Skip to main content

Playoff Scenarios: How Cowboys Get 1-2 or 5-Seed


The Cowboys are in the playoffs – we've known that for about three weeks now.

But when, where and the opponent? That will be determined on Sunday, with lots of different scenarios surrounding the Cowboys as they head to Washington for the Week 18 finale.

Here are the scenarios for the possible seeds, followed by the possible postseason matchups as well.

Currently, the Cowboys sit in the No. 5 seed and will play at Tampa Bay (No. 4 seed) unless they move up based off a win against the Commanders, along with other favorable outcomes.

No. 1 seed – The Cowboys (12-4) can still claim the top seed in the NFC, which not only assures them home-field throughout the playoffs, but the only first-round bye. For that to happen:

  • Dallas beats Washington
  • Philadelphia loses to NY Giants
  • San Francisco loses to Arizona
  • (Note: The Cowboys and Eagles would both have a 13-4 record, but Dallas would win the NFC East because of a better division record, and then would take the No. 1 spot in the NFC. The Eagles would move to No. 5.)

No. 2 seed – The Cowboys would get the second seed, meaning they would play at home for at least two games, assume they advance. But there is no bye week for the second seed. For the Cowboys to finish No. 2 in the NFC, they would need the following:

  • Dallas beats Washington
  • Philadelphia loses to NY Giants
  • San Francisco beats Arizona
  • (Note: The 49ers and Cowboys would both be 13-4, but SF would get the tiebreaker over the Cowboys because of a better record within the conference.)

No. 5 seed – This is where the Cowboys stand at the moment. If they don't beat the Commanders, or the Eagles win over the Giants, they remain at No. 5 and will play at Tampa Bay next week. The Bucs are locked into the No. 4 spot as the winners of the NFC South, despite their current 8-8 record.

As for the possible opponents in the first round of the playoffs, here's the scenarios for each matchup:

  • Tampa Bay (8-8) – The most likely opponent because this is how it's slated right now. Unless the Cowboys can move up to No. 1 or No. 2, they will be playing at Tampa Bay next week. Don't forget they have never defeated Tom Brady in a regular-season game but this would of course be the first postseason matchup.
  • Green Bay (8-8) – If the Cowboys can find themselves in the No. 2 spot, they would host the seven-seed. Currently, the Packers have that spot but have to defeat the Lions at home on Sunday night. If the Packers win, they will get the 7-seed and travel to No. 2, which could be the Cowboys, who lost to the Packers in Lambeau Field back in November, 31-28 in overtime.
  • Seattle (8-8) – For the Seahawks to land the No. 7 spot, they'll have to defeat the Rams in Week 18, which would eliminate the Lions from the playoffs. Still, they would need Detroit to beat Green Bay on the road, to give the Seahawks the edge over the Lions, whom they defeated earlier in the season. Seattle would be the No. 7 and play at No. 2 Dallas.
  • Detroit (8-8) – The Lions need some help earlier in the day, hoping the Rams can knock off the Seahawks. If that happen, they'll have to win at Green Bay on Sunday night to land the No. 7 spot. That would set up a road game at No. 2, which could be the Cowboys. Dallas defeated the Lions back in October, 24-6 at AT&T Stadium.

Related Content