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NFL Playoff Tracker: Cowboys back in the playoff race

We’re back to talking playoff odds, even at 3-7!

Dallas Cowboys v Minnesota Vikings Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

[Ed. Note] We are aware of the events that happened at the Star this morning. We recognize the seriousness of the situation and want everyone to know that it is in our thoughts. It’s hard to know the right thing to do at the moment, but we are going to continue posting coverage of the Cowboys while we wait for more information. Hopefully everyone understands. [End Note]


The Cowboys just won their first game after losing four in a row, and immediately we’re back to talking playoffs.

Yeah, you read that right. At 3-7, we’re talking playoff odds.

Suck it up, buttercup.

If the other NFC East teams continue to play the way they’ve been playing, there is a chance the Cowboys could still qualify for the playoffs, even with a losing record.

Here’s what some of the advanced stats sites out there show as the Cowboys’ current playoff odds:

FiveThirtyEight.com

538.com calculates playoff odds by taking into account score differential, last season’s record (to an extent), the unexpected nature of each team’s wins, and more. Mix it all together and the site gives the Cowboys a 32% chance of making the playoffs, just five percentage points behind the division-leading Eagles.

Team Record Playoff Odds
PHI 3-6-1 37%
DAL 3-7 32%
NYG 3-7 20%
WAS 3-7 12%

Football Outsiders

Another source for playoff odds comes from our good friends at Football Outsiders. They see the NFC East teams topping out at six wins, with the Giants getting the division win over the Eagles and Cowboys.

Team Record Projected Wins Playoff Odds
NYG 3-7 5.6 32.7%
PHI 3-6-1 5.7 26.4%
DAL 3-7 5.6 24.1%
WAS 3-7 5.3 16.8%

ESPN’s FPI

ESPN’s Football Power Index (FPI) uses expected points added per play to calculate offensive, defensive, and special teams efficiency. For the playoff projections, the FPI data is married with team strength, opponent strength, home-field advantage, QB injuries/suspensions/absences, and adjusted for such oddities as travel distance, altitude and other seasonal effects.

And that combination of data currently gives the Cowboys the lowest playoff odds in the NFC East.

Team Record Projected Wins Playoff Odds
PHI 3-6-1 5.5 44.3%
NYG 3-7 5.4 23.9%
WAS 3-7 5.3 17.8%
DAL 3-7 5.1 14.1%

New York Times Playoff Tracker

The times provides some commentary to go with their playoff odds.

The Dallas Cowboys are 3-7. And yet they’re barely behind the division-leading Philadelphia Eagles (3-6-1) in the N.F.C. East, with about a one-in-four chance of a playoff berth. Not bad, all things considered.

An 8-8 record is probably not what Cowboys fans dreamed of in a year many thought they were Super Bowl contenders, but right now many fans would certainly take it. Given their division, it would probably be enough.

Team Record Playoff Odds
PHI 3-6-1 42%
DAL 3-7 23%
NYG 3-7 20%
WAS 3-7 15%

The Athletic

The Athletic offers up an interesting hypothetical scenario, in which all NFC East teams end up with five wins this year. In that scenario, the Eagles take the division based on their one tied game that puts them ahead of the other teams by the slightest of margins.

Team Record Projected Record Playoff Odds
PHI 3-6-1 5-10-1 30.6%
NYG 3-7 5-11 25.0%
DAL 3-7 5-11 23.5%
WAS 3-7 5-11 21.0%

So there you have it, the Cowboys are back in the playoff race, like it or not.