The Dallas Cowboys’ loss to the Green Bay Packers left a bitter feeling across Cowboys Nation. The odds, injury report, and record were entirely in their favor against Green Bay for the first time in a very long time. They had every reason to win that game.
Instead, not playing with urgency, more discipline penalties, subpar play from Dak Prescott, and the defense’s continued inability to stop the run became the story of the game.
The Cowboys blew a 14-point lead and lost in overtime in a game that had no business going to overtime in the first place.
However, there is good news. Despite being 6-3 and dropping in the NFC East, the Cowboys still rank as No. 6 in the NFC playoff picture thanks to teams like the Packers and Rams being surprisingly bad this season.
Furthermore, according to Seth Walder of ESPN Analytics, the Cowboys still have a 98.5% chance to make the playoffs. In a recent article, Walder put Dallas in his second tier of teams named “playoff locks” along with the Vikings and Ravens. That is an excellent percentage for a team sitting at 6-3 and facing some tough opponents ahead.
Walder used a combination of ESPN’s Football Power Index projections, strength of schedule, betting odds, and past metrics to put together his tiers and percentages.
Despite the loss to the Packers, the Cowboys still have a 98.5% chance of making the playoffs according to ESPN analytics
This season there will be three Wild Card teams in the NFC. That means the four division leaders and the three teams with the next-best records will make the playoffs.
Right now, the Cowboys have a two-game lead in the loss column on the Commanders (with tiebreakers still undetermined), and there aren’t many teams that are close behind them in the standings. While Washington did just hand Philadelphia their first defeat, it’s hard to imagine the Commanders completely winning out their year and Dallas losing enough to dip below Washington.
Under Washington are the Packers and Falcons, and despite the loss in Green Bay, it’s genuinely hard to imagine either of those teams surpassing Dallas given their seasons thus far.
It would take far more than Week 10’s loss and a potential loss to the 8-1 Vikings to toss Dallas from the playoff picture. However, that doesn’t mean the other 1.5% isn’t possible. If Green Bay makes a magical turnaround or Taylor Heinicke continues on with his pixie dust, the Cowboys will need to play much better in their remaining games.
Speaking of, some big games are coming up that the Cowboys need to win in order to assert themselves in the rankings. Dallas still has to play each NFC East team one more time. What was once thought to be the worst division in football is now the best, and those games won’t be as easy as we predicted them to be before the season began.
That means that “easy games” like the ones against the Colts, Texans, and Jaguars may become must-wins for Dallas, with tough games against Minnesota and Philadelphia still on the horizon.
All of this is to say that while we can certainly expect more than the Cowboys gave in Week 10, there is still room for hope. In a surprisingly weak NFC, this team’s chances to make the playoffs look pretty darn good, with them solidly ahead of the teams behind them in the standings.
Barring a giant setback, the Cowboys should be postseason-bound!