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Week 17 Playoff Projection: NFC Playoff Seeding Still Wide Open

Jess Haynie

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Cowboys Headlines - Dallas Cowboys Game Day Keys To Success
Tim Heitman - USA TODAY Sports

The Cowboys became the NFC East Champions and the top seed in the playoffs last week when the Giants lost to the Eagles. Despite this, they still played to win last Monday night against Detroit. Ironically, beating the Lions was a huge help to Dallas' greatest rival.

If the Lions had won, they would've clinched a playoff spot and shut Washington and Tampa Bay out. The NFC's six playoff teams would've been set and this week would've only been about determining the seeding. However, Detroit's loss preserves hope for Washington and a much, much slimmer chance for the Buccaneers.

If the NFL playoffs started today, these would be the NFC standings:

  1. Cowboys Headlines - ESPN Marks Jason Witten as Future Cowboys Head Coach 1Dallas Cowboys (13-2)
  2. Atlanta Falcons (10-5)
  3. Seattle Seahawks (9-5-1)
  4. Green Bay Packers (9-6)
  5. New York Giants (10-5)
  6. Detroit Lions (9-6)
    ------------------------
  7. Washington (8-6-1)
  8. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-7)

TIEBREAKERS

  • The Packers are ahead of the Lions due to a head-to-head win in Week 3, but their game this week will determine the NFC North Champion.

Dallas and New York are the only teams locked into their playoff positions. The Giants are guaranteed the 5th seed as none of the other potential Wild Card teams are capable of getting to 10 wins.

Here is a rundown of the games this week with playoff implications. The 2nd seed and it's first-round bye are still up for grabs, keeping things interesting for the Falcons and Seahawks games.

New York Giants @ Washington

Washington guarantees themselves the 6th seed with a victory. They would be at 9-6-1 and the loser of the Packers-Lions game is guaranteed to have a 9-7 record. Washington would have no shot at the if they lose, essentially making this a playoff game for them.

With the Giants locked into the 5th seed, they have the dilemma of choosing between rest and rhythm. New York will likely rest some starters as they'll be playing on the road a week from now. However, they could be motivated to try and deny a division rival from making the playoffs.

Green Bay Packers @ Detroit Lions

Flexed to Sunday Night Football because of its potentially heavy stakes, this rivalry showdown should be fun to watch. The winner takes the NFC North and could even be vying for a first-round bye depending on other games. The loser could miss the playoffs completely.

If Washington wins earlier in the day, the Packers and Lions will know that the loser doesn't make the playoffs. If Washington loses, either Green Bay or Detroit will be the 6th seed. That will take some of the intensity out of the game, but a playoff home game and a division title are still on the line.

New Orleans Saints @ Atlanta Falcons

The Falcons are in the driver's seat for the 2nd seed and the other first-round bye. All they have to do is win and nothing else matters.

If Atlanta loses and Seattle wins, the Seahawks would clinch the #2 spot with a slightly better overall record. The Falcons could then potentially drop to the 4th seed depending on the Packers-Lions outcome.

In the unlikely scenario that both the Falcons and Seahawks lose, Atlanta will suddenly be rooting for the Packers. They have a head-to-head tiebreaker and would still be the #2 seed. The tiebreakers with Detroit would be much more complicated, coming down to common opponents. My current calculation is that Detroit would have the tiebreaker thanks to a win over the Eagles, who Atlanta lost to earlier this year.

Seattle Seahawks @ San Francisco 49ers

Here's a simple one for you. The Seahawks clinch the 2nd seed with a win and a Falcons loss. If both Atlanta and Seattle win, the Seahawks will be #3 and host either Washington or the Packers-Lions loser in the first round.

If they lose, Seattle is guaranteed to be the 4th seed and hosting the Giants in their first playoff game.

Carolina Panthers @ Tampa Bay Bucs

The scenario for the Bucs to make the playoffs is incredible complicated and barely worth considering. However, since we're here...

  • Week 17 Playoff Projection: NFC Playoff Seeding Still Wide OpenBuccaneers beat Panthers
  • Washington and Giants TIE
  • 49ers beat Seahawks
  • Cowboys beat Eagles
  • Lions beat Packers
  • Colts beat Jaguars
  • Titans beat Texans

So... yeah...



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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DL Kerry Hyder Helps Solidify A Re-Tooled Defensive Line

Kevin Brady

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DL Kerry Hyder Helps Solidify A Re-Tooled Defensive Line

The Cowboys got off to a busy start to week two of free agency on Monday, and capped it off by signing defensive lineman Kerry Hyder to a one year deal.

The former Detroit Lion could be classified as a "one year wonder" of sorts, but when you look closer at his career arc, you see that Hyder can provide upside at multiple positions across the Cowboys' defensive front.

After having 8 sacks and 19 quarterback hits as a defensive end in 2016, Hyder missed all of 2017 with an achilles injury. Last season, under new head coach Matt Patricia, Hyder was moved out of position and forced to play as a nose tackle and 5-technique more often.

So, the last time Hyder was healthy and playing in the role in he will likely fill in Dallas, he was productive. Yes that was a couple of seasons ago but it makes Hyder worth the one year deal he received from the Cowboys.

