Last week didn't go well for the Cowboys playoff hopes. While Dallas did their part by beating the New York Giants, the teams they needed to lose also handled their business. As such, we find ourselves in basically the same scenarios as last week and with fewer opportunities for movement.
With the Philadelphia Eagles clinching the NFC East, Dallas' focus turns solely to the Wild Card race. Catching the Eagles was a longshot, but Carson Wentz's injury might have opened that door wider if they'd lost to the Rams. Unfortunately, that option is now entirely out the window.
Here are the current NFC playoff standings:
- Philadelphia Eagles (11-2)
- Minnesota Vikings (10-3)
- Los Angeles Rams (9-4)
- New Orleans Saints (9-4)
- Carolina Panthers (9-4)
- Atlanta Falcons (8-5)
- Seattle Seahawks (8-5)
- Detroit Lions (7-6)
- Green Bay Packers (7-6)
- Dallas Cowboys (7-6)
- Los Angeles is ahead of New Orleans thanks to a head-to-head (H2H) victory in Week 12.
- New Orleans has swept Carolina this year, giving them the H2H tiebreaker.
- Atlanta has a H2H tiebreaker over Seattle from Week 11.
- Detroit currently has a H2H tiebreaker over Green Bay from Week 9. They play again Week 17.
- Green Bay has a H2H tiebreaker over Dallas from Week 5
Now, let's get to the games on the Week 15 schedule that can impact the NFC playoff picture.
Dallas Cowboys @ Oakland Raiders
The Raiders, despite being 6-7 now, are still in the playoff hunt in the AFC. The 6th seed is only 7-6 and even the current AFC West leader, Kansas City, is 7-6 also. Oakland still has a puncher's chance, so they won't be laying down for the visiting Cowboys.
Obviously, Dallas can't afford another loss this year. There's a possibility that 10-6 won't even get them in based on tiebreakers and the high records of other teams, so 9-7 is as good as eliminated. "Just win, baby," the infamous quote of former Raiders owner Al Davis, is fitting for the Cowboys now and going forward.
Chicago Bears @ Detroit Lions
Detroit has the 7-6 record as the Cowboys, so it'd be nice to get them out of the way. The Bears shouldn't be much trouble for them, but the Lions are on the road next week in Cincinnati and then host Aaron Rodgers and the Packers in Week 17. They shouldn't be the reason Dallas doesn't make the playoffs.
Cincinnati Bengals @ Minnesota Vikings
The Vikings aren't really an issue for the Cowboys, but their game next week against the Packers is. Minnesota can clinch the NFC North if they win this week, which means they may lose some fire in the belly when they head to Lambeau. A Minnesota loss here would have them hungrier to win in Green Bay, which would be in Dallas' best interests.
New York Jets @ New Orleans Saints
The best thing for Dallas would be the Saints and Panthers both going cold and allowing the Falcons to take the NFC South. That would pull Atlanta out of the Wild Card, where they are a major threat to the Cowboys with their H2H tiebreaker. That scenario is unlikely, though, so the better odds are for the Saints to keep winning and putting a loss on Atlanta next week.
Philadelphia Eagles @ New York Giants
If Philly keeps winning, that Week 17 matchup with Dallas may not matter for them. If they're 13-2 going into that final game, they may have already clinched the top seed and be able to rest starters. That is the best scenario for the Cowboys at this point.
Green Bay Packers @ Carolina Panthers
It's hard to say which outcome is better for the Cowboys here. Carolina is already two games up on Dallas, but the Packers have that H2H tiebreaker and now have Aaron Rodgers returning. With this week's game against Green Bay and then Week 17 in Atlanta, the Panthers can probably help Dallas more by winning out and hanging losses on the Packers and Falcons. They can have that fifth seed, so long as they help us get the sixth.
L.A. Rams @ Seattle Seahawks
Even if Seattle wins this one, Dallas can catch up next week when they play each other in Ezekiel Elliott's return game. However, the Rams have a H2H tiebreaker against Dallas so it behooves us for them to win their division and leave Seattle in the Wild Card race. We clearly should root for Los Angels in this one.
Atlanta Falcons @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers
If you haven't figured it out by now... ATLANTA NEEDS TO LOSE. They need to lose now and keep right on losing through the end of the season. It's that simple.
Cowboys Restructure Witten, Sign Tackle Cameron Fleming
After adding a couple of wide receivers and a rotational linebacker earlier in the week, the Dallas Cowboys are still making moves in Free Agency. This time they restructured the beloved veteran and legend Jason Witten to create some cap space for the season, saving $3.5M.
