The Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles are the marquee matchup for Sunday Night Football and Week 14. But while this NFC East rivalry game is for a lot of marbles, some still belong to other key contests within the conference. We’ll see how other NFC action could help or hurt Dallas in this week’s rooting guide.
With the Eagles’ loss to San Francisco last week, the rematch with Dallas is now for, at least, temporary control of the NFC East. But even if the Cowboys can get it done, they’d need losses by the 49ers and Lions to enjoy anything more than the third seed. Moving to first would take a lot more work for the rest of the season.
Dallas’ last opponent, the Seahawks, dropped from the sixth seed to not even making the playoffs in their loss. Things are really knotted up right now at the bottom of that wild card race and, thankfully, the Cowboys are looking secure for at least the fifth seed if not more. They could even clinch a playoff spot this week if several things fall a certain way.
Here are the NFC playoff standings ahead of Week 14:
- Philadelphia Eagles (10-2 overall, 6-1 vs NFC)
- San Francisco 49ers (9-3 overall, 7-1 vs NFC)
- Detroit Lions (9-3 overall, 6-2 vs NFC)
- Atlanta Falcons (6-6 overall, 4-4 vs NFC)
- Dallas Cowboys (9-3 overall, 6-3 vs NFC)
- Minnesota Vikings (6-6 overall, 6-3 vs NFC)
- Green Bay Packers (6-6 overall, 4-3 vs NFC)
- Los Angeles Rams (6-6 overall, 4-4 vs NFC)
- Seattle Seahawks (6-6 overall, 5-4 vs NFC)
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-7 overall, 4-4 vs NFC)
- New Orleans Saints (5-7 overall, 2-5 vs NFC)
For simple tiebreakers, the Niners have a slight edge on the Lions right now based on conference record. Tampa Bay is over New Orleans thanks to a head-to-head win, but they’ll have to beat them again in Week 17 to cement that.
Things are messier among the 6-6 wild card contenders. Seattle is on the bottom after getting swept by the Rams and losing to the Packers. While Green Bay is below Minnesota in the NFC North, their win over Los Angeles in Week 9 keeps them as the seventh seed. The Vikings are on top right now with a superior conference record to L.A. and a head-to-head over the Packers, but their rematch is coming in Week 17.
So aside from beating Philly, what else would Dallas like to see happen in this week’s games? Let’s get into the Week 14 guide.
Cowboys over Eagles
Before we move on to the other games, let’s note what happens if Philadelphia is victorious. A win would essentially give the Eagles a three-game lead in the division with the head-to-head tiebreaker; likely more than the Cowboys could overcome with just four to go. So while Dallas would take the lead by the slim margin of a better division record, a Philly win would all but clinch the NFC East.
Seahawks over 49ers
While a Seattle win would prevent Dallas from clinching a playoff berth this week, that’s a small price to pay for seeing San Francisco lose. If the Cowboys do take over the NFC East, they need to get at least one game up on the 49ers to have a realistic shot at the number-one seed. Other than the Ravens in Week 16, Seattle is the biggest challenge left on Frisco’s schedule.
Lions over Bears
As we said last week, if Dallas can’t get the number-one seed then Detroit is the preferred option. The Cowboys can get the tiebreaker edge over them in Week 17 if needed. But if we’re playing the odds, the Eagles are probably taking the NFC East and Dallas would then hope to go to Detroit in the second round over Philly or San Francisco.
Falcons over Buccaneers
Panthers over Saints
Again, thinking about the odds, we like Atlanta as the NFC South winner and Dallas’ potential first-round opponent over the Bucs or Saints. Plus, a Falcons’ victory helps eliminate Tampa from the wild card race in some of the clinching scenarios for the Cowboys this week. The same goes for a New Orleans loss to Carolina, albeit unlikely.
Giants over Packers
Raiders over Vikings
Ravens over Rams
In truth, Dallas isn’t really affected much here. This is just about facilitating the potential clincher for the Cowboys’ playoff spot. But even if Green Bay, Minnesota, and Los Angeles hold their ground, they’re still several games back of Dallas in the wild card race and probably fighting for the sixth and seventh seeds at best.
An added bonus for the Giants beating the Packers is damaging New York’s position in the 2024 NFL Draft order. It would also give the team more confidence in case Dallas needs them to beat Philadelphia during the final four games of the season.