We have almost completed Week 17 in the NFL, with only the Cleveland Browns and the Pittsburgh Steelers yet to play. Normally, that would mean the NFL season is over, but this year (and in the future) there will be a Week 18. As such, playoff seeding is not totally set yet, but we’re getting a good idea of how things will shake out.
With the Dallas Cowboys losing to the Arizona Cardinals, and the Green Bay Packers beating the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday night, the Cowboys fell in the rankings and can not get the top seed now. The Cowboys were hoping to grab the No. 1 seed by winning out — and getting a Packers’ loss. The Cowboys couldn’t hold up their end of the deal so the Packers will now be the top team in the NFC.
That’s doubly troublesome for Dallas. They play much better at home than on the road, so a trip to Lambeau Field will be tricky. The weather in Green Bay can be treacherous, and the Packers are better acclimated to that type of weather than Dallas. It’s not insurmountable, but another obstacle for Dallas to overcome to get where they want to go.
Dallas isn’t locked into the No. 4 seed, although it is the most likely finish. The Cowboys vs. Philadelphia Eagles Week 18 game was moved to Saturday, Jan. 8 at 8:15 p.m. ET. Following that, the Cowboys’ most likely scenario is they will be the No. 4 seed and face whoever loses out on the NFC West title between the Los Angeles Rams and the Arizona Cardinals. But there are other scenarios that are mapped out in this handy graphic by Deniz Selman on Twitter.
Here are the takeaways for the Dallas Cowboys:
- If the Rams beat the 49ers, the Cowboys are locked into the No. 4 seed versus the Cardinals in the wild card round
- If the 49ers win and the Cardinals beat the Seahawks, the Dallas is the No. 4 seed and play the Rams in the wild card round
- If the 49ers, Seahawks and Buccaneers win, and Dallas loses, the Cowboys are the No. 4 seed and play the Cardinals in the wild card round
- If the 49ers, Seahawks and Buccaneers win, and Dallas wins, the Cowboys are the No. 3 seed and face the 49ers in the wild card round
- If the 49ers, Seahawks and Panthers win, and Dallas loses, the Cowboys are the No. 4 seed and face the Cardinals in the wild card round
- If the 49ers, Seahawks and Panthers win, and Dallas wins, the Cowboys are the No. 2 seed and face the Eagles in the wild card round
Most roads lead to the No. 4 seed for Dallas, with a rematch against Arizona.
Here is where the NFC stands at the moment (all games in Week 17 played).
No. 1 Green Bay Packers (13-3): Green Bay has locked down the top seed in the NFC with their win over the Vikings.
No. 2 Los Angeles Rams (12-4): They still haven't locked up their division, but took the Cowboys No. 2 seed.
No. 3 Tampa Bay Buccaneers (12-4): They lost head-to-head with the Rams earlier this year, but hold the head-to-head over Dallas if it comes to that.
No. 4 Dallas Cowboys (11-5): A hard fall.
No. 5 Arizona Cardinals (11-5): They are still fighting to win their division, and would swap spots with the Rams if they do.
No. 6 San Francisco 49ers (9-7): The 49ers still haven’t clinched a berth, but they are ahead of the Eagles because of a head-to-head win.
No. 7 Philadelphia Eagles (9-7): The Eagles have clinched with the Vikings loss.
The New Orleans Saints still are in the hunt.
The AFC still needs the result of the Browns and Steelers game, but as of this moment, this is how it looks in that conference.
No. 2 Kansas City Chiefs (11-5): The loss on Sunday knocked them out of the top spot. Now they have to win and hope the Titans lose next week.
No. 3 Cincinnati Bengals (10-6): They clinched their division on Sunday, and they could still sneak into the top spot with losses by the Chiefs and Titans in Week 18.
No. 4 Buffalo Bills (10-6): The Bills got a playoff berth, but still haven't sewn up the division and need a win or a New England loss.
No. 5 New England Patriots (10-6): They got a playoff berth, but they need Buffalo to lose next week, and win their game, to win the AFC East and jump into the fourth seed.
No. 6 Indianapolis Colts (9-7): They are fighting for a berth and lead the teams that are tied with seven losses.
* The Pittsburgh Steelers are still alive pending their game on Monday night.