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Cowboys Playoff Scenario: Week 15 Impact Games

Jess Haynie

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Dez Bryant

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:

  1. Philadelphia Eagles (11-2)
  2. Minnesota Vikings (10-3)
  3. Los Angeles Rams (9-4)
  4. New Orleans Saints (9-4)
  5. Carolina Panthers (9-4)
  6. Atlanta Falcons (8-5)
    ————————————–
  7. Seattle Seahawks (8-5)
  8. Detroit Lions (7-6)
  9. Green Bay Packers (7-6)
  10. Dallas Cowboys (7-6)

TIEBREAKERS

  • 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.

 

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Cowboys fan since 1992, blogger since 2011. Bringing you the objectivity of an outside perspective with the passion of a die-hard fan. I love to talk to my readers, so please comment on any article and I'll be sure to respond!

Dallas Cowboys

Sanjay Lal Hired As Cowboys WR Coach

Sean Martin

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Sanjay Lal Hired As Cowboys WR Coach

After hiring Paul Alexander to fill their vacant OL coaching position, the Dallas Cowboys are continuing to retool their offensive staff below Scott Linehan. Sanjay Lal has been hired to coach the Cowboys’ wide receivers, replacing Derek Dooley.

Lal has experience as a WR coach with four different teams, dating back to 2009 with the Oakland Raiders. He was promoted up to this position after serving as the Raiders’ quality control coach from 2007-08.

David Moore on Twitter

Sources: Cowboys have reached an agreement with Sanjay Lal to become the team’s WR coach. Lal was with Indianapolis last season and replaces Derek Dooley on the staff.

Most recently, Sanjay Lal coached the receivers for the Indianapolis Colts in 2017. He has also been with the Buffalo Bills and New York Jets.

In this interview with the Colts, Lal mentions being very detail-oriented with a focus on the technical aspects of playing receiver.

Lal beats out former Cowboys WR Miles Austin for this position, earning the right to lead a room of receivers in desperate need of fresh talent. In an offseason that’s been about finding fresh ideas with the coaching staff so far though, the Cowboys have a new voice on offense.

Tell us what you think about “Sanjay Lal Hired As Cowboys WR Coach” in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!

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Dallas Cowboys

Cowboys Losing Linebackers Coach Matt Eberflus to Colts

Jess Haynie

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Matt Eberflus, Sean Lee

Multiple sources are reporting Matt Eberflus — who has been the linebackers coach and passing game coordinator for the Dallas Cowboys — will leave to join the Indianapolis Colts as the new defensive coordinator. Eberflus has been with Dallas since 2011, having joined Rob Ryan’s staff when Ryan become the coordinator for the Cowboys’ defense.

He has been the linebackers coach during his entire Dallas tenure and was also named passing game coordinator in 2016.

Tom Pelissero on Twitter

With Josh McDaniels ticketed for the #Colts, former #Cowboys assistant Matt Eberflus is expected to come along as defensive coordinator, I’m told. Lot of parts falling in place now.

If not the Colts, some thought Matt Eberflus might end up replacing Matt Patricia as the defensive coordinator in New England. Either way, it does not appear Dallas could have kept him around while Rod Marinelli remains in his current position.

Eberflus’ work in Dallas speaks for itself, and primarily through LB Sean Lee.

He has been Lee’s position coach for all but his rookie season, and in that time Lee has been one of the top defensive players in all of football.

Beyond Lee, Eberflus has also been able to get quality play out of mid-round picks like Anthony Hitchens and Damien Wilson. We also saw Jaylon Smith make significant progress this season.

Given Matt Eberflus has never worked with Josh McDaniels before, the fact he was on the Colts’ radar says a lot.

Make no mistake; the Cowboys lost a good one here.

Don’t panic, however. Coach Marinelli has cast a very wide net during his time in the NFL and there are a lot of potential guys, some with plenty of experience, that Dallas might look to.

It’s entirely possible that Eberflus’ replacement will be someone who Marinelli spends 2018 grooming to take over as the defensive coordinator.

Still, of all the coaching changes so far for Dallas, this one hurts most.

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Dallas Cowboys

Cowboys Hire Longtime Bengals OL Coach Paul Alexander

Kevin Brady

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Cowboys Hire Longtime Bengals OL Coach Paul Alexander

Thus far the 2018 offseason has brought a plethora of change to the Dallas Cowboys coaching staff, especially on the offensive side of the ball. Now it is being reported the Cowboys have hired a brand new offensive line coach, former Cincinnati Bengals’ Offensive Line Coach Paul Alexander.

Alex Marvez on Twitter

Source tells @sportingnews that Paul Alexander hired as new @dallascowboys offensive line coach

Alexander coached with the Bengals for over 20 years, and replaces the same man in Dallas who replaces him in Cincinnati, Frank Pollack. Alexander has also been the Bengals assistant head coach since 2003.

The Cowboys recently lost an assistant head coach when Special Teams Coordinator Rich Bisaccia left for Jon Gruden’s Oakland Raiders.

Per usual, the hire has been met with mixed reactions from Cowboys Nation.

Joey Ickes on Twitter

Since 2003, CIN has had only one season where they finished top-10 in Yards per attempt on the ground… They’ve been bottom-5 in the league 5 times in that span… That’s the OL Coach DAL just hired.

The hiring of an offensive line coach who’s rushing attack finished bottom five in the league in rushing yards per attempt five times since 2003 doesn’t look too great on paper. He will also teach with different techniques and styles than previous Cowboys OL coaches, which could potentially set back the offensive line early in the season.

Plus, respected Bengals’ writer Joe Goodberry did not exactly love the hire for the Cowboys.

Goodberry on Twitter

Pretty bad https://t.co/fysjZqCQ6l

Regardless, this is still a very talented offensive line and one which should lead an effective ground attack based on their talent alone. 2017 proved further that coaching matters a lot in the NFL however, and the wrong hire could set back even the most talented of units.

We will just have to wait and see how this 2018 season ends up playing out.

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