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Cowboys news: NFC East and playoff seeding comes down to Week 18

The Cowboys are heading to the playoffs, but as what seed?

Dallas Cowboys v Tennessee Titans Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

Ed Note: We at BTB want to acknowledge the tragedy on Monday night involving Damar Hamlin and hope for the best. For information on his situation please visit Buffalo Rumblings. If you would like to donate to Damar Hamlin’s GoFundMe charity you can do so here.

Division and #1 seed still available for Cowboys - Tony Stahl, Inside The Star

There is a path for the Cowboys to repeat as division winners for the first time since 1995-96, but they need help from an NFC East rival.

This outcome is a bit simpler than you may think, with the Philadelphia Eagles losing yesterday to the New Orleans Saints (thank you Andy Dalton), the Cowboys can win the NFC East. In order for this to occur, you would need:

The Philadelphia Eagles need to lose to the New York Giants

The Dallas Cowboys beat the Washington Commanders

Simple! One thing that does come to mind is that the Giants may not play their starters on Sunday against the Eagles. The reason for this is that they have clinched the 6th seed no matter what (even with another loss).

Cowboys, Eagles, 49ers to play at same time in crucial Week 18 games - KD Drummond, The Cowboys Wire

Their opponents may not have much to play for, but the Cowboys, Eagles, and 49ers will settle the top seeds in the NFC on Sunday.

The Dallas Cowboys, Philadelphia Eagles and San Francisco 49ers will all play their respective games at 3:25 pm Central, so none of the competitors with a shot at the No. 1 seed in the conference has an opportunity to pull back because their future was already decided.

The 49ers are riding a nine-game win streak and finish at home against the struggling Cardinals. A win means they finish no worse than the second seed and would earn the bye week if the Eagles lose. They would still finish second with a loss if the Vikings lose in the earlier time slot.

The Eagles are the No. 1 seed if they win. If they lose, they could be either the No. 1, No. 2 or No. 5 seed depending on other results. Lose with SF winning and Dallas losing, No. 2 or No. 5. Lose with Dallas winning, No. 5. Lose with Dallas and SF also losing, still No. 1.

Cowboys Leighton Vander Esch Injury Move vs. Commanders: ‘It’s About Playoffs’ - Timm Hamm,

Damone Clark has stepped up in his absence, but the Cowboys defense needs Leighton Vander Esch to be at full strength for the playoffs.

After suffering an injury in the Jaguars game in Week 15, Vander Esch has missed contests against the Eagles and Titans.

It’s been decided Vander Esch will sit against the Commanders in Week 18 to rest for the team’s playoff run, so he moves to the inactive list a week before kickoff.

Said LVE on Monday: “It’s about the playoffs. …They’re just giving me a little bit extra time to get rest.”

Vander Esch was injured against the Jaguars and favored the neck area. That was alarming to Cowboys Nation since he has missed significant time with neck injuries in the past. But this was determined to be a neck stinger, not related to previous injuries.

Dak Prescott knows he’s ‘got to stop’ throwing INTs for Cowboys to make Super Bowl run - Todd Archer, ESPN

The Cowboys defense leads the league in takeaways again, but their offense still turns it over at an alarming rate.

But there has been faulty decision-making, like an anticipation throw in the end zone at Green Bay, when a field goal would have given the Cowboys a 10-0 lead, and a pass Indianapolis Colts corner Stephon Gilmore intercepted when he had outside leverage on Michael Gallup.

“To be able to play this position, you got to have a short-term memory,” Prescott said. “Whether the interception you threw is your fault, not your fault, whether you throw it to the guy and lose out on points before the half or not, you’ve got to be able to turn the page and just move on. That’s something that honestly I take pride in.”

Despite the high rate of interceptions, the Cowboys have continued to win. They are 5-1 in the past six games in which Prescott has thrown a pick. They are 8-2 since his return from the thumb injury. They have beaten three playoff teams (Minnesota, Philadelphia, New York Giants) and two other potential playoff teams (Detroit Lions, Titans) despite the interceptions.

But the postseason heightens everything. Prescott, who has three interceptions in 146 pass attempts in three playoff games, knows it better than anyone.

The ultimate goal is to get to the Super Bowl. If he gets there after leading the NFL (or being tied) in regular-season interceptions, he would be the fourth quarterback in the Super Bowl era to pull off the feat, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.

Trevon Diggs, Jayron Kearse endorse Cowboys’ DaRon Bland as DROY - Jerry Trotta, The Landry Hat

Bland has fit perfectly into Dan Quinn’s defense as a rookie, and helped ease the loss of Anthony Brown and Jourdan Lewis.

With Joseph back to having a nearly-full-time role on special teams, it appears Bland is the Cowboys’ new every-down boundary corner. Makes sense, right? At the rate Bland is intercepting passes, he’d start on most teams.

Forget being a starter, though.

With Bland now a staple of Dan Quinn’s defense, the 23-year-old’s veteran teammates are hyping him up as the Defensive Rookie of the Year. Trevon Diggs got the movement started on Twitter after Bland’s incredible interception against the Eagles, when he wrestled the pigskin away from Quez Watkins.

We’re not going to be delusional homers and pretend Bland should win Defensive Rookie of the Year. The Jets’ Sauce Gardner, the Lions’ Aidan Hutchinson, and the Seahawks’ Tariq Woolen are the consensus favorites for the hardware.

Gardner’s currently graded as PFF’s top cornerback for the season, while Hutchinson leads all rookies in sacks (seven), to go with seven tackles for loss, 13 QB hits, two (!) interceptions, 43 pressures and a 77.0 pass rush grade. Finally, Woolen is tied for the league lead with six interceptions, and his 14 passes defended are tied for the third-most (Sauce leads the way with 16, by the way).

With all of that said, the fact Bland is even in the conversation is an accomplishment unto itself. He’s tied for the second-most interceptions with five, and he’s done it despite logging zero defensive snaps in five games early in the year. That doesn’t include Week 7 against Detroit when he played seven snaps.

Blogging The Boys Podcast Network and YouTube Channel

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  • Monday: 1st and 10 with Dave Sturchio, Tony Catalina, & Aidan Davis
  • Monday: Hidden Yardage with Mark Lane and Sean Martin
  • Tuesday: The Writer’s Block with Jess Nevarez and Brandon Loree
  • Tuesday: BTB Roundtable with various BTB Staffers
  • Wednesday: NFC East Mixtape with RJ Ochoa and Brandon Lee Gowton
  • Wednesday: Talkin’ The Star with Connor Livesay
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  • Thursday: Ryled Up with Roy White and Tom Ryle
  • Friday: Girls Talkin’ Boys with Kelsey Charles and Meg Murray
  • Friday: The Star Seminar with Danny Phantom and Rabblerousr
  • Saturday: The World’s Team with Meg Murray and Paul Stewart

Also every single weekday features a roundup episodes of sorts similar to these news headlines that catches you up on everything that you need to know! Make sure to listen to Dallas Cowboys Daily hosted by Jess Nevarez from Monday through Friday. We also offer live shows every weekday afternoon on the Blogging The Boys YouTube Channel.

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