The 2020 NFL season certainly hasn’t gone the way the Dallas Cowboys thought it would. A string of injuries, obviously including the one to Dak Prescott, and having one of the worst defenses in NFL history certainly doesn’t help things.
But here’s the crazy part.
Even at 2-7 and sitting in last place, the Cowboys are nowhere near out of the postseason race given the fact that the 2020 NFC East may go down as the worst division in the history of the NFL. Seriously, the Philadelphia Eagles are leading the division with a 3-5-1 record. Philly, however, has one of the toughest remaining schedules in the league, the fifth-toughest to be exact. And the New York Giants aren’t far behind. Washington doesn’t have as difficult a road to travel but it’s not as easy as the road the Dallas Cowboys can take to the postseason.
Besides the Seattle Seahawks, who essentially assured themselves of a postseason spot with their win over the Arizona Cardinals on Thursday night, no team has an easier schedule the rest of the way than the Dallas Cowboys.
The Seattle Seahawks essentially locked up a playoff spot on Thursday night
We’ll get back to the Dallas Cowboys in a moment but we certainly don’t want to deprive fans of the Seattle Seahawks a little something here given the title of this article.
With the Seahawks’ 28-21 victory over the Arizona Cardinals on Thursday night, Russell Wilson & Co. have essentially locked up a spot in the NFL postseason. Seattle moved to 7-3 on the year with the win over Arizona, moved into first place in a highly-competitive NFC West (although that would change if the Rams knock off Tampa Bay on Monday night), and have the easiest remaining schedule in the NFL based on the combined winning percentage of their opponents.
Seattle has only one game left on their schedule against a team with a .500 record or better and that’s a date with the Rams on December 27. But that’s it. The Seahawks have three games left against the woeful NFC East, which should benefit the Dallas Cowboys, as they have upcoming matchups with the Eagles, Giants, and Washington.
They also have a date with the winless Jets and will close their season in San Francisco against the 49ers. The Seahawks’ remaining opponents have a combined winning percentage of .330 so it shouldn’t be that difficult for them to lock up one of the top seeds in the NFC.
The Dallas Cowboys have the second-easiest remaining schedule in the NFL
Taking the Seahawks out of the equation, no team in the NFL has an easier remaining schedule than the Dallas Cowboys, at least on paper. Their remaining opponents have a combined winning percentage of .385 and, like Seattle, Dallas has just one game left against a team with a .500 or better record, the Baltimore Ravens, who will host the Cowboys on Thursday, December 3.
But the other six are all under .500, although the Minnesota Vikings (4-5) have won three straight entering Sunday’s matchup with the Cowboys. After their meeting with Minnesota, Dallas will host Washington (2-7) on Thanksgiving and will then play Baltimore the following Thursday. The Cowboys will then visit the Bengals (2-6-1), host the 49ers (4-6) and Eagles (3-5-1), and close their season on the road against the Giants (3-7).
The Dallas Cowboys might actually have the advantage in the NFC East
Even with a 2-7 record and their two toughest remaining games coming up, the Dallas Cowboys still might actually have an advantage in the NFC East given the schedules of the other three teams in the division.
As mentioned, the division-leading Eagles have the fifth-toughest remaining schedule in the NFL as the combined winning percentage of their remaining opponents is .569. Philadelphia still has matchups left with the Seahawks, Packers, Saints, Cardinals, and Browns, all of whom are in the playoff hunt. The Eagles’ only remaining games against teams under .500 are with the Cowboys and Washington.
As for the Giants, they have the seventh-toughest remaining schedule as the combined winning percentage of their opponents is .527. New York has matchups with the Seahawks, Ravens, Browns, and Cardinals on the .500 or better side of things and games with the Cowboys and Bengals on the sub-.500 end.
Washington has it a little easier as their opponents have a combined winning percentage of .470. The Football Team has two games with teams above .500, the Steelers and Seahawks, and five games against sub-.500 teams with matchups against the Cowboys, Bengals, Panthers, Eagles, and 49ers.
So the Dallas Cowboys aren’t out of the playoff hunt by any means. If they can somehow get past the Vikings on Sunday and then knock off Washington on Thanksgiving, they would be in a great position to still win the division, especially given everyone else’s schedules. They would still need to win another game or two, which obviously hasn’t been easy, even against the bad teams, but the Cowboys making the playoffs isn’t as far-fetched as it sounds.
Records courtesy of NFL.com