The Dallas Cowboys aren’t exactly going into the playoffs with a ton of momentum.
While they won six of their final eight games, their last two performances — including their worst performance of the year against Washington — have fans and those who cover the team worried for what lies ahead.
What lies ahead? A road trip to Tampa Bay to face Tom Brady and the Buccaneers. While the Bucs themselves limped into the tournament by winning the lowly NFC South with an under .500 record, Playoff Brady is a different animal and he’s a ridiculous 7-0 against the Cowboys in his career.
While Dallas focuses on turning the page to Tampa Bay, fans and journalists have the luxury of looking ahead and scoping out the NFC playoff picture, which was finalized Sunday night after the Lions (who had nothing to play for) defeated the Packers in Lambeau to send Green Bay packing and the Seahawks to the dance.
Here’s a look at the final NFC playoff picture.
What’s the Cowboys easiest path to the NFC Championship Game?
We’d all agree that anything less than an appearance in the NFC Championship Game would make the season a failure, right?
Not that winning in January is easy, but luckily for you we mapped out the Cowboys’ de facto easiest path to the NFC Title Game.
Unfortunately, the Packers making the playoffs would’ve been in Dallas’ best interest, assuming they’d have a better chance to win in San Francisco than Seattle. Either way, the 49ers choking at home to their division rivals on Wild Card Weekend is what every Cowboys fan should be rooting for.
In that scenario, the Seahawks would travel to Philadelphia in the Divisional Round, setting up a potential Cowboys vs Vikings or Cowboys vs Giants matchup that weekend, assuming Dallas handles their business in Tampa Bay.
You couldn’t ask for a better turn of events than Dallas playing Minnesota or New York in the second round. The Cowboys dismantled the Vikings 40-3 on the road earlier this season, and completed a season sweep of the Giants for the second year in a row, including in Week 3 with Cooper Rush running the offense.
Again, it’s unlikely. The 49ers opened as 10-point favorites against the Seahawks. They won both meetings against the fighting Pete Carroll’s this season by a combined 28 points. It’s not an ideal matchup for Geno Smith on Seattle’s offense, but beating the same team thrice in one year is a rarity in the NFL, and San Francisco’s magic (they won their final 10 games) has to run out at some point, right?
Either way, Cowboys fans should be rooting for a Seahawks win this weekend as far as scoreboard watching goes. A Seattle win would mean nothing if Dallas loses to Tampa Bay, but this whole article is based on hypotheticals.
But what is fandom if not envisioning — some would say manifesting — the best possible outcome for your favorite team?