Last week went fairly well for the Dallas Cowboys' 2019 playoff chances. They won a road game against an NFC opponent while the Philadelphia Eagles suffered a home loss, adding to Dallas' lead in the NFC East. Will Week 12 be so kind?
Dallas has arguably its toughest game of the season this week as they travel to New England. If the Eagles can bounce back in their game against Seattle then it will undo most of the good from Week 11.
If the season ended today, these would be your NFC playoff standings:
- San Francisco 49ers (9-1)
- Green Bay Packers (8-2)
- New Orleans Saints (8-2)
- Dallas Cowboys (6-4)
- Seattle Seahawks (8-2)
- Minnesota Vikings (8-3)
- Los Angeles Rams (6-4)
- Philadelphia Eagles (5-5)
- Carolina Panthers (5-5)
- The Packers (5-1) are ahead of the Saints (6-2) based on a superior record against NFC opponents.
- The Eagles (3-4) are ahead of the Panthers (2-5) based on a superior record against NFC opponents.
This weekly feature will focus on teams who are clear contenders in division or wild card races. We will adjust what teams are discussed as needed depending on shifts in the standings and if anyone currently unmentioned go on a late-season run.
Here are this week's games involving the current NFC playoff contenders. The Vikings are on bye.
Dallas Cowboys @ New England Patriots
The Patriots almost never lose at home, even when faced with an even level of competition. Based on where both teams are right now in their seasons, you would have a hard time arguing that Dallas is on New England's level.
That said, the Cowboys have a funny way of showing up when seen as underdogs. One of the great frustrations about this team throughout the Jason Garrett Era, and even before it, is how they rise and fall to the quality of their opponent.
If this week's game is consistent to many of the last decade, the Cowboys just might head north and score a major upset. It will be a huge boon to solidifying their division lead and securing a playoff spot.
And then they'll probably go lose to the Bears or Redskins or something.
Seattle Seahawks @ Philadelphia Eagles
Lose, Eagles, lose. Until Dallas clinches the NFC East there's really no scenario where a Philadelphia win would be a positive thing.
Sure, a loss for Seattle would help drop them closer to the Cowboys in a potential Wild Card situation.But we want Dallas to win the division and get that first-round home game, and every Philly loss helps toward that goal.
Carolina Panthers @ New Orleans Saints
While the odds aren't good at this point, it sure would be nice for Dallas to eventually clinch one of the top two seeds in the NFC. They need for the NFC front-runners, such as the Saints, to start dropping some games to make that happen.
New Orleans is two games ahead of Dallas overall and holds a head-to-head tiebreaker, Catching up to them won't be easy, or even likely, but clearly a loss here to Carolina would help.
Green Bay Packers @ San Francisco 49ers
This is a win-win scenario for Dallas. Even though the Niners have one more win than the Packers, Green Bay has a head-to-head tiebreaker over the Cowboys. So really, either of them losing here is about equally positive.
If you have to give an edge either way then I'd vote for the Packers losing. The Vikings are hot on their heels in the NFC North, meaning a slip by Green Bay could suddenly make them a Wild Card team. If Dallas has to play them in January, I'd much rather it be in Texas than Wisconsin.
Baltimore Ravens @ Los Angeles Rams
The Rams are barely hanging on right now as a Wild Card hopeful. While they aren't much of a threat at this point, they do have games left on their schedule against the Seahawks and 49ers. Losses by those teams could benefit the Cowboys, so I am rooting for Los Angeles to stay in the fight and remain motivated as the season continues.