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NFC playoff picture: Cowboys path to the playoffs becomes clearer

The Cowboys win streak is at three, helping them keep playoff hope alive.

NFL: Dallas Cowboys at Oakland Raiders Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Even though the Dallas Cowboys had been winning over the past couple of weeks, they never moved up in the playoff seeding. They were stuck at 10th in the NFC, but now they have moved up one spot thanks to Carolina beating Green Bay.

They still need help to get to the playoffs, and tonight would be a great opportunity to pick up some ground. The Atlanta Falcons close out Week 15 with a game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. If the Bucs win, the Falcons would drop down into the 8-6 mess with the Lions, the Seahawks and the Cowboys.

The Cowboys path to the playoffs has become much clearer. They essentially need three things to happen:

  1. The Cowboys need to win their last two games against the Seahawks and the Eagles.
  2. The Lions need to lose once to either the Bengals or the Packers.
  3. Either the Falcons, Panthers or Saints need to lose their final two games (or two of their final three in the case of the Falcons).

The Falcons finish with Tampa Bay, New Orleans and Carolina.

The Panthers finish with Tampa Bay and Atlanta.

The Saints finish with Atlanta and Tampa Bay.

From those schedules, it still looks like the Cowboys best bet is for the Falcons to lose to New Orleans and Carolina. Otherwise, we are banking on Tampa Bay jumping into the picture with an upset somewhere along the way to help Dallas out.

Also, the Lions are still a big issue. The Packers are essentially out of it, so will they shut down Aaron Rodgers? Dallas needs either the Bengals or the Packers to beat Detroit in these final two weeks. It’s possible that this scenario is the one that keeps Dallas out of the playoffs.

There are other crazy combinations you can work, but essentially the path to the playoffs relies on a loss from Detroit, and two losses from one of the NFC South teams still in contention.

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