Dallas Cowboys: Making sense of the NFC playoff picture

ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 10: Dak Prescott /

With the NFC portion of Week 13 in the books, we try to predict the Dallas Cowboys path to the playoffs by looking at the schedule ahead.

The Dallas Cowboys got a must win Thursday night against the Washington Redskins. Not only did it allow Dallas to snap a devastating three-game losing streak, but it kept the Cowboys slim playoff hopes alive.

Following this weekend’s action, we’ll look at schedule for those NFC teams currently ahead of Dallas and that are still in playoff contention. We’ll review each of their schedules and try to best predict where the Cowboys stand in the conference with four games to go in the 2017 regular season.


#1. Minnesota Vikings (10-2): Upcoming opponents – @CAR, CIN, @GB, CHI

#2. Philadelphia Eagles (10-2): Upcoming opponents – @LAR, @NYG, OAK, DAL

#3. Los Angeles Rams (9-3): Upcoming opponents – PHI, @SEA, @TEN, SF

#4. New Orleans Saints (9-3): Upcoming opponents – @ATL, NYJ, ATL, @TB

#5. Seattle Seahawks (8-4): Upcoming opponents – @JAX, LAR, @DAL, ARZ

#6. Carolina Panthers (8-4): Upcoming opponents – MIN, GB, TB, @ATL

#7. Atlanta Falcons (7-5): Upcoming opponents – NO, @TB, @NO, CAR

#8. Detroit Lions (6-6): Upcoming opponents – @TB, CHI, @CIN, GB

#9. Green Bay Packers (6-6): Upcoming opponents – @CLE, @CAR, MIN, @DET

#10. Dallas Cowboys (6-6): Upcoming opponents – @NYG, @OAK, SEA, @PHI

With their upcoming opponents in mind, here are our projected final standings for the above teams in the NFC. (Make your own prediction and place it in our comment section below.)

#1. Minnesota Vikings (13-3)

#2. Philadelphia Eagles (12-4)

#3. New Orleans Saints (12-4)

#4. Los Angeles Rams (11-5)

#5. Seattle Seahawks (10-6)

#6. Carolina Panthers (10-6)


#7. Atlanta Falcons (8-8)

#8. Green Bay Packers (8-8)

#9. Detroit Lions (7-9)

The above prediction presumes the Cowboys will win both against Seattle in Dallas and at Philly in the final game of the season. They should have suspended running back Ezekiel Elliott back in the fold by Week 16, and I expect the Eagles to rest their starters in Week 17. Although, knowing their heated history, Philadelphia would love the chance to knock Dallas out of the playoffs.

So, here’s the path for the Cowboys in our scenario. They must win out, obviously, as the above prediction shows anything less than a 10-6 record will not earn them a Wild Card spot. Most importantly, the victory over Seattle could end up being the tie-breaker.

Next: The stellar performance no one is talking about

Next up, the Cowboys have the struggling 2-10 New York Giants at home. But as for any divisional matchup, look out for the dreaded “trap game” as Dallas will likely get the best from the G-Men. Then the Cowboys hit the road again, this time to face the 6-6 Oakland Raiders, who are currently on a two-game winning streak.

If the Dallas Cowboys can win these two pivotal games, the return of Zeke gives Dallas a ton of momentum heading into a tough matchup with quarterback Russell Wilson and the Seahawks at AT&T Stadium.