The six playoff teams remained the same from last week, but there was movement in the seeding. Detroit moved into the second spot, with its first-round bye, thanks to Seattle's loss in Green Bay.
Dallas' loss narrowed their lead in the NFC East and postponed in other clinching scenarios. They will have to win their division before any first-round byes or other perks can become official.
If the NFL playoffs started today, these would be the NFC standings. I've included the teams with records of .500 or better.
- Dallas Cowboys (11-2)
- Detroit Lions (9-4)
- Seattle Seahawks (8-4-1)
- Atlanta Falcons (8-5)
- New York Giants (9-4)
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-5)
- Washington (7-5-1)
- Minnesota Vikings (7-6)
- Green Bay Packers (7-6)
- The Falcons are ahead of the Bucs in the NFC South based on a better record in common games. They split their season series and have the same 3-1 record in the division.
- The Vikings are ahead of the Packers due to a head-to-head victory in Week 2. They play each other again Week 16 in Green Bay.
You won't see a standings much cleaner than this. There are no tiebreakers currently at play among the six playoff teams or even Washington as they look from the outside. Everyone is separated by at least one game.
Dallas is once again involved in one of the most playoff-relevant games of the week. Here's a breakdown of all of the NFC games which could impact the postseason. As always, we'll be looking at these from the standpoint of what's best for the Cowboys.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Dallas Cowboys
Dallas will be looking to right the ship after their first loss since Week One and a few weeks of offensive struggling. Tampa Bay, winners of a five in a row and in a close division race, won't be looking to help us out.
The Bucs come into this game with plenty of confidence. A few weeks ago they put down two playoff-caliber teams in Kansas City and Seattle. They are 5-1 on the road so far in 2016.
With nobody else even at 10 wins yet in the NFC, Dallas can lose and keep their top spot. However, for the sake of their own confidence and to fend off the Tony Romo Truthers, the Cowboys really need the win and to look good doing it.
Detroit Lions @ New York Giants
Dallas gets help either way here. Ideally, the Giants lose and open the door for Dallas to clinch the NFC East by beating Tampa. Getting the NFC East taken care of allows you to focus on other goals and start resting whatever guys you may be wanting to get healthier for the postseason.
If New York wins, Detroit maintains their NFC North lead but could be in striking distance for both the Vikings and Packers. It would also likely allow Seattle back into the top two seeds and give the eventual NFC South champion a better shot at it.
Keep in mind that Dallas plays at Detroit next week. I'd rather not play them returning home after a loss.
Los Angeles Rams @ Seattle Seahawks
Seattle's loss last week was costly. It dropped them out of the top two seeds and dropped them to a 4-4-1 record in the NFC. Thankfully for them, they get a fluffer this week in the dysfunctional Rams. Seattle will win this one and win big.
They finish out the season in the division with the Cardinals and 49ers, so they will likely be 11-4-1 at the end of the year. Whether or not that's good enough to get back into a first-round bye depends on the Cowboys, Giants, and Lions.
Green Bay Packers @ Chicago Bears
The Packers' three-straight wins, and especially last week's blowout over Seattle, has the Cheeseheads all riled up again. They are only one game back of a Wild Card spot now.
The Bears are just 3-10 and don't look like much of a threat. Their three wins were all at home, though, and two of them against Detroit and Minnesota. Playing for only pride and to spoil a division rival, can they hold their ground one more time?
Indianapolis Colts @ Minnesota Vikings
The Vikings got off their losing streak recently but still have problems. The Colts are just as middling, making this a close match-up against two average teams.
Minnesota's defense gave Dallas a lot of trouble two weeks ago, so I'm not that keen on seeing them again in January. However, if the Vikings can sneak into the postseason then they are probably the worst team of anyone left in the mix. For that reason, I'm rooting for them the rest of the way.
San Francisco 49ers @ Atlanta Falcons
This is a big week for Atlanta, getting a soft opponent at home while the Bucs head to Dallas. They can take a big step toward clinching the NFC South.
The 49ers are a bad team but do hold a little extra significance for Atlanta. Right now, the Falcons have a tiebreaker over the Bucs based on common games. Tampa Bay beat San Francisco earlier this year, so the Falcons will not want to drop this one and lose the tiebreaker.
Carolina Panthers @ Washington
A loss by Tampa opens the door for Washington to get back into that last Wild Card spot, so they have plenty to play for this week. The pressure should be on them the rest of the way with the Vikings and Packers right on their heels.
Although Dallas swept Washington this year, both were hard-fought and close games. I'd much rather face non-division opponents in the playoffs.
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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