The Dallas Cowboys already clinched a playoff berth, but their win in Tennessee, coupled with a few favorable results from the Sunday slate, means they still have everything to play for in the Week 18 finale against Washington.
As far as the NFC is concerned, six of the seven playoff tickets have been punched. The Giants clinched by beating the Colts, and are locked into the No. 6 seed regardless of what happens this Sunday, while the Buccaneers locked up the middling NFC South with a second half comeback vs the Panthers.
The only vacancy left to fill is the final wild card slot, which three teams — the Packers, Seahawks, and Lions — are vying for.
That could impact the Cowboys depending on what happens in Week 18. As of this writing, it’s unclear what seed Dallas will have. The good news is mostly everything came up Cowboys this weekend, so Mike McCarthy’s squad faces three potential seeding scenarios entering the final week of the season.
Let’s analyze them in order of least likely to most likely, shall we?
Breaking down Cowboys 3 potential playoff scenarios
1. Cowboys sneak their way to the No. 1 seed
This is obviously the least-likely scenario. Along with the Cowboys, the Eagles and 49ers are in contention for the NFC’s top seed. For Dallas to nab the coveted seed — and thereby a first-round bye and home-field advantage through the playoffs — they have to beat Washington, and the Eagles and Niners to lose.
That’s a tall ask for the Cowboys. While Philly is reeling, they play a Giants team that has the luxury of being able to rest its starters. Even if New York plays its studs, chances are Jalen Hurts is back under center for the Eagles.
The 49ers losing is much more unlikely, as they’ll play a depleted Cardinals team. San Francisco opened as 13.5 point favorites for the game. Nick Bosa and company need to beat Arizona and Philly to lose to claim the top seed.
The Eagles, meanwhile, get the No. 1 seed if they simply beat the Giants, or the Cowboys and 49ers both lose their finales. That’s the unquestioned easiest path of the three. Suppose that’s the benefit of starting the year 13-1, right?