While most NFL games in Week 16 took place on Christmas Eve there were three contests that happened across Christmas Day. Merry Christmas one and all, by the way.
The Dallas Cowboys defeated the Philadelphia Eagles the day before Santa Claus went to work, and while they did there were not a whole lot of things that happened to really change their position within the overall NFC playoff picture.
Dallas still needs an awful lot to win the NFC East and even more to secure the top seed in the NFC. They are about as entrenched into the top wild card spot within the conference as they can possibly be, in fact whenever Philly clinches the NFC East (any Dallas loss or Philadelphia win does that) the Cowboys will be locked in at the #5 seed.
As the Cowboys’ fate is likely the top wild card team in the conference they are seemingly destined to visit the winner of the NFC South in the Wild Card Round. With the Tampa Bay Buccaneers winning on Christmas night, destiny’s opponent has begun to crystallize even more.
The Bucs win on Sunday night makes a Cowboys playoff game in Tampa even more likely
You may have seen the NBC broadcast note that a Tampa win on Sunday night (which they got) puts them in a position to win the NFC South next week when they host the Carolina Panthers (who also won in Week 16). Even if Tampa loses to the Panthers, they can still win the division as long as they beat the Falcons in the regular season finale and the Panthers lose to the Saints. Obviously at that point you are relying on more things happening which decreases the likelihood, but the Bucs did lose to Carolina earlier this season.
It is actually possible that we end the penultimate week of the regular season with a Cowboys/Buccaneers wild card matchup already locked and loaded. Here is what would need to happen:
- Cowboys lose on Thursday night to Tennessee Titans or Philadelphia Eagles defeat the New Orleans Saints
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers defeat the Carolina Panthers
Even if and when they win their division, the Buccaneers are locked into the four seed within the NFC. As noted many times the Eagles can win the NFC East with any Cowboys loss or win that they achieve on their own (which they couldn’t do Saturday by the way) and if Dallas is going to be the wild card then they will only be the #5 seed which means they will visit the Bucs.
This would make for a very interesting Week 18 for both Dallas and Tampa Bay. How seriously would either team take their regular-season finale knowing not only that they are headed to the playoffs one week later but specifically having the knowledge of who they will be playing in the Wildcard Round.
Of course that speculation is all for not if this certain set of things does not happen in Week 17. But be prepared. The Cowboys are very likely headed to Tampa Bay.