Cowboys Clinch 1st Playoff Spot Since 2018 with 49ers' Loss to Titans

Tyler Conway@@jtylerconwayFeatured Columnist IVDecember 24, 2021

ARLINGTON, TEXAS - NOVEMBER 14: Dak Prescott #4 of the Dallas Cowboys celebrates a touchdown against the Atlanta Falcons at AT&T Stadium on November 14, 2021 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images)
Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images

The Dallas Cowboys clinched a playoff spot for the first time in three years with the San Francisco 49ers' 20-17 loss to the Tennessee Titans on Thursday night. 

Dallas can now focus on clinching the NFC East division in Week 16 through a win over the Washington Football Team or a Philadelphia Eagles loss to the New York Giants.

This is the Cowboys' first playoff appearance since 2018 and the first under coach Mike McCarthy. Dallas was overrun by injuries across its roster in 2020, most notably to Dak Prescott, but has been far healthier this season. 

That's not to say the team that will be heading to the playoffs is a perfect picture of health. 

Running backs Ezekiel Elliott (knee) and Tony Pollard (foot) are banged up, and tackle Tyron Smith sat out Week 15 with an ankle injury. Cowboys receivers CeeDee Lamb, Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup have been in the lineup together only three times all season.

Now that the playoff spot is clinched, the Cowboys can focus on seeding. They are in the mix for the NFC's No. 2 seed behind the 11-3 Green Bay Packers. However, they're jockeying with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Los Angeles Rams and Arizona Cardinals, who are all sitting at 10-4 entering Week 16.