December 05, 2012

If You Still Have Optimism, Some Dallas Cowboys Playoff Scenarios

If You Still Have optimisim, some Dallas Cowboys playoff scenarios

 

For the true die-hards out there who think there’s still a chance.

 

By Matthew Postins

If you’re an optimistic Dallas Cowboysfan, you’re still clinging to hope that the Cowboys can make the playoffs.Well, with four games left, mathematically, the Cowboys are still alive. Here’s where the Cowboys stand and how it could break down.Where the Cowboys are now: Right now the Cowboys are No. 8 in the NFC pecking order. The Top 6 teams go to the postseason. By virtue of their win over the New York Giants on Monday night, the Washington Redskins slipped in front of the Dallas Cowboys into No. 7, which is where the Cowboys were setting after their win on Sunday. That’s due to the fact that Washington beat Dallas on Thanksgiving Day.Winning the NFC East. This would be, by far, the easier road for the Cowboys. Right now they’re one game behind the Giants for first place and they’ve split their season series with the Giants. The Redskins are also one game behind and they’ve also split their season series with the Giants. Right now the Giants are 2-3 in the NFC East, the Cowboys are 3-2 and the Redskins are 3-1. For this to work to Dallas’ advantage, they first need the Giants to lose another game and fall into a tie, which is possible when you look at the Giants’ remaining schedule, which I outline below. In a scenario in which the Giants and Cowboys end up tied for the division title, it would come down to head-to-head (which is a tie), followed by division record. If the Cowboys and Redskins end up tied for the division lead, you could skip head-to-head and go to division record. If all three of them end in a tie, then you start with the division record (since they split with each other), followed by record in common games, which is the third tiebreaker. Record in conference games is the fourth tiebreaker, if it gets that far.If the Giants were to lose another game and fall into a tie for the division lead, the Cowboys are actually in a favorable position, based on their split with the Giants and the fact that they still have the Redskins on the schedule. In this scenario, as long as they stay in a first-place tie, they would have control over their destiny.The Wild Card. This is a far less likely scenario. Here’s why. The two Wild Card teams if the season ended today are Chicago and Seattle. The Bears and Seahawks have both beaten the Cowboys. So in any scenario in which they end up in a tie for a Wild Card berth with either of those teams the Cowboys would lose the tiebreaker. Barring a complete collapse by either the Bears or the Seahawks, this seems unlikely.The schedule. The Giants host New Orleans this Sunday, followed by road games at Atlanta and Baltimore and a season finale at Philadelphia. The Giants might have the hardest schedule of the three contenders, but Dallas is pretty close. Their next two games are against Cincinnati and Pittsburgh, both of which are in the playoff hunt in the AFC. After that they host New Orleans and go to Washington to end the season. Washington probably caught a break. After their home game against Baltimore this weekend, the Redskins get Cleveland, Philadelphia and Dallas. That’s certainly the easiest road of the three contenders.Realistically? I still don’t consider the Cowboys a legitimate playoff contender. Why? Well the Cowboys, realistically, need to win three of their final four games and they cannot lose to Washington. A win over New Orleans would help their conference record, in case they need that tiebreaker. The bigger issue is while the Cowboys just got done winning three of their last four games, they haven’t finished a season winning six out of eight games since 2007, when they went 13-3 and won the division. The Cowboys have managed to win five of their final eight games twice since then, but if the Cowboys did that in this case they would only end up going 8-8. The Cowboys need to win three of their final four to go 9-7, a record that gives them a realistic chance to win the division, if the Giants continue to falter and if the Cowboys can beat the Redskins in the finale. 

 

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