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Cowboys rooting guide for Week 16

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We all know who we should be rooting for, but we might have to make halftime adjustments.

NFL: New Orleans Saints at Atlanta Falcons Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

If the Cowboys are to make the playoffs, they not only need to win their last two games of the season, but need some help from other teams. By now, most of us are aware that we need two of the following for things to happen:

  • Detroit lose one game (CIN, GB)
  • Atlanta lose two games (NO, CAR)
  • Carolina lose two games (TB, ATL)
  • New Orleans lose two games (ATL, TB)

It doesn’t matter which two happen, but they have to have a couple of these conditions met and they’re running out of time. For today, the most ideal situation would be if this happened:

This would be a great early present for the Cowboys as they would then enter their afternoon contest with the Seattle Seahawks in complete control of their own destiny. Of course, for all of these things to happen would be a Christmas miracle and we should all brace ourselves that we will have to sweat it out next week. That’s fine. We can do that, however - it would be nice if some things happened for it not to be such a long-shot next weekend.

For example, today is the best shot for Detroit to lose. We are all big Cincinnati Bengals fans today. However, after watching the Brett Hundley-led Green Bay Packers get shut out by the Minnesota Vikings on Saturday, not many think the Lions will lose next week. So if the Lions start laying the hurt on the Bengals, the Cowboys could see their playoff chances start to dwindle.

If that happens, the Cowboys still can get in with two losses from two NFC South teams. But remember, Atlanta and Carolina both play each other next week so both of them can’t lose. That means the Cowboys need very specific results if they are sneak into the playoffs through the backdoor. Our rooting interests should then become:

Tampa Bay to beat Carolina - this doesn’t change. We are rooting for the Buccaneers to win this game regardless of the outcome of any other game. We want Carolina to have something to play for next week and the possibility of two-straight losses could end up bouncing them from the playoffs.

Atlanta to beat New Orleans - this one is the weird one. Why would we want that? Well, if we believe the Packers have no shot to beat the Lions next week, then the Cowboys must have two losses from NFC South teams and since both Atlanta and Carolina cannot lose next week - one of those losses has to be the Saints. Yes, the Saints play the Buccaneers next week and in this scenario, we’d be asking Tampa Bay to play spoilers two weeks in a row. This isn’t an ideal situation by any means, but any extra lottery ball we can throw in the mix helps.

We may start the day rooting for one team, but then may have to shift our attention elsewhere by halftime.