While the Cowboys did their part during Thanksgiving week by beating the Giants, the rest of the Week 12 schedule mostly didn’t go Dallas’ way. Hopefully, things swing more favorably in Week 13 as we get ever closer to the playoffs.
The Eagles got pressed by the Packers but ultimately pulled out the victory. Dallas needs at least one loss by Philadelphia in another game so that their Week 16 showdown gives the Cowboys a shot at taking the NFC East. The way things look now, the division crown this year likely comes with the number-one seed in the NFC playoffs.
Last week’s results also allowed Washington to climb the fence into a wild card spot. If the playoffs started now, the entire NFC East would be in the tournament. An entire division making the postseason has only happened once before in 1998 when the AFC East did it, but this was back when there were only three divisions and three wild card spots.
In 2002, the NFL went to four divisions and only had two wild card spots in the playoffs. This made it impossible for an entire division to get in until the recent addition of a seventh playoff team.
Here are the NFC playoff standings going into Week 13:
- Philadelphia Eagles (10-1 overall, 6-1 vs NFC)
- Minnesota Vikings (9-2 overall, 6-2 vs NFC)
- San Francisco 49ers (7-4 overall, 6-2 vs NFC)
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-6 overall, 5-2 vs NFC)
- Dallas Cowboys (8-3 overall, 7-3 vs NFC)
- New York Giants (7-4 overall, 3-4 vs NFC)
- Washington Commanders (7-5 overall, 4-4 vs NFC)
With the table set, let’s dig into the schedule and see how this week’s games can help or hurt the Cowboys.
Colts @ Cowboys
Past Cowboys teams have been known to give away the respectively easier games on their schedule. The last thing anybody wants is to resurrect talk of Dallas’ usual December swoons. Plus, with Philadelphia facing a tough test against Tennessee, it would be soul-crushing for the Cowboys to blow an opportunity to close the gap.
Titans @ Eagles
Nobody’s confused about what we want to happen here. Outside of their remaining division games, the Eagles probably don’t have a tougher game on their schedule than this one. The Titans are 7-4 and present some solid matchup issues for Philly, particularly with Derrick Henry and their rushing attack. After watching the Eagles nearly get upset by the Colts and Packers in recent weeks, could this opponent finally finish the job?
Giants @ Commanders
This one could almost go either way depending on which team you hate more or would rather see make the playoffs. But with the Giants having both of their games against the Eagles still to play, the Cowboys want New York to stay invested in this season for as long as possible. Also, the Cowboys own the tie-breaker against the Giants while they could still split with the Commanders. With the slightest of margins, I’m going for the G-Men here to keep them fighting and hopefully helping us later against Philly.
Jets @ Vikings
If the Cowboys do end up winning the NFC East, they’ll need to at least be tied with Minnesota in overall record to also get the number-one seed. Right now they’re a game ahead of us so we need a slip at some point, and this interconference game is as good a time as any.
Dolphins @ 49ers
While San Francisco is probably getting a little too much love right now, they’re definitely one of the scarier teams in the conference. Seattle winning NFC West will at least keep the Niners from getting a home game in the playoffs, if not eliminating them completely from the tournament. A loss here would help.
Seahawks @ Rams
Obviously, Seattle needs to win their game to take advantage of a potential 49ers’ loss. While the Seahawks would also make for a tough opponent in the postseason, it’s better than San Francisco.
Saints @ Bucs
The NFC South just might put a team with a losing record into the playoffs. For all that Tampa Bay has struggled this year, anybody would like to see Marcus Mariota in January rather than Tom Brady. Not only would a Saints win help the cause, but we also want their 2023 first-round pick (belonging to the Eagles) to be as far down the draft order as possible.
Steelers @ Falcons
Need I say more?