One of the very best things about December – right up there with the holidays and hot chocolate and snowfalls – is that it’s the first month in which it really makes sense to start looking at NFL playoff pictures and scenarios.
So today, as the twelfth month of the year closes in, we’ll get ahead of the wave and look at what things could look like for the Dallas Cowboys in the playoffs as they enter Week 13.
Cowboys’ most likely playoff seed?
Considering the Minnesota Vikings (#2 seed right now) have been inconsistent and have some tough games ahead, their record might not be enough to put them in the running for the conference’s top slot. Especially considering they’ve got head-to-head losses against the Eagles and Cowboys.
That means that whoever wins the NFC East will likely enjoy the benefit of a bye week and home-field advantage.
Sure, the Cowboys could very well beat the Eagles on Christmas Eve when both rivals face each other for the second time this season. But even if they do, that doesn’t guarantee them the NFC East lead.
No, Dallas still needs Philly to lose another game for that to happen. And even if that does happen, the Cowboys would still need to run the table!
I’m not trying to spoil the party here. All of the above might just happen. The Cowboys are really that good to beat everyone on their schedule. But this is all to say that ripping the division’s lead away from the Eagles is a very complicated task.
And as such, the most likely scenario for the Cowboys is for them to finish the year as the league’s best wild card. That would put them at #5 in the NFC behind the four divisional champions.
As you can see, it’s a boom-or-bust situation for the Cowboys. Odds say you’re either the best in the NFC or you’re likely playing on the road all of the postseason.
Here are the Football Outsiders playoff seeding odds for the Cowboys:
- #1 seed: 15%
- #5 seed: 75%
For illustration, the Vikings’ odds for the #1 seed is 3% per Football Outsiders.
Likeliest foe in the first playoff game?
If they do end up at #5, the Cowboys would be likely facing the Tampa Bay Buccaneers unless they crumble and lose the division. Otherwise, at 5-6, they’re likely not moving from #4.
That’s right, odds are we get the Bucs’ version of Tom Brady vs Dak Prescott III.
If the Cowboys end up at #1, they’d have to wait to see which is the lowest-seeded team to advance from the Wild Card round. Assuming every divisional champion advances, they’d still get the Bucs only it’d be in the Divisional Round and they’d do it as the home team.
However, the Eagles will be in the mix as well as they could be the Wild Card with the highest chances of advancing. They would likely be road favorites against the Bucs, to be honest!
So if you’re betting on who the Cowboys face first in the playoffs? I’d have my money on Tampa Bay and maybe a sprinkle on the Eagles.
For more on this topic, check out Monday’s episode of my nightly show A to Z Sports Dallas Primetime below!
Featured image via Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
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