The Dallas Cowboys kept their playoff hopes alive after the 30-10 win over the New York Giants on Sunday, the team’s second win in as many games, pushing their record to 7-6. They join the Atlanta Falcons (8-5), Detroit Lions (7-6) and Green Bay Packers (7-6) as NFC non-playoff teams with records above .500.
Winning is certainly helping the Cowboys’ chances at a playoff spot, but wins by Atlanta, Detroit and Green Bay on Sunday made the Cowboys’ road to the playoffs tougher. Heading into Week 14, Dallas had a 14 percent chance at making the playoffs. Now those odds are much worse.
First, the Cowboys have to win out and get to 10-6, likely to be the cut line for the NFC wild-card slots. That means beating, in order, the Oakland Raiders on the road, the Seattle Seahawks at home and the NFC East-leading Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. The Eagles’ game got a little easier to win Monday with word that Eagles quarterback and MVP candidate Carson Wentz has a torn anterior cruciate ligament. The Cowboys could also get a boost from the return of running back Ezekiel Elliott, who is serving a six-game suspension for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy after he was accused of committing domestic violence in July 2016.
Winning out takes care of one of the scenarios Dallas needs to make the playoffs: Seattle needs to lose one of its remaining three games to finish no better than 10-6, with the Cowboys owning the head-to-head tie breaker.
But the Cowboys would still need help, including the Falcons losing two of their final three games in addition to the Packers and Lions losing at least one game each.
The toughest game on Atlanta’s schedule is a road game against the New Orleans Saints in Week 16, which carries a 32 percent win probability for the Falcons. They are heavily favored in the upcoming matchup against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (68 percent) and a slight favorite against the Carolina Panthers (51 percent) in the last week of the regular season. The chances of Atlanta losing two of these three games range from 15 to 33 percent.
The Lions are favored in all three of their upcoming games, which includes a Week 17 clash with the Packers, who might have star quarterback Aaron Rodgers back under center. That game, unless it ends in a tie, gets one loss out of the way for Dallas, but it would still need the winner of that NFC North game to lose at least one more before then.
|Game||Detroit Lions||Green Bay Packers|
|Week 15||vs. Bears, 73% win probability||at Panthers, 30%|
|Week 16||at Bengals, 59%||vs. Vikings 33%|
|Week 17||vs. Packers, 59%||at Lions, 41%|
I won’t sugarcoat it: The Cowboys’ chances of qualifying for postseason play isn’t high. Based on the above, their best chance — a path that includes winning out plus the Falcons losing to the Saints and Panthers, the Lions losing to the Bengals and the Packers losing to the Lions — is at one percent, or roughly 103-to-1 odds against.
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