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Mailbag: Why Aren't The Cowboys The No. 1 Seed Over Seattle?

JOHN  OVERHOLTMAPLE SHADE , NJ
Can someone please explain why the Seattle Seahawks are the No. 1 seed when they finished the season with the same record as the Cowboys and the Cowboys beat them in the regular season? Doesn't that win give the Cowboys the tiebreaker?

David: I've lost track of how many times we've answered this question dating back to about Thanksgiving. Yes, the Cowboys defeated the Seahawks, and they would own the tiebreaker – if there was a two-way tie. Unfortunately, Green Bay also finished with a 12-4 record. In the event of a three-team tie, you can't use head-to-head – the Seahawks beat the Packers in Week 1, after all. The first tiebreaker for a three-team tie is conference record. Seattle finished 10-2 against NFC teams, while the Packers finished 9-3. Dallas finished 8-4 in the NFC, which leaves them as the odd man out for a bye. It's bad break for the Cowboys, but it's not an error, as so many of you seem to believe.

Nick: Couldn't have said it better myself, T.J.

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ANTHONY ODONNELLWINDSOR, CA
I know he hasn't always been consistent this season, but Bruce Carter has shown flashes and made some impact plays. Was wondering if you think there is a chance he is back next season starting on the strong side? Anthony Hitchens and Justin Durant are good but seem like better fits at the middle or the weak side spots.

David: It's funny, because Carter has been inconsistent enough to get benched as a starting linebacker. But he has also made four or five huge impact plays on the season – the pick-six against St. Louis, the two picks of RG3. In a perfect world, you'd love to have him back on a cheap contract. The thing about free agency, though, is that teams tend to overpay for need. I'd imagine someone will want to pay him to come in and take a starting role, and that's probably a little more than the Cowboys would want to spend on him.

Nick: Carter has been good here down the stretch, but really in the nickel defense. I don't think you can re-sign a player that probably won't start for you. If he can settle for a lesser contract then you can do it, but there's no way his agent is going to go for that. Those five interceptions will be a big bargaining chip in negotiations and it's likely  he will go somewhere in free agency, possibly to a 3-4 team. If you remember, he played well early in his career as one of the 3-4 inside 'backers.

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