Week 12 Playoff Projection: Big NFC Showdowns on Thanksgiving

Week 11 in the NFL had minimal impact on the playoff standings. The Detroit Lions moved a notch ahead of the Atlanta Falcons, who were on their bye, but the six playoff teams remained the same.

If the NFL playoffs started today, these would be the NFC standings based on the teams with records at .500 or better:

  1. Cowboys Headlines - Dallas Cowboys 3 X Factors Against Philadelphia EaglesDallas Cowboys (9-1)
  2. Seattle Seahawks (7-2-1)
  3. Detroit Lions (6-4)
  4. Atlanta Falcons (6-4)
  5. New York Giants (7-3)
  6. Washington (6-3-1)
  7. Minnesota Vikings (6-4)
  8. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-5)
  9. Philadelphia Eagles (5-5)


  • The Lions  are ahead of the Vikings in the NFC North due to a head-to-head victory in Week 9. They play again tomorrow.
  • The Lions (4-2) are ahead of the Falcons (4-3) due to a better record against NFC opponents.
  • The Buccaneers (4-3) are ahead of the Eagles (3-5) due to a better record against NFC opponents.

We could see new teams in the playoff picture after some big NFC games this week. The most critical game are both tomorrow on Thanksgiving Day.  Here’s a rundown of all playoff-relevant action in Week 12, and what Cowboys fans should be rooting for.

Minnesota Vikings @ Detroit Lions

A huge division showdown will kick off Week 12. Detroit can take a two-game lead in the NFC North with a victory as it will give them the sweep over Minnesota this year. The Vikings want to avoid that, obviously, but also need to stay ahead of the Philadelphia Eagles. They lost to the Eagles in Week 7.

At this point it’s hard to say what’s best for the Cowboys. They will play both Detroit and Minnesota over the final six weeks of the season, so those outcomes will determine what tiebreakers may be in play.

Washington @ Dallas Cowboys

This is one of the biggest showdowns between Dallas and Washington in many years. The Cowboys nine-game win streak began in Washington in Week 2, with both teams playing better now than they were earlier in the year.

The Cowboys will retain their spot as the NFC’s top seed even with a loss, though it will put them dangerously closer to their division foes. A loss for Washington would likely knock them out of their Wild Card spot.

Arizona Cardinals @ Atlanta Falcons

Once one of the NFL’s hottest teams, the Falcons have come back to earth with three losses in their last five games. They are now only a game ahead of Tampa Bay. Fortunately for Atlanta, they will be hosting a limping Cardinals squad. Arizona will be desperate to win to get back to .500, but Atlanta is coming off their bye week and should be favored.

With Arizona all but out of it, a Falcons loss is what benefits Dallas most. We have a comfortable three-game lead over them in the NFC standings, but every little bit helps.

New York Giants @ Cleveland Browns

Every team in the NFC East gets the gift of playing Cleveland this year. The Giants shouldn’t have any trouble with the Browns, but face a much stiffer opponent next week with a another road game in Pittsburgh.

Seattle Seahawks @ Tampa Bay Bucs

A surprisingly meaningful game, the Seahawks fly east to face a Buccaneer team that has the playoffs in their crosshairs. Seattle should clinch the NFC West soon and is now just playing for their seeding. The Bucs are both a game back of Atlanta in the NFC South and just a few wins from a Wild Card spot.

Clearly, Dallas fans will be rooting for a Seattle loss to increase our hold on the NFC’s number-one seed. Home field advantage is nice anytime, but especially if it means keeping it away from the Seahawks.

Green Bay Packers @ Philadelphia Eagles

Still only two games back of their division rivals, the Packers aren’t dead yet. They still have Aaron Rodgers and the Eagles have lost five of their last seven games. Both teams will be desperate, and the veteran Rodgers can handle that pressure better than rookie Carson Wentz.

Obviously, Philadelphia’s pain is Dallas’ pleasure. With no strategic value in a Packers loss, we can freely root against the Eagles as nature intended.

What do you think?


Written by Jess Haynie

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!

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