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Cowboys Playoff Tracker: How the win over Atlanta improves Cowboys’ playoff chances

Still a long way to go for the Cowboys, but things are looking up.

Atlanta Falcons v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

It’s early days in the NFL with just two games in the book, but it already looks as if for the Cowboys, the NFC East is there for the taking.

Fivethirtyeight.com currently shows the Cowboys as the clear favorites to win the NFC East.

In the above ranking, the Cowboys are ranked 12th overall, the Eagles are ranked 21st. The Giants and Washington round out the NFC East (and most of the rest of the league) ranked 29th and 30th.

It may be a bit early to talk about the division title, but it’s never too early to talk about the playoffs - even if some eager beaver is already frantically searching for the Jim Mora “Playoffs? Playoffs?” gif to offer a never-before-seen rebuttal to this playoff talk.

Don’t be that guy.

If you read our playoff tracker from last week, you’ll know that the season for the 0-2 Giants and 0-2 Eagles could already be over if they lose next week: since realignment in 2002, 88 teams started the season 0-3. Only three of those 88 teams made the playoffs, that’s a historic playoff chance of about 3%.

For Washington and Dallas, the playoff door remains open: teams that started 1-1 have a 48% chance of finishing among the top seven seeds in the conference, thus qualifying for the playoffs this year.

The Cowboys next travel to Seattle and then host the Browns in Week 4, and after the first quarter of the season, they could have a 3-1, 2-2, or 1-3 record. Here’s what the the data since 2002 shows as the average regular season win total for each of those W/L records:

Average wins by record after Week 4, since 2002
Record after Week 4 3-1 2-2 1-3
Average season wins 9.7 8.1 6.1

In the table at the top of this post, Fivethirtyeight also predicts records for the four NFC East teams. The Cowboys are projected for a 9-7 record, the Eagles and Washington go neck-and-neck with 6-10 seasons, and the Giants are projected to finish 5-10, probably heading for the sixth Top 10 draft pick in the last seven years.

We’ll continue monitoring the Cowboys’ playoff chances every week, and it would sure be nice if we could talk about a 2-1 record after next week.