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Dallas Cowboys

Week 15 Playoff Projection: Cowboys Trying to Stay On Top

Jess Haynie



Cowboys Headlines - Ezekiel Elliott Looking Special Behind Dallas Line

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.

  1. Cowboys Headlines - The Dak Prescott Hype: Why It's Completely Okay To Buy InDallas Cowboys (11-2)
  2. Detroit Lions (9-4)
  3. Seattle Seahawks (8-4-1)
  4. Atlanta Falcons (8-5)
  5. New York Giants (9-4)
  6. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-5)
  7. Washington (7-5-1)
  8. Minnesota Vikings (7-6)
  9. 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.

Go Panthers!


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!

Player News

Cowboys Sign Free Agent WR Deonte Thompson

Jess Haynie



Deonte Thompson

The Dallas Cowboys added some speed to their receiver corps today by signing free agent Deonte Thompson. He played for both the Chicago Bears and Buffalo Bills last season.

Thompson, who turned 29 last month, went undrafted in 2012. He had a quiet to start to his career as a reserve and practice squad guy in Baltimore and Chicago, but finally got a chance to shine with seven starts last year for the Bills. He 27 catches for 430 yards and one touchdown in just 11 games.

Ian Rapoport on Twitter

The #Cowboys signed WR Deonte Thompson, per agent @davidcanter. He gets 1-year, $2.5M with a $1M signing bonus.

Deonte brings some much-needed speed to the Cowboys offense. He ran a 4.31 40-yard dash as a rookie, and while he's 29 now he still poses more of a vertical threat than the current Dallas receivers.

Given the low salary in this deal, Thompson may not be seen as much than a replacement for Brice Butler near the bottom of Dallas' depth chart. We also have to wait and see what happens with the draft and other moves this offseason to know where he fits into the bigger picture.

For now, though, Cowboys fans can take a little comfort in knowing the front office hasn't completely fallen asleep at the wheel.

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Dallas Cowboys

Dallas Cowboys: How “Position-Flex” Has Handcuffed The 2015 Draft Class

Kevin Brady



Byron Jones

Over the last few years the Dallas Cowboys have placed a high level of importance on "position flex." They've drafted Swiss-Army knife players which could be moved around to different positions on the field.

By drafting players like Chidobe Awuzie and Xavier Woods last year, as well as Byron Jones in 2015, the Cowboys have tried to find these versatile players who can be used in multiple ways.

While this seems great on paper, this strategy has handcuffed the majority of their 2015 Draft Class, and is a key reason why the Cowboys seem to be in such a tough spot.

Byron Jones

The Cowboys' first round pick in 2015, Byron Jones, quickly became a favorite of mine during his rookie season. Incredibly athletic, long, and skilled in coverage, Jones was able to be both a fantastic cover cornerback and a solid middle-of-the-field safety due to his range.

Due to both injuries to his teammates, and Jones' own versatility, the Cowboys coaching staff couldn't keep Jones in just one spot. Once they discovered how great he was in man coverage against tight ends, they became enamored with trying to play him in the box.

Once in the box, Jones' struggles as a run defender were highlighted, and both the organization and the fans soured on him quickly.

Now it is rumored that Byron Jones will be moving back to cornerback full time. And while I do hope this is the case, the fact that he is in year four, and the Cowboys haven't been able to find their first round pick a permanent home is a huge indictment on their ability to evaluate and develop talent.

Chaz Green

Okay, hear me out.

The former third round pick of the 2015 Draft was brought in to be the swing tackle for the Cowboys his rookie year. Mainly due to injuries, Green did not see the field for much of his first two seasons. When he did fill in for Tyron Smith at left tackle in 2016, however, Green was very effective.

Of course, Chaz Green's last appearance with the Cowboys was ugly, giving up a plethora of sacks against the Atlanta Falcons. But Dallas might've made their own bed with Green during the beginning of the 2017 season, when they attempted to move him to left guard full time.

Instead of getting the increased work at tackle, and continuing to work as the swing tackle for the team in case of injury, Dallas started Green at left guard early on in the year. He struggled trying to move positions, and looked even worse when trying to move back to tackle.

Once again, the position flex bit the Cowboys right in the backside.

La'el Collins

It's 2018 and we are still talking about what position to play La'el Collins on the offensive line. And that is solely on the coaching staff and front office, not Collins.

Collins was brought in as an undrafted free agent in 2015, but was widely regarded as a first round pick heading into that draft. Though he started at left tackle at LSU, Dallas shifted Collins inside to left guard in 2015. After taking over for Ronald Leary as the starter, Collins produced highlight blocks week after week.

Injuries shortened his 2016 campaign, but heading into 2017 the Cowboys decided to shift him back out to right tackle. Despite some early struggles, Collins progressed nicely throughout the year and became a solid starting right tackle. Plus, he has the upside to become one of the top right tackles in the league.

Instead, it is now being rumored the Cowboys might move him back to guard for 2018. And with that news, I continue to pull my hair out over the position-flex decisions this coaching staff and front office like to make.

If the Cowboys want to get the most out of each draft class, and effectively develop their talent, they need to let those players actually develop, rather than move them around each season. Hopefully they now understand this, and allow both Byron Jones and La'el Collins to reach their full potential.

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Player News

Dallas Cowboys Sign LB Joe Thomas to 2 Year Deal

Sean Martin



Dallas Cowboys Sign LB Joe Thomas to 2 Year Deal

At long last, the Dallas Cowboys have their first free agent addition of this offseason. Having lost starters Jonathan Cooper and Anthony Hitchens at left guard and linebacker respectively, the team has added depth at LB with Joe Thomas signing a two-year deal.

The 2018 season will actually mark Joe Thomas' second stint with the Dallas Cowboys, as he was signed to their practice squad in 2015. The team that signed Thomas out of South Carolina State following the 2014 draft, the Green Bay Packers, added Thomas back to their active roster for the 2015 season.

Jon Machota on Twitter

Source: Cowboys have agreed to a 2-year deal with free agent LB Joe Thomas. He visited the Cowboys today. Thomas has played in 42 games over the last three seasons with the Packers. He had a career-high 70 tackles in 2016.

Thomas has spent the last three seasons starting eight games for the Packers, recording 70 tackles and an interception in 2016.

A contingency plan of Sean Lee and Jaylon Smith carrying the Cowboys for 16 games at LB requires adequate depth, which is exactly what the Cowboys are typically in the market for come free agency. Waiting longer than usual to make their first splash, the Cowboys absolutely need an addition like Thomas to perform better than last year's FA class.

Used in sub packages by the Packers while also playing special teams - where the Cowboys have lost core players in Keith Smith and Kyle Wilber - Thomas will have a great chance to impress two new Dallas coaches in Ben Bloom and Keith O'Quinn.

Tell us what you think about "Dallas Cowboys Sign LB Joe Thomas to 2 Year Deal" in the comments below. You can also email me at, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!

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