It would benefit the number one seed in the NFC, the Dallas Cowboys, if the wild card round of the playoffs was to play out like this.
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Aug 19, 2016; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott (21) laughs on the sidelines against the Miami Dolphins at AT&T Stadium. Dallas won 41-14. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
The 13-3 Dallas Cowboys have earned the right to a first round bye and home field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs.
The Cowboys simply need to win two home games in the NFC divisional round and NFC conference championship to make it to the Super Bowl.
So who are the potential teams that the Cowboys may face in the 2016/2017 NFL playoffs?
The Detroit Lions (6th seed), Green Bay Packers (4th seed), and New York Giants (5th seed) are the three teams that could be coming to AT&T Stadium on January 15th for the divisional playoff game. The lowest seed remaining in the playoffs is who Dallas will host.
The Falcons, Seahawks, Packers, or Giants are the four possible teams that the Cowboys could face in the conference championship game.
The six potential opponents in the Super Bowl are the New England Patriots, Kansas City Chiefs, Pittsburgh Steelers, Houston Texans, Oakland Raiders, and Miami Dolphins.
If you were to ask head coach Jason Garrett or anyone affiliated with the Dallas Cowboys, they would tell you that it doesn’t matter who the opponents are.
The Cowboys are focused on the current task at hand, which is preparing for the upcoming game and having the best day as an individual and team that they possibly can.
Aug 19, 2016; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (4) rolls out to pass in the third quarter against Miami Dolphins defensive end Julius Warmsley (73) at AT&T Stadium. Dallas won 41-14. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
Who Dallas plays is out of their control. They don’t care how well a team does or doesn’t match up. When you are the top seed in the NFC, you shouldn’t be worried about that.
As long as the Cowboys execute while minimizing mistakes, they can beat any team put in front of them along the way to winning the franchise’s sixth Super Bowl.
But as fans and writers, it is fun to play out potential scenarios and matchups. After some deliberation and factoring in all potential wild card weekend results, I think I have arrived at the perfect situation for the Dallas Cowboys.
I honestly believe that the Cowboys should be the outright favorite to represent the NFC regardless of who they face, but these results would probably make for the easiest route.
Oakland Raiders at Houston Texans-Raiders win. The Raiders are far from a dangerous threat without their leader and emerging superstar quarterback Derek Carr who suffered a fractured fibula in Week 16. The Texans got into the playoffs due to playing in the worst division in the NFL and I don’t expect the Texans to make a deep run this year, but I don’t want to face the Texans in their home town for the Super Bowl.
Miami Dolphins at Pittsburgh Steelers- Dolphins win. The Dolphins got hot at the right time to earn the right to make the postseason as a wild card team, but I still don’t think they are an elite team. The Steelers on the other hand, definitely pose a threat to the Cowboys. I would almost rather see Pittsburgh win because they pose a bigger threat to the New England Patriots. But for strictly considering the easiest road for the Cowboys to win it all, I would gladly face Matt Moore instead of Ben Roethlisberger.
Dec 26, 2016; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (4) greets Detroit Lions cornerback Alex Carter (33) after the game at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
Detroit Lions at Seattle Seahawks- Lions win. It is extremely unlikely to happen, but this would be the most beneficial game result in wild card weekend for the Cowboys. The Lions would then be flying to Dallas to face the same team that pummeled them by three scores just a couple weeks ago.
New York Giants at Green Bay Packers- Giants win. I know, I am crazy for hoping that a NFC East rival wins a playoff game and stays in the hunt; especially because the Giants have already beaten the Cowboys twice this year. I also know that it is extremely difficult to beat a rival team three times in the same season. Dallas competed in the first two matchups against the Giants and I believe that they can force a few turnovers to come up with a big win in the postseason. The Packers are playing great football right now and I believe they pose the biggest threat to the Cowboys for winning the NFC.
So let’s recap this. This scenario would mean that the divisional round matchups would include the Dolphins at Patriots, Raiders at Chiefs, Giants at Falcons, and Lions at Cowboys.
It is highly unlikely that this happens exactly as I would like, but I think all Dallas fans would agree that eliminating the Seahawks and Packers in the first round would qualify for being a beneficial series of events.