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Cowboys wild card rooting guide: 3 possibilities if Dallas advances

The Cowboys could host three different teams next week if they get past the Packers.

Dallas Cowboys v Washington Commanders Photo by Kara Durrette/Getty Images

The wild card round of the playoffs for the 2023 NFL season is upon us! While Cowboys fans are rightfully focused on Dallas’ first-round opponent, the Green Bay Packers, the other two NFC playoff games will determine who may be headed to AT&T Stadium in the divisional round if the Cowboys advance. As always, some options are better than others.

The NFL’s playoff bracket works differently from most other sports. The bracket isn’t fixed; matchups could shift based on teams’ original seeding. The basic rule is that, in any round, the lowest-seeded team faces the highest remaining seed.

The NFC playoff field is as follows:

  1. San Francisco 49ers (first-round bye)
  2. Dallas Cowboys vs 7. Green Bay Packers
  3. Detroit Lions vs. 6. Los Angeles Rams
  4. Tampa Bay Bucs vs 5. Philadelphia Eagles

So, based on the lowest-highest rule, there are three different possibilities for who the Cowboys could see in the second round. We’ll look at the scenarios, then tell you the one that would be in Dallas’ best interest.

Obviously, all of these are based on the hope that the Cowboys defeat the Packers on Sunday. If Green Bay were to upset Dallas, as the seventh seed, they would automatically head to San Francisco in the second round.

Lions defeat Rams
Bucs defeat Eagles

DAL Next Opponent: Lions

If the home teams hold court this round, the Bucs would go to San Francisco and the Lions would head back to Dallas for a rematch from Week 17. Not only would this give the Cowboys a tougher test in Detroit, it also means Tampa advancing as the weakest possible opponent for the 49ers. So, outside of laughing at Philadelphia, this is probably the worst scenario we could have.

Lions defeat Rams
Eagles defeat Bucs

DAL Next Opponent: Lions

This at least sends the Eagles to try to knock off the 49ers while Dallas again hosts Detroit. If Philadelphia can pull it together enough to win a road playoff game in Tampa, maybe they get their mojo back enough to potentially upset the Niners. While some would love to see the Cowboys add a win over San Francisco to their 2023 accomplishments, recent history says the 49ers have Dallas’ number and are better off avoided.

Then again, if the Eagles’ collapse continues into the playoffs, they aren’t going to stand a chance against the 49ers anyway. So really, whoever wins that Tampa/Philly game is probably a better upset candidate.

Rams defeat Lions
Eagles defeat Bucs

DAL Next Opponent: Eagles

A rubber match with Philadelphia isn’t a slam dunk. Even if the Eagles are limping into the playoffs, rivalry matches tend to exist in a vacuum. And like we just said, if Philly gets to this point then they may have worked out some of their issues and will be a more formidable opponent than what we’ve seen recently.

On the plus side, the Rams are arguably the best team to try to eliminate the 49ers before the NFC Championship. They’re firing on offense and it’s an NFC West rivalry game; the best scenario for an upset.

Rams defeat Lions
Bucs defeat Eagles

DAL Next Opponent: Buccaneers

This is the dream scenario. Dallas gets the softest potential opponent in Tampa Bay while the Rams still try to do us a solid in San Francisco. The 2023 Bucs aren’t even as good as the team the Cowboys routed in last year’s playoffs.

From Jerry Jones down to the most casual Cowboys fan, we’re all here to see this team finally get back to having meaningful postseason success. When history looks back on Super Bowl champions, nobody’s going to care if Dallas had to go through the 49ers or not to raise that trophy.

Of course, the Cowboys players and coaches shouldn’t be looking past this Sunday’s opponent. But we’re free to do so, logically hoping that things align to give Dallas the best possible chance at reaching the ultimate reward.

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