The Dallas Cowboys enter Week 15 coming off a huge win, beating the New York Giants 30-10. Quarterback Dak Prescott had a terrific game, throwing for 332 yards and three touchdowns, leading the Cowboys to a win over their NFC East rival. His performance set the tone for the Cowboys offense, which is why they won the game.
This season is different for the Cowboys, currently sitting at 7-6, trying to climb back into the playoff picture. The question is what exactly needs to happen for the Cowboys to make the playoffs?
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The Cowboys found a way to win without Ezekiel Elliott in Week 13 against the Redskins on Thursday Night Football and this past Sunday. They will need to win their next three games to have a chance of making the playoffs. The next three games for the Cowboys are:
Week 15 - @ Oakland Raiders
Week 16 - vs. Seattle Seahawks
Week 17 - @ Philadelphia Eagles
The Boys only have a chance of making into a Wild Card Spot, which means having a better record they need a better record or tiebreaker than at least all but one of those teams. Below is the current playoff picture with postseason percentages, starting with the wild card teams and the ideal outcomes.
5.) Carolina Panthers (9-4): Wild Card, 87% chance to make the playoffs
REMAINING OPPONENTS: vs. Packers (7-6), vs. Buccaneers (4-9), at Falcons (8-5)
The Cowboys need the Panthers to beat both the Packers and Falcons or lose three games. Both the Packers and Falcons own the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Cowboys this season.
6.) Atlanta Falcons (8-5) - Wild Card, 60% chance to make the playoffs
REMAINING OPPONENTS: at Buccaneers (4-9), at Saints (9-4), vs. Panthers (9-4)
The Falcons need to have fewer wins than the Cowboys since they beat the Cowboys and own the tiebreaker, but it wouldn't be surprising to see the Falcons lose two out of the next three games.
7.) Seattle Seahawks (8-5): 46% chance to make the playoffs
REMAINING OPPONENTS: vs. Rams (9-4), at Cowboys (7-6), vs. Cardinals (6-7)
With the Seahawks already at eight wins, the Cowboys will need them to lose at least two games. If the Cowboys beat the Seahawks in Week 16 they would own the tiebreaker and make the playoffs, if they both finish with 10 wins.
8.) Detroit Lions (7-6) - 19% chance to make the playoffs
REMAINING OPPONENTS: vs. Bears (4-9), at Bengals (5-8), vs. Packers (7-6)
The Lions are above the Cowboys in terms of playoff tiebreakers, so the Lions need to lose at least one game.
9.) Green Bay Packers (7-6) - 5% chance to make the playoffs
REMAINING OPPONENTS: at Panthers (9-4), vs. Vikings (10-3), at Lions (7-6)
The Packers own the tiebreaker since they beat the Cowboys this season, so if the Packers lose at least one game the Cowboys would make it in if Dallas wins out.
10.) Dallas Cowboys (7-6) - 3% chance to make the playoffs
REMAINING OPPONENTS: at Raiders (6-7), vs. Seahawks (8-5), at Eagles (11-2)
The chances aren't high for the Cowboys, but if they are able to win out, they give themselves a real shot. Even though the schedule is difficult with two games on the road, they will get back Ezekiel Elliott in Week 16. Assuming the Cowboys win this week, Week 16 is basically a playoff elimination game. If the Cowboys beat the Seahawks in Week 16 and both teams finish the season with 10 wins, then the Cowboys would own the tiebreaker thus making the playoffs, if all other scenarios above go perfectly.