So You’re Saying There’s A Chance: How The Cowboys Can Win The NFC East And Claim The First Seed

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The Dallas Cowboys didn’t take the field on Sunday in Week 17 but still managed to come out victorious.

The Cowboys took care of business on Thursday Night Football, beating the Tennessee Titans 27-13. With the win, Dallas’ hopes of winning the NFC East and securing the first seed in the NFC playoffs stayed alive.

However, they needed a lot of help to keep those dreams going, and the Cowboys wishes were answered. First, the New Orleans Saints got a 20-10 upset win at Lincoln Financial Field against the Philadelphia Eagles. Then, the Green Bay Packers crushed the Minnesota Vikings 41-17.

Here’s an updated look at the NFC playoff picture after those unexpected Week 17 outcomes:

  • 1st seed: Philadelphia Eagles (13-3)
  • 2nd seed: San Francisco 49ers (12-4)
  • 3rd seed: Minnesota Vikings (12-4)
  • 4th seed: Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-8)
  • 5th seed: Dallas Cowboys (12-4)
  • 6th seed: New York Giants (9-6-1)
  • 7th seed: Seattle Seahawks (8-8)

Now, let’s review what needs to happen for the Cowboys to move out of the fifth seed. For all these scenarios to actually occur, the Cowboys must beat the Washington Commanders in Week 18, or Dallas is locked into the fifth seed. So we’re going to assume a Cowboys win for each of these hypothetical outcomes.

NFC East still up for grabs

The Eagles must lose to the Giants for Dallas to steal the NFC East crown. New York will be the sixth seed in the postseason regardless of what happens in Week 18. So it’s likely Giants coach Brian Daboll will rest starters, or any other players dealing with injuries.

The oddsmakers realize this, as the Eagles are currently 14-point favorites, according to DraftKings Sportsbook. Another reason for the massive point spread is the return of Jalen Hurts.

According to NFL insider Ian Rapoport, Hurts could’ve suited up vs. the Saints but Philadelphia opted to be overly cautious with its MVP-caliber QB. But Rapoport reported that Hurts will likely return from a two week absence in a game the Eagles need to win to clinch the NFC East.

First seed isn’t out of reach

In order for the Cowboys to get the NFC’s top seed and a first round playoff bye, Dallas must first win the NFC East. Then, the Arizona Cardinals have to take down the 49ers in Week 18.

For the 49ers, there’s still value in victory despite having already won the NFC West. If San Francisco loses and Minnesota wins, the Vikings will overtake the second seed and the 49ers will fall to the third seed.

The 49ers are 14-point favorites as they’ll hunt for a 10th-straight win on Sunday.

To ensure no team has the advantage of knowing the outcome of other games, the NFL has scheduled the Cowboys, Eagles and 49ers all to kickoff at 3:25 p.m. CST on Sunday. 

According to the sports analytics site Inpredictable, here’s the Cowboys’ odds at claiming the available seeds:

  • 1st seed: 1%
  • 2nd seed: 8%
  • 5th seed: 91%

While it’s very likely Dallas stays put, crazier things have happened.

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