Last week saw some big changes in the NFC playoff picture and our perception of some current contenders. It was certainly a positive week for the Dallas Cowboys, and we’re hoping for more of the same as we head into Week 12.
Dallas’ big win over Minnesota helped them move back up into the top wild card spot and preserve distance from the cutoff line. It also kept them within reach of the Eagles in the NFC East. But perhaps most importantly, their dominance over the previously 8-1 Vikings was a major statement to the league about what the Cowboys are capable of this season.
Based on that and other results, here are the updated standings going into Thanksgiving week:
- Philadelphia Eagles (9-1 overall, 5-1 vs NFC)
- Minnesota Vikings (8-2 overall, 6-2 vs NFC)
- San Francisco 49ers (6-4 overall, 5-2 vs NFC)
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-5 overall, 5-2 vs NFC)
- Dallas Cowboys (7-3 overall, 6-3 vs NFC)
- New York Giants (7-3 overall, 3-3 vs NFC)
- Seattle Seahawks (6-4 overall, 4-4 vs NFC)
- Washington Commanders (6-5 overall, 3-4 vs NFC)
- Atlanta Falcons (5-6 overall, 4-4 vs NFC)
While the Seahawks rested on their bye, the 49ers pulled even in overall record and took the top spot in the NFC West. San Francisco currently holds a head-to-head tiebreaker from their Week 2 victory, but Seattle has a chance to nullify that in Week 15.
The Cowboys are also benefiting from a tiebreaker right now, and it will be on the line when they face the New York Giants this Thursday. Let’s dive into that matchup and all of the relevant NFC action in our Week 12 rooting guide.
Giants @ Cowboys
One glance at the standings tells you how important this Thanksgiving showdown is for these longtime foes. Whether it’s keeping pace with Philly in the NFC East, or just maintaining their position in the wild card race, both Dallas and New York have critical needs beyond their rivalry.
For the Cowboys, a win here also cements their head-to-head advantage over the Giants. They won the Week 3 meeting in New York during Cooper Rush’s heroic run. The G-Men need this win to nullify that tiebreaker and pull other factors into a possible end-of-season tie with Dallas.
Packers @ Eagles
The Colts almost did us a solid last week, and now we have to hope that Green Bay can finish the job. Unfortunately, the Packers looked like a 4-7 team again in their loss to Tennessee and not the bullies Dallas allowed them to be in Week 10. The Eagles will be looking to right the ship after two ugly weeks, which could make this a blowout if the wrong versions of both squads show up.
Patriots @ Vikings
If the Cowboys do end up catching Philly and winning the NFC East, it’d be nice for that to come with a first-round bye and home-field advantage. The Vikings’ two losses this year are to Dallas and Philadelphia, so that’s severely damaged their hopes of moving into the top spot. But more losses certainly don’t hurt.
Bucs @ Browns
Tampa’s hold on the NFC South is tenuous with Atlanta closing in at 5-6. Dallas would much rather see Marcus Mariota in a playoff game than Tom Brady, so hope the Falcons do eventually take the division. The Browns may not be the team to help matters this week, but the Bucs are coming off a bye and may not be in rhythm for this one.
Falcons @ Commanders
This is a tough one as a win by either team is good for Dallas. We just mentioned wanting to see Atlanta knock Tampa out of the playoffs. But we could also see Washington slide into the wild card race and help knock off the 49ers or Seahawks, depending on which team is eventually the runner-up in the NFC West. It’s mostly a push, but the Falcons probably help the Cowboys just a little more.
Saints @ 49ers
If Dallas does wind up as a wild card team, they would want to head to Seattle in the first round rather than San Francisco. That means hoping the Seahawks take the division and the Niners drop back into a wild card spot, if not out of the playoffs completely. We can freely pull for New Orleans in this one.
Raiders @ Seahawks
Naturally, Seattle also has to win to eventually retake the NFC West. If you agree with me that they’re the better potential opponent in January, then it makes sense to root for them here.