Paired with Travis Frederick's restructure, the Cowboys have now freed up more than $10M by restructuring veteran players.
Witten's restructure, though, doesn't make fans feel as comfortable as with Frederick's. Witten, although being a future first-ballot Hall of Famer and one of the best tight ends to ever play the game, is not the same guy he once was. He's still reliable, but his production has clearly declined.
Gold Jacket Witt's contract was a very team-friendly deal which allowed the Cowboys to part ways with him with no dead money at all. The restructure however, changes that. Dallas will probably be looking for their tight end of the future in the 2018 NFL Draft, but Witten is clearly the guy at least for next season.
After the restructure was announced, the Cowboys signed the formerly New England Patriot Cameron Fleming to provide offensive line depth as well as a desperately-needed swing tackle.
Source: the Cowboys are expected to sign free agent offensive tackle Cameron Fleming.
Signing Fleming raises some questions regarding how the Cowboys' offensive line will look next season. The former Patriot should probably be nothing but a backup, but one has to wonder if they'll even consider playing him at right tackle to move La'el Collins back to left guard.
We know they love position flex and it could very well be an option.
However, Collins did have a good season on the right side of the line in 2017. With the 19th pick in the NFL Draft, Jerry Jones & Co. could pull the trigger on a player like Isaiah Wynn or Will Hernandez and have the most dominant offensive line in the league with a very solid backup in Cameron Fleming.
Here at Inside The Star, we'll continue to update you on every move the Cowboys make, as well as scouting reports on the new faces who will be wearing the Star this year.
Cowboys WR Allen Hurns: Number 88 Is “All Dez”
Friday, the Cowboys "finally" made a splash in free agency, and did so in a big way. By signing former Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Allen Hurns to a two year deal worth $12 million, Dallas bolstered their weak receiving corps with another big-bodied threat.
Due to some similarities in their game, and the number of resources already invested into that wide receiver room, some have anticipated that the signing of Hurns signals the end of Dez Bryant's time in Dallas.
Allen Hurns, however, clearly has different plans.
Not sure what number I'll be rocking yet but that 88 all Dez
Hurns took to Twitter to state that the number 88 is "all Dez," hinting that both he and Bryant will be on the roster in 2018. A receiving corps with both Hurns and Bryant can be dangerous, especially if used correctly.
Allen Hurns may "look" like an X receiver, but he has the ability to move into the slot as well. He can be used as a compliment to what Bryant does, and is a legitimate number two option for the Cowboys going forward.
While Hurns may believe that Bryant is safe, Terrance Williams may not be. Williams has struggled with inconsistencies and bone-headed plays during his time in Dallas, and most fans believe it's time to move on from him. The problem is, the Cowboys just paid him.
According to cap gurus, Dallas gets basically nothing back from cutting Williams, meaning they may need to find a trade partner if they want to move on. Reacting to the public reaction of the Hurns signing, Williams also took to Twitter to voice some frustrations.
Lol at people seriously!
Yes, it appears he read your tweets.
The Cowboys now have a lot of wide outs on their roster, all fighting for roster spots and playing time. Hopefully, this competition breeds success in the 2018 Dallas Cowboys.
Free Agent WR Allen Hurns Plans to Sign With Cowboys
It looks as if the Dallas Cowboys will be adding yet another wide receiver through free agency. According to sources, Allen Hurns plans on signing with the Cowboys.
WR Allen Hurns just told me, "I'm going to sign with Dallas." #Cowboys
This is a move that seemed unlikely after the Cowboys signed Deonte Thompson a few days ago, but I know a lot of Cowboys Nation will be excited about this transaction.
While this move is exciting, it does create more confusion for the Cowboys and their wide receivers. It's difficult to imagine all of these WRs sticking to the roster, which means there will be some tough decisions that need to be made.
What will the Cowboys do with Dez Bryant?
Will Cole Beasley be cut or traded?
Are the Cowboys comfortable absorbing Terrance Williams' cap hit if traded or released?
Will this keep the Cowboys from drafting a WR early?
All of these questions and more will have to be answered eventually. But, one thing is for sure, things are definitely about to get interesting.
Of course, there is a bonus here for the Dallas Cowboys. Since Allen Hurns was released by the Jacksonville Jaguars, he doesn't count against the Cowboys compensatory picks next season.
Please stay tuned and we will continue to keep you updated on contract details and any other news involving Allen Hurns as it becomes available.
What do you think about the Allen Hurns signing?
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