Now that we've crossed into the second half of the season, it's time to start looking at playoff seeding. Every week we'll check out the current standings and seedings while also breaking down each game that has any NFC playoff relevance.
If the NFL playoffs started today, these would be the NFC standings based on all the NFC teams with records at .500 or better:
- Dallas Cowboys (8-1)
- Seattle Seahawks (6-2-1)
- Atlanta Falcons (6-4)
- Detroit Lions (5-4)
- New York Giants (6-3)
- Washington (5-3-1)
- Philadelphia Eagles (5-4)
- Minnesota Vikings (5-4)
- Arizona Cardinals (4-4-1)
- The Vikings are behind the Lions in the NFC North due to a head-to-head loss in Week 9. They play again on Thanksgiving Day in Detroit.
- The Vikings are behind the Eagles due to a head-to-head loss in Week 7.
The most notable thing here is the overwhelming presence of NFC East teams. The Cowboys would be the top seed with New York and Washington taking both Wild Card Spots. Top top it off, the Eagles are next closest to earning a playoff spot.
Obviously, there's still a lot of season to go and there will be some big shifts. Technically, the 1-8 San Francisco 49ers are still mathematically in the playoff race. However, using common sense, we're going to look at things through a realistic lens.
So, with that said, let's take a look at the NFL Week 11 games that will impact the NFC playoff standings. As always, we'll be look at everything from the standpoint of what helps our Cowboys.
New Orleans Saints @ Carolina Panthers
The Saints are 4-5 and fighting to stay relevant. The reigning NFC Champions, at 3-6, have won two of their last three and may still be hoping for a late-season surge. A loss here will do considerable damage those goals. Neither team is likely to catch the Falcons in the NFC South, but they could still be Wild Card factors if they string some wins together.
Baltimore Ravens @ Dallas Cowboys
Dallas bring its eight-game winning streak back home to host the 5-4 Ravens. It won't be easy for the Cowboys as they face Baltimore's top-ranked defense, but other strong run defenses haven't been able to find answers for Ezekiel Elliott. Dallas should keep to their winning ways.
Jacksonville Jaguars @ Detroit Lions
Detroit's tenuous lead in the NFC North will be helped by a visit from the struggling Jaguars. The Lions have won four of their last five and Matthew Stafford is playing the best football of his career. They should pick up another win here.
Tampa Bay Bucs @ Kansas City Chiefs
Like the Saints and Panthers in their division, the Buccaneers are just trying to stay close. They are 4-5 now but face a tough road test against the 7-2 Chiefs. This will likely be a backwards step in Tampa's postseason push.
Chicago Bears @ New York Giants
The pesky Giants, at 6-3, should get the win at home against the declawed Bears. New York has a head-to-head tiebreaker against Dallas currently, so every week they can keep pace is notable for Cowboys fans. With seven weeks left in the season, a two-game lead doesn't mean much.
Arizona Cardinals @ Minnesota Vikings
Still in the mix with a 5-4 record, the Vikings feel like they're about done this season. They've lost four straight and it whatever voodoo was helping them early in the year has vanished. They might get the win here against a middling Cardinals squad, but neither of these teams has the feel of a playoff contender.
Philadelphia Eagles @ Seattle Seahawks
The biggest game in the NFC this week, the Eagles are hanging around the playoff picture at just a half-game behind Washington. Seattle is starting to look like their old selves now that Russell Wilson is healthy. The Cowboys benefit either way here, but one could argue that an Eagles win does them more good as it keeps Seattle further from the top seed and home field advantage.
Green Bay Packers @ Washington
Desperation has struck Wisconsin as Aaron Rodgers and his head coach are trading barbs in the media. The perennial NFC-contending Packers will be looking right the ship against a solid Washington team. While I enjoy seeing the calamity in Green Bay, a Washington loss is still better here to help pad the Cowboys' division lead.
REPORT: Cowboys Visiting With Free Agent S Eric Berry Tuesday
According to Ian Rapoport, the Dallas Cowboys have a meeting scheduled to visit with Free Agent Safety Eric Berry Tuesday at The Star.
Source: Former #Chiefs S and new free agent Eric Berry is visiting the #Cowboys on Tuesday. His first visit. They have a need there...
Eric Berry has spent his entire career with the Kansas City Chiefs after they drafted him fifth overall in the 2010 NFL Draft. After signing Earl Thomas last week, the Chiefs decided to part ways with their former All-Pro Safety.
Berry, 30 is an intriguing free agent for the Dallas Cowboys. When healthy, he is arguably one of the best safeties in the league. Unfortunately, injuries have kept him off the field these last few seasons causing him to only start in only three games since 2016.
This is a move many of us expected to happen after the Cowboys decided not to get into a bidding war for Earl Thomas, a player linked to Dallas for over a year now. In Berry, Cowboys Nation would be getting a similar player with the same kind of red flags. Both Thomas and Berry have to be approached with caution due to their injury history the past few years.
Depending on his asking price, Eric Berry absolutely makes sense for the Dallas Cowboys. He would be an upgrade over Jeff Heath and would pair well with the Cowboys up-and-coming three-year safety Xavier Woods.
