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Dallas Cowboys playoff picture: Chaos could unfold in the NFC over the next few weeks

Projecting potential playoff positions for the Dallas Cowboys.

New York Giants v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Sam Hodde/Getty Images

At the end of the day you want to get into the tournament.

Thanksgiving is next week, no big deal but I am going to smoke a turkey and am extremely excited, which means the playoff picture in the NFL is starting to come into a little bit more clear form. There are eight weeks remaining in the regular season so there is plenty of time for chaos to unfold, but we are well past the halfway point now. We can start to tentatively write certain things down in pencil.

But even then we need to be prepared to make adjustments when December arrives. Beyond the notion that things will change because eight weeks is a ton of time in the NFL, there are still quite a few games to be played between the current NFC playoff teams.

Again, it is going to get rather hectic.

There are 10 remaining games between the current NFC playoff teams

Anyone who follows the NFL is aware of the tough stretch that the Philadelphia Eagles are about to start (technically did start with their game against our Cowboys before their bye) and we are all obviously aware that things will be a bit tense for Dallas in December specifically.

But as noted, there are a lot of proverbial balls in the air among current NFC playoff teams and there is actually an exact number on them. 10 games remain between the current playoff field.

Remaining Games for Current NFC Playoff Picture

Team Week 11 Week 12 Week 13 Week 14 Week 15 Week 16 Week 17 Week 18
Team Week 11 Week 12 Week 13 Week 14 Week 15 Week 16 Week 17 Week 18
Eagles (8-1) at Chiefs Bills 49ers at Cowboys at Seahawks Giants Cardinals at Giants
Lions (7-2) Bears Packers at Saints at Bears Broncos at Vikings at Cowboys Vikings
49ers (6-3) Buccaneers at Seahawks at Eagles Seahawks at Cardinals Ravens at Commanders Rams
Saints (5-5) BYE at Falcons Lions Panthers Giants at Rams at Buccaneers Falcons
Seahawks (6-3) at Rams 49ers at Cowboys at 49ers Eagles at Titans Steelers at Cardinals
Cowboys (6-3) at Panthers Commanders Seahawks Eagles at Bills at Dolphins Lions at Commanders
Vikings (6-4) at Broncos Bears BYE at Raiders at Bengals Lions Packers at Lions

As it stands this current week is the last one of the regular season without a game between at least two of the current NFC playoff teams.

The 49ers and Seahawks have yet to play each other this season and will meet twice in a three-week stretch starting in Week 12. Amazingly Week 13 will bring nothing but games between the current playoff field given that the Vikings are on bye that week. Week 14 offers similar anarchy with four teams playing one another (including the Cowboys/Eagles rematch) and the results of all these games are obviously going to play a significant role in determining the overall seeding of the group, not to mention the group itself.

From a Cowboys perspective it feels pretty obvious the way we would prioritize our goals in terms of the way playoff position we would like to see Dallas hold.

  1. Winning the NFC East and taking home the top seed and first-round bye
  2. The top Wild Card spot
  3. Any spot that avoids the 49ers

It is never fun or comfortable to admit that another team owns the Cowboys, but recent history offers too much evidence for any of us to feel anything but terrified about the idea of Dallas playing San Francisco at any point. If it happens then we will be forced to try and cross that bridge, but in a perfect world the Cowboys could avoid their kryptonite altogether.

But while that is true, the most important priority outside of being the top seed in the conference has to be being the top wild card of the group given that whoever holds that spot will in all likelihood visit the winner of the NFC South in the first round of the playoffs. While no games are ever locks or something that should be overlooked, it is undeniable that the weakest team of the six playing in the Wild Card Round will be the NFC South winner. Dallas was able to capitalize on that last season and if they are unable to win the division this year hopefully they can do so again.

We are still too early on to be able to identify even the best possible path for that option. At the moment Dallas trails Seattle in the Wild Card standings, but there is a world (however improbable) where they wind up winning the NFC West. This would bump San Francisco down into the WC discussion and they obviously have the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Cowboys.

Ultimately the next few weeks are going to provide some clarity and will hopefully help us be able to identify a possible path forward. Buckle up. It is going to get bumpy for a bit.

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