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Week 15 rooting guide for Cowboys fans

The potential outcomes that can most help or hurt Dallas’ playoff positioning.

NFL: DEC 11 Texans at Cowboys Photo by John Rivera/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

We’ve reached the final four games of the 2022 regular season, meaning focus has naturally shifted to the upcoming playoffs. Some games have no relevance to the postseason, but others could have a significant impact with only a few weeks to go. With the Dallas Cowboys nearly guaranteed a spot in the tournament, we are especially concerned with how this week’s outcomes impact them.

Two big developments from last week were the Eagles’ dominant victory over the Giants and the Vikings’ loss to the Lions. Even if the Cowboys can hang a loss on Philly in two weeks, it won’t matter if the Eagles don’t lose at least one more game down the stretch. New York was arguably the best candidate to help Dallas in that regard but didn’t even make it a contest against the current NFC leader.

Minnesota’s loss to Detroit helped ensure that whoever wins the NFC East will likely get the top seed in the playoffs. Now tied with Dallas at 10-3 overall. the Vikings have head-to-head losses against both the Cowboys and Eagles which would serve as the first tiebreakers.

Before we dive into the Week 15 matchups and their potential impact, here are the current NFC playoff standings:

  1. Philadelphia Eagles (12-1 overall, 7-1 vs NFC)
  2. Minnesota Vikings (10-3 overall, 6-3 vs NFC)
  3. San Francisco 49ers (9-4 overall, 7-2 vs NFC)
  4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-7 overall, 6-3 vs NFC)
  5. Dallas Cowboys (10-3 overall, 7-3 vs NFC)
  6. Washington Commanders (7-5-1 overall, 4-4-1 vs NFC)
  7. New York Giants (7-5-1 overall, 3-5-1 vs NFC)

In Range

  • Seattle Seahawks (7-6 overall, 5-5 vs NFC)
  • Detroit Lions (6-7 overall, 5-4 vs NFC)

The only tiebreaker currently in play is Washington’s slightly superior record in NFC East games. Their upset over the Eagles earlier this year gives them one win in the division, which is one more than the Giants currently have.

Unfortunately for Dallas, their head-to-head win over Minnesota doesn’t override the Vikings being a division winner. The Cowboys are stuck with a wild card spot unless they can catch the Eagles and take the NFC East.

Could this week’s game help pull Dallas closer to Philadelphia? Let’s take a closer look.

Cowboys @ Jaguars

After nearly getting embarrassed by the Texans last Sunday, Dallas shouldn’t be taking anyone lightly going forward. Jacksonville has won three of their last five, including one against the playoff-bound Ravens, and QB Trevor Lawrence seems to be finding his groove. A win here clinches a playoff spot for the Cowboys, but not necessarily as the fifth seed.

Eagles @ Bears

Chicago’s lost six straight and plummeted to the bottom of the NFC. The idea that they could beat Philadelphia seems pretty wild at this point, but crazier things have happened. With this one nestled between rivalry games against the Giants and Cowboys, the Eagles have the potential for a letdown in a classic “trap game” scenario.

Colts @ Vikings

It’s more realistic at this point that Dallas won’t win the NFC East. If that’s true, we’d rather see Minnesota get the number-one seed and force the Eagles to play an additional playoff game. That would also improve the possibility that the Cowboys wouldn’t have to play Philly until the NFC Championship Game. So how you root here depends entirely on your belief in whether or not Dallas will wind up as division champs.

49ers @ Seahawks

The Niners could clinch the NFC West with a win here against their rivals. Seattle will be playing to stay alive in the division and in the wild card hunt having slipped out of a playoff spot with last week’s loss to Carolina. We don’t know if Brock Purdy’s big night against Tampa will carry into future weeks, but the Niners remain the scarier potential playoff opponent. Hopefully, the Seahawks can give them a reality check.

Giants @ Commanders

Tied up in just about every way possible, this one’s like an early playoff game for New York and Washington. It will secure a head-to-head tiebreaker for one of them and leave the other on the razor’s edge of the playoffs. If the Cowboys aren’t going to get a bye week in the playoffs, it’d be nice for their Week 18 finale against the Commanders to have no postseason significance. That would allow key players to rest and prep for the first round. If you believe in that scenario, then hope that Washington’s season ends before we get to that game.

Lions @ Jets

Detroit’s surging at the right time for them and the wrong time for a potential playoff opponent. Jared Goff would be one of the better QBs in the tournament if they make it, so root for the Jets to throw some cold water on their sudden playoff hopes.

Falcons @ Saints

At this point, it’s looking pretty likely that the eventual NFC South champion will be Dallas’ first-round opponent in the playoffs. Atlanta has switched to QB Desmond Ridder in a clear shift towards focusing on the future, but they’re still just a game back of Tampa in the division. Who wouldn’t rather see a rookie QB in his first playoff game than Tom Brady?

Bengals @ Buccaneers

Last week’s ugly loss to the 49ers certainly made the Bucs seem less threatening. Nevertheless, Tom Brady’s never lost to the Cowboys. We don’t want to mess with that voodoo in the postseason.

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