5 Scenarios That Could Boost Dallas Cowboys to Playoffs

Thomas Galicia@thomasgaliciaContributor IIDecember 10, 2012

5 Scenarios That Could Boost Dallas Cowboys to Playoffs

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    It was an emotional win for the Dallas Cowboys in Week 14, as they managed to outlast the Cincinnati Bengals 20-19.

    The win puts the Cowboys at 7-6 with a great shot at a post-season berth. However, nothing is guaranteed as they are still one game behind the Chicago Bears and Seattle Seahawks for the final playoff spots in the NFC.

    The bad news for the Cowboys is that they've already lost to both of these teams. The good news is that they still have a pretty decent shot at the playoffs, assuming the dominoes fall their way.

    How could the dominoes fall their way? Read on.

Dallas Controls Their Own Destiny

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    The Dallas Cowboys will make the playoffs if they win out.

    It's as simple as that.

    Of course there are a few caveats, like the fact that Chicago or Seattle has to lose twice, while the Giants have to lose once, but we will get to those scenarios.

    If the Cowboys lose even once, they might not be mathematically eliminated, but for all intents and purposes, their season is over. They do have a tough schedule down the stretch with Pittsburgh coming in next week followed by New Orleans, but these are all winnable games.

    So before we start talking about anything else that has to happen, know that the Cowboys will have to continue to win and finish 10-6.

Chicago Bears Collapse

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    Well, that was quite the fall from grace.

    The Chicago Bears at one point were 7-1. Then came a disastrous 1-4 stretch which saw Jay Cutler get knocked out of two games with an injury. Now the Bears are at 8-5, clutching to the final playoff spot with the slickest grip possible.

    I say slick due to the fact that one of those losses came against the Seattle Seahawks, and the other came to the Minnesota Vikings.

    Because of this, the Bears now have virtually no chance of winning the NFC North, a division that they led comfortably a little more than a month ago. A loss to Green Bay in Week 15 ends any chances of them winning the division.

    It also pulls them into a tie with the Cowboys (again, assuming that Dallas continues to win). While the Bears would win the tiebreaker with the Cowboys, if the two teams are tied with two games left in the season, this isn't such a bad thing. After Green Bay, the Bears will have to travel on the road to take on Arizona and Detroit.

    Sure those match-ups look like wins for the Bears, which should get them into the playoffs, however based off of how Chicago has played recently, couldn't the Bears losing to one of those teams after losing to the Packers be not only feasible, but also inevitable?

Seattle Slips

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    It's pretty difficult to see the Seattle Seahawks slipping.

    They've been hot in their last two games. First they went into Chicago and beat the Bears in overtime, then they embarrassed the Cardinals at home. They still have an outside chance at the NFC West title as well as the wild card.

    But with that said, they do have to travel out east again in Week 15 to take on the Buffalo Bills in Toronto. Considering how well Seattle did against the Miami Dolphins in their last trip to the eastern time zone, this won't exactly be a cakewalk regardless of Buffalo's record.

    Then the following week, Seattle hosts San Francisco. The last time the two teams played it was close, however the 49ers defense contained the Seahawks very well, plus they had Alex Smith under center and not Colin Kaepernick.

    Their final game of the season will come against a St. Louis Rams team that has been competitive. Seattle might have won their final game of the season in Week 14.

    That would leave Seattle at 8-8, which if Dallas wins out, would be two full games behind the Cowboys. Dallas needs to finish at least a game ahead of the Seahawks because they already have a loss against them, meaning a tiebreaker would go Seattle's way.

The Giants Late Season Magic Disappears

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    The New York Giants have to be the most erratic of the NFC's contenders.

    One week they will look terrible in losing to the Bengals. The next game they play, they make a statement against the Green Bay Packers on Sunday Night Football, only to follow that with a loss to the Washington Redskins.

    Who is this team? We will find out in the next two weeks, when the Giants have to travel to Atlanta and take on the 11-2 Falcons, followed by a trip to Baltimore.

    If New York loses those two games, then by the last week of the season, they could actually be one game behind the Cowboys and Redskins. It gets better for the Cowboys from there, as they have the better record within the NFC East (Dallas stands at 3-2 within the division, while the Giants are 2-3) with both teams facing divisional games.

    On top of that, the Giants would actually be in third place behind the Washington Redskins, who hold the best record within the NFC East at 3-1. The Redskins will likely be 4-1 with a Week 16 win in the matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles. This leads to another scenario of itself.

Winner Take All in Week 17

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    Let's say Dallas wins their next two games (both at home) while Washington does the same. What you will have is the Redskins and Cowboys both at 9-6 with one matchup left in the season against each other.

    It's winner take all now, and the easiest and least complicated way for the Cowboys to get into the post-season.

    Even if Washington loses in Week 15 against a feisty Cleveland Browns club, as long as the Giants lose at least once and the Redskins beat the Eagles, they are still in the catbird's seat for the playoffs, with the final game of the season being a potential winner-take all matchup against the Cowboys.

    To get it there though, Dallas has to keep winning. Due to the divisional records, Dallas can not afford another loss unless the Redskins lose to Philadelphia. As long as Dallas is 9-6 though, their game against Washington will decide their playoff fate.

    However, if three of the four scenarios occur (most importantly the Giants losing twice), then this game could very well just decide who hosts the Wild Card round game between the two teams.

    Dallas still has a fighting shot at the playoffs, but in the end, its in their hands alone.