Cowboys playoff floor set, ceiling still sky high after Week 17 early slate

Apparently it’s still Christmas in the DFW. Going into the holiday season, the Cowboys had a lowly 0.5% chance of earning the NFC’s No. 1 seed and a bye week. Somehow, with the majority of Week 17 in the books, that chance still remains. Make no mistake, Dallas’ collapse at Jacksonville that ended with a stunning Noah Bown drop that turned into a Pick 6 still stands as the most important thing that has happened to the Cowboys the second half of the season. But even with that loss, the results since have allowed Dallas to stay alive in their pursuit of the Philadelphia Eagles.

Since, Dallas took out the Eagles 40-34 in Week 16 and then took out the Tennessee Titans. That 27-13 win moved the club to 12-4 with a game remaining. Then on Sunday in the early window, the Eagles continued to struggle, falling to the New Orleans Saints 20-10. The loss dropped them to 13-3 and for the second consecutive week they failed to lock up home-field advantage.

Here’s a look at the early Week 17 results and how they impact the Cowboys’ postseason picture.

Saints 20, Eagles 10

As stated above, the loss means the Eagles still have work to do. At a minimum, they can be caught be the Dallas Cowboys. A Dallas win over Washington in Week 18 combined with a Philadelphia loss to the Giants would give the Cowboys the improbably gutshot straight to a division title.

Depending on how the late games go, the Eagles could have the same record as the Minnesota Vikings, who they defeated earlier in the season. They could also have just a one-game lead over the San Francisco 49ers, who would own a tiebreaker were they to finish with the same record.

All of this means that at worse, the Eagles will need to try their best in the final week of the season. With a banged up QB who has missed the last two games in Jalen Hurts, this is the last thing head coach Nick Siriani expected or wanted. Even if they end up still winning the conference, their bodies will show the effects of this home stretch and their confidence will be shaken.

Giants 38, Colts 10

Unfortunately, the wish that the Colts resembled a professional football team was quickly dashed. The Eagles’ Week 18 opponent is the Giants, who not only clinched a wild-card spot but also clinched the No. 6 seed. They had no chance of catching the No. 5 seed.

The question is just how much first-year head coach Brian Daboll wants to lean into division rivalries, but the answer is probably not much. The Giants will play the following week, so it’s doubtful their key players see much action unless he believes in momentum over health.

Dallas’ dreams of the division title didn’t end with the NY win, but it’s exceedingly difficult.

Tampa Bay 30, Carolina 24

And now the Cowboys know for sure who they will play if the miracle stretch doesn’t continue. The Buccaneers came back from an early 14-point deficit and then held on for their eighth win of the season. Tom Brady and company have secured the NFC South championship and are locked into the No. 4 seed in the conference.

That means that whomever doesn’t win the East, whether that be Dallas or the Eagles, will travel to Tampa on wild-card weekend.

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