Updated Dallas Cowboys Playoff Outlook with Potential Serious Dez Bryant Injury

Brandon Alisoglu@@BrandonAlisogluCorrespondent IDecember 11, 2012

ARLINGTON, TX - DECEMBER 02:  Dez Bryant #88 of the Dallas Cowboys scores a touchdown against  Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie #23 of the Philadelphia Eagles at Cowboys Stadium on December 2, 2012 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

After a crazy come-from-behind win over the Cincinnati Bengals, one would expect the playoff picture to be looking more clear than clouded for the Dallas Cowboys

Unfortunately for "America's team," that's not the case.

Confirmed: #Cowboys' receiver Dez Bryant has torn ligaments in his finger and will have season-ending surgery, be placed on IR.

— Richie Whitt (@richiewhitt) December 10, 2012

So now what? Can the Cowboys still make the playoffs?

Let's take a look.

The Offense

Obviously, the loss of Bryant is not going to help the offense in any manner. He hauled in 75 catches for 1,028 yards, which works out to a 13.7-yard average. 

While those numbers are concerning, they can be replaced. But Dallas is going to feel the sting of losing Bryant in the red zone. He had nine touchdowns, which is almost twice as many as any other Cowboy.

While Miles Austin is the same height as Bryant, he doesn't have his natural leaping ability. Dallas will have to adjust as they are essentially losing their jump-ball receiver. 

However, Tony Romo still has the sure hands of the Cowboys all-time leading receiver in Jason Witten as well as Austin. These two have combined for 147 receptions for 1,699 yards and six touchdowns. 

They'll adjust.

The Schedule

Any time you're analyzing a Tony Romo-led team, you have to take into account different variables. Like the possibility that Dallas could go 3-0 or 0-3.

Next week is going to be the big test.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are coming off an embarrassing home loss to the San Diego Chargers. While it would make sense for the defense to wake up this week, one has to wonder if they can just dial it up at anytime anymore.

The New Orleans Saints are on their way out, and seem more lost now than they did at the beginning of the season. And the Washington Redskins, with or without Robert Griffin III, are going to be a tough divisional out.

Thus, two out of three games are likely going to be against teams with something to lose. That's a scary proposition.

The Competition

For the moment, let's give the Seattle Seahawks one of the wild card spots while taking the Chicago Bears out of the equation. One team looks to have a stranglehold on its future, while the other doesn't appear to know what's going on.

And we're also going to give the Giants the division. This is just what they do.

That leaves the Cowboys, Redskins and the Minnesota Vikings fighting it out for the last spot.

The 'Skins have recently suffered a devastating injury themselves. Although, RG3's injury isn't a season-ender and there's a possibility  that he could go this week. And they get to play the maybe-good-now Cleveland Browns and still-not-that-good Philadelphia Eagles.

That's an easier slate to the final showdown than the one owned by Dallas.

On the other side, there's the Vikings, who have to face the St. Louis Rams, Houston Texans and Green Bay Packers. Adrian Peterson would have to reach an  unforeseen level to overcome those teams and Christian Ponder.

The Verdict

The Dallas Cowboys, even without Bryant, are still in a great position to make the postseason party. I'd give them a 35 percent shot of making the playoffs, as opposed to the 45 percent chance for the 'Skins with the remainder going to the Vikings.

The reason for the odds is that I'd give the Redskins a slight advantage in the season-ending contest.

Unless your team is one of the  perennially elite, any fan should appreciate those odds.


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