Cowboys playoff picture: Dallas’ updated chances to win NFC East, top seed in 2023 NFL playoffs

The Cowboys still have a whole lot to play for with two weeks left in the regular season. 

Dallas (10-5) has enjoyed another solid campaign, bolstered by strong play by Dak Prescott, CeeDee Lamb, Micah Parsons and the rest of the crew. Mike McCarthy’s squad will get a chance to compete in the postseason once more, its third playoff appearance in as many seasons.

Still, just when it will compete is anyone’s guess. America’s Team is locked in a tight battle with the 49ers, Eagles and Lions for first-place in the conference. That would bring with it at bye week, as well as home-field advantage for the the whole of the playoffs.

For Dallas to rise to the forefront of NFC contention, though, it will need plenty of help.

MORE: Lions vs. Cowboys odds, props, predictions

Here’s what you need to know about the Cowboys playoff picture, including what they need to happen to sew up that No. 1 seeding.

Cowboys playoff picture

Dallas has already clinched a playoff spot. What spot in particular? Well, that’s still up in the air.

The Cowboys still have an outside shot at the No. 1 seed in the NFC. But that would require an unprecedented collapse by the 49ers, Eagles and Lions, something that just doesn’t seem all that likely at present.

No. 2 seeding could be on the cards for Dallas. After the Cowboys’ loss to the Dolphins in Week 16, however, the Eagles control their own destiny in that regard. Philadelphia is a full game up over its NFC East brethren for first place in the division.

The Lions are also in the mix, having secured a top-three seed with their NFC North title. Just what seed that will be remains to be seen, though; San Francisco, Detroit and Philadelphia all sport matching 11-4 records at present.

Things are tight at the top of the conference. But with just two more games left for each of the four sides pacing the NFC, here is the likelihood that each team will finish atop the conference, projected by the good folks out at NFL.com.

Team No. 1 seed chances
49ers 71
Eagles 20
Lions 8
Cowboys 1

The Cowboys have the slimmest chance of earning the No. 1 seeding, per NFL.com’s model. A date against Detroit in Week 17 could make things more interesting. But at present, it looks like it’s one of the 49ers, Eagles or Lions’ accolade to lose.

As for Dallas, every circumstance that allows for the Cowboys to capture top-billing the NFC playoff pictures hinges on Mike McCarthy’s squad winning its final two regular-season games. If that doesn’t happen, the Cowboys can kiss their No. 1-seed hopes goodbye.

A division title could still be on the cards for Dallas. But the odds aren’t in its favor at the moment; NFL.com’s model gives the Cowboys a 26 percent chance of capturing the NFC East crown. The Eagles are the overwhelming favorites for the divisional title, by comparison.

Team NFC East champions chances
Eagles 76
Cowboys 24

With a one-game lead in the standings and matchups against the 3-12 Cardinals and 5-10 Giants, you can certainly see why the model is championing Nick Sirianni’s side as the one to secure divisional supremacy.

MORE: Bears stay in position to land No. 1 pick after Panthers loss

Cowboys remaining schedule

The Cowboys end their season with duels against the 11-4 Lions and 4-11 Commanders. It’s about as big of a paradox as one could imagine in the final two games of the year: a date with one of the league’s best sides followed by a duel with one of its worst.

Week Team Record
17 vs. Lions 11-4
18 at Commanders 4-11

Dallas has fared alright against playoff-caliber competition this year, going 3-4 against teams above .500. A victory over Detroit could loom large as Dallas looks not only to capture the divisional crown, but also potentially usurp second place in the NFC from the Lions.

Still, for that to happen, they’ll need either the Giants or the Cardinals to pick up a shocking win against Philly in the coming few weeks.

The teams that the Cowboys will face to end the season have a combined strength of schedule of .500. That’s a lot more frightening of a proposition than what their divisional rivals Philadelphia have in store.

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