It may not feel like it, but the Dallas Cowboys still have one game left in their regular season. The Washington Commanders stand between Dallas and their playoff focus, although to be fair, a number of other things are sort of in the way at the moment as well. The Cowboys are obviously focused on winning their regular-season finale against their rivals, but they are going to be paying attention to what is happening in two other games as the results could change the path they take in the postseason tournament.
If the Cowboys win and the Philadelphia Eagles lose, then the Cowboys are division champions and secure the #2 seed at worst. If these things happen and the San Francisco 49ers lose, then the Cowboys vault all the way to the top seed in the conference. Both Philadelphia and San Francisco are solidly double-digit point favorites in their matchups according to our friends at DraftKings.
Should things not break the Cowboys way (meaning the Eagles win or Dallas themselves lose), then they would be locked into the #5 seed in the NFC as the conference’s top wild card. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are already locked into the #4 seed as the lowest-seeded division winner which would mean the Cowboys would finally see Tom Brady again as Dak Prescott promised in the season opener back in 2021.
A Cowboys/Buccaneers Wild Card game may take place on Monday night
There is no doubt that a Cowboys/Buccaneers game would do massive ratings given the appeal of Dallas and Tampa’s quarterback. Needless to say, it would be coveted by every broadcast partner that the NFL has as far as Wild Card Round games are concerned.
It was noted on Saturday afternoon by the Dallas Morning News that if this winds up coming to fruition, the game could take place on the Monday night of Wild Card Weekend.
Rumblings are strong that if the Cowboys remain the No. 5 seed once Sunday is done, Dallas & Tampa Bay will be the Monday Night game for Wild Card Weekend.— David Moore (@DavidMooreDMN) January 7, 2023
Forget the Buccaneers part of this hypothetical for the moment. Maybe you feel like that is an ideal or not-so-great matchup for the Cowboys. Right now we are only talking about the time slot.
This is a potentially terrible idea if we are being honest (to be fair this is true for all NFL teams, we just have an interest in the Cowboys). It is why so many people did not want to see playoff games take place on Monday nights. If the Cowboys won this playoff game, they could potentially be at a huge rest disadvantage for their next opponent.
If all of the non-Bucs division winners in the NFC playoff games won, then the Cowboys would be traveling to face the top-seeded team (likely the Eagles) coming off of their bye. So you are talking about one team coming off of the longest amount of rest possible and the other coming off of the shortest amount of rest possible. For a playoff game!
It is worth mentioning that the Los Angeles Rams played in this slot last postseason on their way to winning the Super Bowl, but it is also worth noting that they did not have to visit the top seed in the conference as a result (which proves that anything can happen obviously). Incidentally, it was because the Cowboys lost in the Wild Card Round a year ago to the 49ers that sent L.A. to Tampa in the Divisional Round. Had the Cowboys won then the Rams would have been in the situation we are speculating about, coming off of short rest and heading to the top-seeded Green Bay Packers. Also it is worth pointing out that the Rams played that game at home and not on the road like Dallas would here.
The Cowboys are likely to be favored against the Buccaneers if that winds up being the matchup, but putting the game on the Monday night of Wild Card Weekend would be setting them up with an objective disadvantage for the Divisional Round, even if there are Saturday games that weekend as well.