The Dallas Cowboys needed a few breaks to top the Oakland Raiders, 20-17, on Sunday night. And to sneak into the playoffs, they’re going to need plenty more down the stretch.
Yes, the Cowboys got some help when the Panthers held off Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers, 31-24 in Carolina. Dallas also got an assist from the Los Angeles Rams, who took control of the NFC West with a dominating 42-7 win over the Seahawks in Seattle.
But, the Atlanta Falcons 24-21 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Monday Night Football really hurt the Cowboys chances at a postseason bid.
Here are the required outcomes for the Cowboys to get into the playoffs:
— Dallas must win-out (at home vs. Seattle, at Philadelphia) — a victory over the Seahawks on Christmas Eve would all but eliminate Seattle from playoff contention.
— Atlanta must lose its final two games (at New Orleans, at home vs. Carolina).
— Or, Carolina must lose its final two games (at home vs. Tampa Bay, at Atlanta).
— Detroit must lose one of two games (at Cincinnati, at home vs. Green Bay).
As things stand right now, Jason Garrett’s squad has a 5 percent chance of making the postseason, per Fivethirtyeight.com. At first glance, that’s a miniscule uptick from the 4 percent playoff odds the team had last week.
But, the Cowboys’ final two games don’t look nearly as daunting as they did just days ago. While the Eagles picked up another victory on Sunday, their offense isn’t likely to be as dangerous under the direction of backup quarterback Nick Foles.
The Cowboys will also welcome back star running back Ezekiel Elliott, who will return from a six-game suspension for an alleged domestic incident. On Sunday, thanks to Ian Rapoport of the NFL network, everyone got to see pictures of Elliott training in Cabo San Lucas.
Peter Dawson: 817-390-7657