The Dallas Cowboys got some of their presents a day early. Needing help from other NFC team to make it into the playoffs, Dallas has several other games go its way today to help open the way for them to secure a Wild Card spot.
Needing one of Atlanta, Carolina, or New Orleans to go 0-2 over the final weeks, Dallas got their best shot as the Falcons lost today in New Orleans. They now will host the Carolina Panthers next week, who clinched a playoff spot today with a win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The good news is that Carolina still has a lot to play for. They are tied with the Saints in the NFC South and could win the division next week, earning a home playoff game. The Panthers will also likely be motivated to keep their division rivals out of the playoffs. The Falcons won't have it easy in Week 17.
What's more, Dallas needed the Detroit Lions to lose one of their remaining two games to avoid losing out in a tiebreaker situation. The Lions did just that, falling on the road to the Cincinnati Bengals.
The Cowboys still have to do their part, of course. They have to win today against the Seattle Seahawks and then next week in Philadelphia. But now, Dallas almost has their fate in their own hands. Thanks to today's losses, all they need now is a Falcons loss next week to guarantee they'll be playing in January.