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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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Is Kavon Frazier Fighting a Losing Battle With the Dallas Cowboys?

Brian Martin

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Is Kavon Frazier Fighting a Losing Battle With the Dallas Cowboys?

Dallas Cowboys Safety Kavon Frazier has one year remaining on his rookie contract, but may not see the end of it with the same team who drafted him. In fact, it really looks as if he is already fighting a losing battle in Dallas.

The Dallas Cowboys signed Free Agent George Iloka and drafted Donavan Wilson out of Texas A&M in the sixth-round of the 2019 NFL Draft in the hopes of upgrading the safety position. That doesn't bode well for Kavon Frazier, especially after seeing his defensive snaps take hit in 2018.

After the arrival of Defensive Backs Coach and Passing Game Coordinator Kris Richard, Frazier saw his playing time on defense go from 21.24% in 2017 to 18.07% in 2018. It's not a huge difference, but it's pretty obvious the Cowboys value his special-teams ability, not his defensive play.

The way I see things, Kavon Frazier is a longshot to make the Cowboys final 53-man roster this year. At best, I have him fifth or sixth on the depth chart right now. Since Dallas typically only carries four safeties on the roster, it's looking as if Frazier could inevitably be the odd man out.

Kavon Frazier

Dallas Cowboys S Kavon Frazier

I personally have Xavier Woods, Jeff Heath, and George Iloka ahead of Kavon Frazier right now on the depth chart. That means he's competing with Darian Thompson, who is also playing on a one-year deal, and rookie Donovan Wilson for that fourth and final roster spot at the safety position. Unfortunately for Frazier, it looks as if the odds are against him.

Donovan Wilson has already had to step into Frazier's shoes while he was out in OTA's after having his knee scoped, and has been pretty impressive doing so. He has supposedly picked up the defensive scheme pretty quickly and is becoming a vocal leader on the backend. Being a younger, cheaper option, Wilson has a better chance of sticking around on the final 53-man roster over Frazier.

As you can see, Kavon Frazier is fighting an uphill battle with the Dallas Cowboys. It of course is nothing new for him. He's had to fight his way onto the roster ever since he joined the Cowboys, but this year just seems a little different in my opinion. It just looks as if the odds are more against him this time around.

I have no doubts Frazier will continue to fight with every ounce of his being, but if I'm being completely honest I think he's fighting a losing battle. It's going to be really interesting to see how this roster battle at the safety position plays out in training camp and preseason.

Do you think Kavon Frazier is fighting a losing battle with the Dallas Cowboys?



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Dallas Cowboys: The Case For Regression In 2019

Kevin Brady

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Predicting Dallas Cowboys Roster Locks, Pre-Training Camp Edition
Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

It's been a few years since things around the Dallas Cowboys felt this good prior to a season. Coming off a 10-6 year in which Dallas won both the NFC East and a home playoff game before losing a one possession road game to the future NFC champions, Cowboys Nation is expecting some big things in 2019.

After all, the Cowboys went out and improved their roster in multiple ways this offseason and brought in some new blood on their offensive coaching staff. Spirits are high among Cowboys Nation, and just about everyone is anticipating a two team race for the NFC East.

But some numbers indicate we should be thinking "not so fast."

The details of the 2018 season are not as pretty as the total picture. Rarely are they ever, of course, but these particular details point towards possible regression for the Cowboys in 2019.

Basically, their point differential a year ago spells out impending doom. (That was dramatic, but let's discuss).

The Cowboys were +15 in 2018, and by pythagorean wins expectation, they were about as strong as an 8-8 team (8.53 wins to be exact). This means they won nearly 2 more games (1.47) than would be expected, fourth most in the entire NFL.

This point is furthered when looking at their record in one possession games. Dallas went 8-2 when the game was decided by 7 points or less, winning close games at a rate that is simply not sustainable year to year.

These numbers make the Cowboys a prime candidate for regression in 2019, as they were in 2017.

Why The Numbers Expect Regression, But Success For Cowboys In 2017

Back in 2016, the Cowboys outperformed their pythagorean expectation by a whole 2 wins. The following season? Dallas finished the year 9-7. The model also indicated that the 7-9 Eagles performed 2 wins under expectations in 2016, meaning they would get back on track in 2017. As we know, they ended up winning 13 games and the Super Bowl the following season.

Of course, this isn't set-in-stone, and the Cowboys very well could outperform these expectations and avoid regression. This would mainly hinge on their coaching staff and quarterback performing at an elite level, carrying them through close games and winning more games by greater than one possession.



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Newly Acquired DE Robert Quinn Brings High Expectations

Kevin Brady

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Robert Quinn
Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Winning games in the NFL typically comes down to accomplishing two goals. One, being successful when passing on offense. And, two, stopping the opposing team's passing game.

The Cowboys set out to accomplish that second goal this offseason, re-signing defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence, and trading for veteran pass rusher Robert Quinn. Quinn, who tallied 6.5 sacks last season for the Miami Dolphins, is one of the leagues more feared rushers when at his best. The former All Pro has multiple 10+ sack seasons under his belt, including a whopping 19 in 2013.

And, as expected, the Cowboys coaching staff is ecstatic to have such a respected pass rushing specialist on their roster.

“He’s got that first step. He’s an established pass rusher in this league, so he’s going to bring some good stuff for us.” - Cowboys defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli.

The Cowboys acquired Robert Quinn for a 2020 6th round pick, which could end up being the steal of the offseason. Quinn has played with some top-notch pass rushers in the past, and each time they have brought out the best in his own game.

Back with the Rams in 2017, when Aaron Donald was on the same defensive line, Quinn got to the quarterback 8.5 times. And, last season, he remained consistent in his sack totals playing alongside Cameron Wake. Now he joins a DeMarcus Lawrence who has 25 sacks over the last 2 seasons.

"I think it was kind of one of those where I get to have fun, pin my ears back and just disrupt the backfield, which is what they want us to do." - Robert Quinn told NFL.com. 

Quinn and the always dominant Lawrence will form an impressive defensive end duo on passing downs, with the potential to be one of the best in all of football. Dallas is also hoping to add Randy Gregory into this mix, a piece which could prove vital late in football games if he is able to return from his current indefinite suspension.

Whether or not Gregory finds his way back onto the field, though, this defensive front will be in good hands. The edge combo of Quinn and Lawrence, combined with a plethora of skilled interior rushers such as Maliek Collins, gives the Cowboys a fearsome defensive line which should keep quarterbacks uncomfortable every Sunday.



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