What exactly is that role, though?

I see Hyder primarily as a rotational 3-technique for the Cowboys. At just 270 pounds Hyder isn't going to play over the center often, and won't be very useful as a 1-technique against the run. He's at his best when lining on the outside shade of an offensive lineman, where he can use his get-off and quickness to create pressure.

Kerry Hyder can also fill in at defensive end if needed, especially when the Cowboys go into a nickel package. Hyder is similar to Tyrone Crawford in his ability to move inside and out, but is a bit better of a pass rusher than Crawford when at his best.

Hyder is a high energy, motor, and character defensive lineman who will fit right in with a Rod Marinelli unit. If it all clicks for Hyder and he regains his 2016 form, the Cowboys will have stolen an impressive pass rushing defensive lineman who can win from multiple positions.

If Hyder is actually a "one year wonder" who is more of his 2018-self with the Cowboys despite being put in a better role to succeed, Dallas can move on rather quickly because he is only on a one year deal.

This is a smart signing by the Cowboys front office as they look to re-tool their defensive line, and avoid being pigeon-holed into over-drafting at a certain position this Spring.



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New Cowboys WR Randall Cobb Announces His Signing With A Fantastic GIF

Kevin Brady

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New Cowboys WR Randall Cobb Announces His Signing With A Fantastic GIF

On Tuesday this week it became official the Cowboys would sign former Green Bay Packers wide receiver Randall Cobb to a one year deal worth an estimated $5 million. After his visit Monday morning, speculation around whether and when he would sign was swirling.

Cobb confirmed his intentions to join the Cowboys himself, and did so with some A+ GIF usage on Twitter.

Randall Cobb on Twitter

Randall Cobb on Twitter

https://t.co/9H9xfApFqe

In case you don't know, the GIF Cobb tweeted is Woody from Toy Story, emerging confidently and tipping his cap.

This was Cobb signaling that he his a Cowboy, and he appears excited to be joining America's Team. Cobb also received some social media love from his now former teammates in Green Bay, including wide receiver Davante Adams and quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

Davante Adams on Twitter

Go do ya thang 18. Can't thank u enough for guiding me through this thing and showing us all how to be a pro. Love u brudda I'm excited for your next chapter ✊🏾 #187

RJ Ochoa on Twitter

Aaron Rodgers had some parting words for new Cowboys WR Randall Cobb

Clearly Randall Cobb made an impact in Green Bay, both on and off the field. Let's hope he can replicate some of that in Dallas now that he has joined the Cowboys.



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Malik McDowell Is Well Worth The Risk For The Dallas Cowboys

Kevin Brady

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Malik McDowell, Michigan State

The Dallas Cowboys are reportedly brining defensive lineman Malik McDowell into The Star this week for a visit, as they decide whether or not to potentially sign him for the 2019 season.

McDowell is a former second round pick of the Seattle Seahawks, who fell to day two because of what scouts call "off the field" or "character" concerns. McDowell did not last long with Seahawks, as he was released in 2017 following an ATV accident in which he reportedly suffered "extensive brain and eye trauma" according to Charles Robinson.

None of us know much about who Malik McDowell is as a person, or what concerns their really should be with his health. But what I do know is that on tape at Michigan State, McDowell was a top 5-10 player in the 2017 draft class. He was a stud, and has the traits to continue to be a stud in the NFL.

2017 NFL Draft: Scouting Michigan State DL Malik McDowell - Slant Sports

The 2017 NFL Draft is chock full of talented, athletic, and productive defensive linemen. While most of the draft pundits have focused on EDGE rushers thus far, the defensive tackle class also possesses some of this year's top NFL prospects. Arguably the best of those defensive tackles is Michigan State's Malik McDowell.

Back in 2017 I wrote a full scouting report on McDowell, detailing why he earned such a high grade on my board. McDowell is a versatile linemen who is explosive off the ball, powerful and rangy against the run, and a skilled pass rusher who plays with a high motor. What more could you really ask for?

"McDowell is a patient pass rusher at times, setting up the blocker how he likes and then beating them with ease. McDowell’s ability to swipe hands off helps him greatly, but his quick swim is his most effective pass rush move.

On this play he uses that swim to perfection, forcing the center to power down to the right before swimming back to the other side."

nfldraft malik mcdowell 3

Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.

When the Spartans went to a three man pass rushing front, McDowell moved to the EDGE often and made plays with his quick, active hands and impressive swim move. He was much more impressive on the interior, however, and could be a direct replacement for David Irving as an explosive and powerful 3-technique for the Cowboys.

nfldraft malik mcdowell 4

Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.

I love that the Cowboys are bringing McDowell in for a free agent visit. His price will likely be low, as he is yet to play in an NFL game over the last two years, but his ceiling remains very high if he is healthy. It's rare for a player with his college production, natural ability, and measurables to completely fail in the NFL.

Maybe all McDowell needs is a second chance to get his head right and prove that he belongs in the league. Maybe he flames out quickly and can't get on the field due to "off the field" stuff. Or, maybe he simply isn't healthy enough to contribute as an NFL player. Regardless, for the price he'll likely command, McDowell is well worth the risk if the Cowboys are willing to take it.



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