While two NFC contenders sat out Week 9 on their bye weeks, two others collided as the Philadelphia Eagles held off the Dallas Cowboys. As things stand, Philly is now in the driver’s seat in both the NFC East and the conference, while Dallas is looking more like a wild card team.
While the Cowboys are still well on their way to making the playoffs in 2023, last Sunday’s loss was a big setback. A win in Philly would have set up Dallas for taking the lead in the NFC East this Sunday, and potentially the NFC as a whole, with an expected victory over the New York Giants. But now they find themselves even more entrenched in the wild card race.
The 49ers didn’t even have to play to retake the NFC West, benefiting from the Seahawks’ loss to Baltimore and moving back up top. Between bye week rest and Deebo Samuel’s return, San Francisco hopes to get back to early-season form and remain among the division leaders.
Detroit was also on a bye last week and still seems destined to win the NFC North. While the Vikings are only a couple of games back in the standings, their quarterback situation doesn’t bode well. Josh Dobbs can win some games and keep Minnesota alive in the wild card race, but igniting a run that helps them overtake the Lions feels out of his range.
Here are the playoff standings ahead of Week 10:
- Philadelphia Eagles (8-1 overall, 6-0 vs NFC)
- Detroit Lions (6-2 overall, 4-1 vs NFC)
- San Francisco 49ers (5-3 overall, 4-1 vs NFC)
- New Orleans Saints (5-4 overall, 2-2 vs NFC)
- Seattle Seahawks (5-3 overall, 4-1 vs NFC)
- Dallas Cowboys (5-3 overall, 2-3 vs NFC)
- Minnesota Vikings (5-4 overall, 5-2 vs NFC)
For tiebreakers, the 49ers edge the Seahawks right now thanks to a 2-0 record in the NFC West. Seattle is 1-1 with a loss to the Rams currently holding them back. The keys here could be the two remaining head-to-head matchups between the Niners and Seahawks, the first of which comes on Thanksgiving night.
Dallas is below Seattle in the wild card picture because of its losing record within the NFC. The Cowboys host the Seahawks in Week 13, which is currently set up to have significant postseason ramifications. Also, Washington gets bumped above Atlanta in the standings with a head-to-head tiebreaker from earlier this year.
The Eagles will be on their bye this week but the rest of the NFC playoff hopefuls will be in action. How could the Week 10 schedule potentially change the landscape?
Giants @ Cowboys
Dallas gets a welcome sight in their broken division rivals. New York was already out of it before losing both Tyrod Taylor and Daniel Jones to injury. Third-string QB Tommy DeVito, an undrafted rookie, gets his first start against an angry Cowboys team coming off the tough loss in Philly. With this game and next week’s against the Carolina Panthers, Dallas should be able to at least avoid falling further behind the Eagles for a couple of weeks.
49ers @ Jaguars
If you want San Francisco to fall back into wild card territory, the 6-2 Jaguars present a good opportunity for that to happen. The Niners are a team Dallas doesn’t want to see again this season and there’s a better chance of avoiding them if they don’t win the NFC West. A Jacksonville win doesn’t affect the Cowboys so we can freely hope that they keep the 49ers’ losing streak going.
Commanders @ Seahawks
For the Niners to not win their division, we need Seattle to step up and take it from them. They got crushed last week by the Ravens but return home for a more favorable matchup in Washington. While the Commanders’ front office seemed to be throwing in the towel on this season, Ron Rivera still coached them to a win last Sunday in New England. Washington is still just outside the playoff picture, but which version of them shows up this week? Hopefully, it’s one that the Seahawks can beat.
One issue we’ll have to start factoring in soon is how Dallas and the eventual NFC West runner-up are positioned for the fifth and sixth seeds. The fifth seed probably means getting the NFC South winner in the first round, while the sixth should send you to either Detroit or San Francisco/Seattle. If the Cowboys can’t get back on top of their own division, then at least getting that top wild card spot becomes a key concern.
Lions @ Chargers
If the Cowboys do find a way to win the NFC East this year, we’d love for them to get a first-round bye with it. Detroit is probably winning its division but can lose a few along the to help our fantastic cause. Dropping this one in Los Angeles would be just fine by us.
Saints @ Vikings
Falcons @ Cardinals
As discussed in last week’s tracker, who do you want to win the NFC South? Whoever it is gets a home game in the first round and there’s a solid chance that the Cowboys will be the ones headed there as the fifth seed. Atlanta still feels like the best option of the bunch given their QB issues, but they’re now behind New Orleans.
Whether it’s Minnesota, Washington, the NFC South runner-up, or someone else, whoever claims that last wild card spot doesn’t feel like any real issue for Dallas. So if the Vikings can put one on the Saints this week, that seems better than the alternative.