This is still just a visit, so we should probably get our hopes up that a signing is imminent. But, I think we can all agree Eric Berry is exactly the "right kind of guy" Jason Garrett is always preaching about. He's a cancer survivor, five-time Pro Bowler, and All-Pro player. What's not to like!?
BREAKING: Dallas Cowboys Signed DE Kerry Hyder
The Dallas Cowboys added more defensive line help today after signing former Detroit Lions Defensive End Kerry Hyder.
Going back to Texas! #CowboysNation
Hyder, 27 originally signed as an undrafted free agent out of Texas Tech with the New York Jets in 2014. He spent a year in New York before signing a future/reserve contract with the Detroit Lions in January 2015.
He had a breakout eight-sack year with the Lions in 2016, but tore his Achilles in 2017 causing him to miss the entire season. In 2018 he had just one quarterback sack after Detroit switched to a 3-4 defensive scheme.
Overall, this is a good depth signing by the Dallas Cowboys. Kerry Hyder has starting potential, but shouldn't keep the Cowboys from upgrading the position further through either another free agent signing for the draft.
Dallas Cowboys 2019 Free Agency: Week One Recap
It's been just a week since NFL free agents could begin negotiating with other teams, but it feels like a lifetime for anxious Cowboys fans. Dallas' seemingly passive approach to 2019 free agency has left many disappointed. Still, there are some moves to recap.
As has become their strategy in recent years, the Cowboys have focused on filling up their depth chart and trying to avoid any glaring holes prior to next month's draft. They've re-signed several backups and added at least one likely rotation player.
It's still far too early to judge Dallas' activity. Comparing the 2019 roster to last year will depend heavily on the draft, growth from current players, and other factors. But with the "second wave" of free agency upon us, it's a good time to look at who's come, gone, and stuck around so far.
- TE Jason Witten (unretired)
- TE Codey McElroy (Rams)
- DT Christian Covington (Texans)
The biggest addition so far this offseason wasn't even a free agent, at least not in the purest sense of the term. Jason Witten's surprising return from retirement helped shore up one of Dallas' biggest needs, though it may not preclude them from drafting a tight end high in April.
Also at tight end, Dallas signed developmental project Codey McElroy. His experience is in baseball and basketball, having played just one year of college football. But at 6'6'" and 255 lbs., and having spent last year working with the Rams, the Cowboys must see something they're intrigued by.
Last week Dallas signed Christian Covington, who had 3.5 sacks for Houston in 2018 playing as a 3-4 defensive end. He should move to DT in the Cowboys' scheme and should be a solid addition to their rotation.
- WR Cole Beasley (Bills)
- TE Geoff Swaim (Jaguars)
- DL David Irving (shenanigans)
- LB Damien Wilson (Chiefs)
Beasley is heading to Buffalo on a four-year, $29 million deal. It appeared the relationship soured between Cole and Dallas over his playing time last year, and clearly the Cowboys didn't fight hard to keep him.
Damien Wilson followed Anthony Hitchens to Kansas City to help round out their linebacker corps. Once it was announced that Dallas was hanging on to Sean Lee in 2019, it was fairly certain that Wilson wouldn't be back.
Also not expected back was TE Geoff Swaim, who signed with Jacksonville. Even before Witten came back, Dallas appeared likely to stick with Blake Jarwin and Dalton Schultz for returning talent and then add an upgrade via free agency or the draft.
While still a free agent, nobody expects David Irving back in Dallas or even the NFL after recent activities. Irving appears focused on a Hollywood career and advocating for medical marijuana use at this point.
- FB Jamize Olawale
- WR Tavon Austin
- WR Allen Hurns (team option)
- OT Cam Fleming
- G/C Joe Looney (team option)
- DE DeMarcus Lawrence (franchise tag)
- DT Daniel Ross (ERFA)
- LB Justin March-Lillard
- S Darian Thompson
While Dallas put the franchise tag on prized pass rusher DeMarcus Lawrence, his return in 2019 is far from settled. Lawrence has previously sworn he wouldn't play under a second franchise tag this year, and last we heard the two sides are far apart on a long-term deal. Could a holdout be on the horizon?
The Cowboys doubled-down on WR depth by re-signing Tavon Austin and exercising their team option on Allen Hurns' contract. Both are able to play out of the slot, meaning we could see more of a rotation approach to replacing Cole Beasley next year.
Dallas also re-signed fullback Jamize Olawale, which was a surprise given his low usage rate last year. Perhaps the change to Kellen Moore at offensive coordinator was behind this one, hoping to take better advantage of Olawale's receiving skills going forward.
Joe Looney and Cam Fleming will also be back as valuable backups on the offensive line. Looney started 16 games last year at center and also helps at guard, while Fleming will be the swing tackle once again for his second season in Dallas.
On defense, Dallas kept Daniel Ross in their DT rotation after solid performance in 2018. Justin March-Lillard return at linebacker, particularly for his value on special teams. And Darian Thompson, a former third-round pick by the Giants, is back as an ongoing developmental player.
~ ~ ~
If this is any indication, next week's recap may have a lot more to discuss.
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