Updated NFC playoff picture: Cowboys staring down daunting first-round matchup

New York Giants v Dallas Cowboys
New York Giants v Dallas Cowboys / Sam Hodde/GettyImages

The Dallas Cowboys took care of business against the Giants in Week 10, which is exactly what they needed to do after their loss to the Eagles.

Luckily, the Cowboys have two more winnable games against the Panthers this Sunday and vs the Commanders on Thanksgiving -- plus a Thursday night game against the Seahawks -- before their all-important rematch against the Eagles at AT&T Stadium in Week 14.

Currently 6-3, the Cowboys could easily be 9-3 when they see the Eagles again. That's easier said than done, and Dallas has been susceptible to the occasional trap game since Mike McCarthy took over as head coach three years ago.

Flagging down Philly in the NFC East should be the main objective. If that isn't possible, the Cowboys have to leapfrog Seattle for the No. 5 seed (first wild card spot) to avoid a potentially unforgiving first-round playoff matchup.

NFC playoff picture: Cowboys must keep winning to avoid daunting first-round matchup

  1. Philadelphia Eagles (8-1)
  2. Detroit Lions (7-2)
  3. San Francisco 49ers (6-3): holds tiebreaker over Seattle 
  4. New Orleans Saints (5-5)
  5. Seattle Seahawks (6-3)
  6. Dallas Cowboys (6-3)
  7. Minnesota Vikings (6-4)

In the hunt: Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-5), Washington Commanders (4-6), Atlanta Falcons (4-6), Green Bay Packers (3-6) 

The Seahawks have the tiebreaker over Dallas based on the best win percentage in conference games. The Cowboys are 3-3 in conference, while Seattle is 5-1. That's not ideal, but the Seahawks have beaten up on the NFC's weaker teams and they still have to play the 49ers twice, the Rams, who beat them earlier in the season, Dallas and Philly.

The Cowboy, meanwhile, have the Panthers this week and still play the Commanders twice. More importantly, they could hold the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Seahawks if they beat Seattle at home on Thursday night in Week 13.

As of this writing, though, Dallas would travel to San Francisco in the first round of the playoffs. It's no secret that the 49ers are the Cowboys' boogeyman.

On top of outing them in each of the last two playoffs, San Francisco handed Dallas arguably its worst loss of the Mike McCarthy era with a 42-10 beatdown in Week 5. Dak Prescott has notoriously struggled against the 49ers defense in his career, so it would behoove the Cowboys to move up in the standings.

All they can do is win games and hope to get some help along the way. Luckily, there's eight games left to determine playoff seeding.

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