Dallas Cowboys Playoff Scenarios: What Does Dallas Need To Make Postseason?

Zach KruseSenior Analyst IDecember 21, 2011

TAMPA, FL - DECEMBER 17:  Running back Felix Jones #28 of the Dallas Cowboys runs for a gain against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers December 17, 2011 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

Earlier, we discussed what the Philadelphia Eagles (6-8) have to do to crack the playoffs. They need a bunch of things to go right. 

The Dallas Cowboys (8-6), on the other hand, have a much clearer road to the postseason. 

Here are the possibilities for the Cowboys to get into the playoffs:

  • Dallas beats Philadelphia in Week 16, New York Giants (7-7) loses to New York Jets. Cowboys clinched NFC East.
  • Dallas beats Philadelphia in Week 16, Giants beat Jets. Cowboys beat New York in Week 17, clinch NFC East. 
  • Dallas loses to Philadelphia in Week 16, Giants beat Jets. Cowboys beat New York in Week 17, clinch NFC East based on conference-record tiebreaker.

Obviously, the safest path to the playoffs lies with two wins to close the season. 

However, the Cowboys have a chance to get in without winning two games. That might be the way  they ultimately get in, as Dallas has already lost to both the Eagles (34-7 in Week 8) and Giants (37-34 in Week 14). They need to beat one or the other for the first time this season to secure a spot. 

While I think the Eagles have a great chance at stealing the division over the final two games, this is still the Cowboys' to lose. They can ensure Philadelphia is a non-factor by beating them Sunday afternoon.

A redemption win in Week 17 has the same effect. Can the Cowboys win one of two to get back into the NFC playoffs?