Can Cowboys Still Make the NFL Postseason? Here’s the NFC Playoff Picture Before Week 16 Against Seahawks

With two weeks remaining of the 2017 NFL regular season, the Dallas Cowboys find themselves on the outside of the NFC playoff picture, looking in.

The Atlanta Falcons’ narrow Monday Night Football win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers eliminated the Green Bay Packers from the race and made Dallas’s job a significant degree more difficult.

The Falcons moved to 9-5 with that 27-24 victory, powered mainly by the hard running of Devonta Freeman. Dan Quinn’s team is a game ahead of the Lions (seventh seed in the NFC), the Seahawks (eighth seed), and Cowboys (ninth seed), all of whom are 8-6.

The good—and bad—news for the Cowboys is that there is still a viable path to the postseason. Dallas plays a Seahawks team that looked tired and beaten up against the L.A. Rams in Week 16 at AT&T Stadium. Ideally for Jason Garrett, the Cowboys blow past the fading Hawks and get a loss from the Lions against the Bengals. The Falcons play the Saints in New Orleans on Sunday. A win for the Saints would clinch the NFC South for Sean Payton and Drew Brees and leave the bottom of the playoff bracket in the NFC looking like this. (The Falcons own a tiebreaker over the Cowboys).

6th Seed: Falcons (9-6)

7th Seed: Cowboys (9-6)

8th Seed: Lions (8-7) and ELIMINATED via tiebreaker with Falcons and Cowboys

9th Seed: Seahawks (8-7) and ELIMINATED via tiebreaker with Falcons and Cowboys

Heading into Week 17, the Cowboys would need another slip from the Falcons, who have a nasty-looking game against the Panthers to finish with. Carolina could still be in contention for a first-round bye, so Atlanta can’t count on a lack of effort as it seeks to seal the sixth and final seed. The Cowboys end against an Eagles team that should be already locked into the NFC’s number one seed.

That looks like Dallas’s most likely route to the postseason, and it doesn’t seem an improbable one, especially with Ezekiel Elliott back in the lineup. The most likely scenario, though, seems to be for the Lions to nudge in ahead of the Falcons. Detroit has that Bengals game and finishes against the Packers, who will have shut Aaron Rodgers down for the season by then if they know what’s sensible for them.

Heading into an intriguing Week 16 in the NFC, though, and the Cowboys are still very much alive.