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Cowboys could effectively be playing for a bye week against the Buccaneers

Dallas would certainly enjoy the rest a win would bring.

Dallas Cowboys v Indianapolis Colts Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

This Sunday the Dallas Cowboys have an opportunity, for the second week in a row, to clinch the NFC East. We all know that.

All of this has been made possible by the Cowboys pulling off perhaps the NFL’s most improbable five-game winning streak this season, a run which was snapped last week in Indianapolis. Cowboys fans everywhere were hoping for that good momentum to continue for the purposes of securing a division title and perhaps even a little bit more.

Entering Week 15 odds weren’t exactly high but there was at the very least a legitimate shot that Dallas could secure the NFC’s third seed over the Chicago Bears. With the Windy City team picking up a win and securing their own division crown last week over the Green Bay Packers, that became all the more difficult.

NFC Standings entering Week 16:

  1. New Orleans Saints: 12-2 overall, 9-2 in conference
  2. Los Angeles Rams: 11-3 overall, 7-3 in conference
  3. Chicago Bears: 10-4 overall, 8-2 in conference
  4. Dallas Cowboys: 8-6 overall, 7-3 in conference

The Cowboys are actually the only team listed here who has not clinched their division. As noted all they need is one more win (or a loss from both Washington and Philadelphia) to do so. You can quickly see, though, that with two games left the odds of catching anyone here are very unlikely.

As Dallas is sitting on eight wins and can only mathematically achieve 10 they are not catching either the Saints or Rams. One more win from the Bears would mean that the Cowboys can’t catch them either which would, assuming Dallas locks up the NFC East, cement America’s Team as the fourth seed in the conference.

It’s extremely likely that Chicago wins on Sunday

The Bears will visit the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday and while they did just beat the Seattle Seahawks at home there aren’t exactly a large amount of NFL teams that are afraid of Kyle Shanahan’s current squad. It’s very likely that the Bears win on Sunday which means that the Cowboys would in fact have a peak of the fourth seed entering the playoffs.

This all assumes a Cowboys victory and there’s obviously the whole “I’m not going to assume any of this until it happens” side of logic; however, looking ahead, it’s quite possible that the Cowboys are playing for an effective bye in the regular season’s final week.

Assume then that both the Bears and Cowboys win on Sunday. This would give the Cowboys nothing to play for in Week 17 and would afford them the opportunity to rest some of their ailing players (there are certainly some of those). We saw Dallas sit in a meaningless situation four years ago when they went to Washington and Jason Garrett didn’t exactly take his foot off of the gas (yes, a real sentence) but these are different times.

Nobody wants to go to New York with the division on the line so it would be quite nice of the Cowboys headed there with nothing on it at all. In a way, it almost makes sense to root for the Bears as well so that things can force the Cowboys to rest a bit.


Are you rooting for the Bears on Sunday (assuming a Cowboys win)?

This poll is closed

  • 53%
    Yes: I want the situation to make sense to rest
    (801 votes)
  • 46%
    No: I want them playing all the way through Week 17
    (692 votes)
1493 votes total Vote Now

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