a Seahawks loss certainly does. It will burn, but it will be worth it if the Eagles end up helping us in the process.
Finally, the Seahawks have to travel all the way across the country in Week 14 to play the currently 7-3 Jacksonville Jaguars. This is partly why it was big that Atlanta defeated Seattle in Week 11.
While the Jaguars are certainly relevant at Thanksgiving for the first time in forever, we do not want to be in a position where our hopes are pinned to Blake Bortles. If they win, great, but we can’t count on that because, well Blake Bortles.
Whatever the Buccanners can do will help significantly
Over the next five weeks the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will have a chance to hand a loss to a team competing with the Cowboys for a Wildcard spot:
The Packers are likely going to continue their slow collapse, which kind of sucks honestly. Green Bay visits Carolina, hosts Minnesota, and visits Detroit in the final three weeks, it would be great for them to help us. Maybe they still will, who knows.
Either way, still somewhat including the Packers game, the Buccaneers (2-0 with Ryan Fitzpatrick) can dish out wins or losses to other teams we’re competing with. We want them to be losses.
It’s slightly less difficult to count on the Buccaneers than it is the Jaguars, but there is no Blake Bortles here so it hurts just a teeny bit less.
Win whatever you can, Bucs. Help us out. And again, should the Bucs beat the Falcons but lose to the Panthers, then we want the Falcons to beat the Panthers in the season finale (or vice versa).
This is a hectic time when it comes to playoff proceedings and what can or cannot happen. Obviously, the most important element to all of this is the Cowboys winning their own games.
Dallas has a softer schedule than most in terms of the season’s final six games. If they can pull off five, maybe four, wins then depending on what else happens, they could be in business for a ticket to the playoffs.