Cowboys' playoff picture is cloudy

ARLINGTON, Texas – The Dallas Cowboys find themselves outside of the playoff picture with four games to play.

“We’ve still got a lot of good football left,” tight end Jason Witten said after Thursday’s loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.

They better hope they do.

Winning their final four games would not guarantee the Cowboys a playoff spot. Two other 8-4 teams, the Seattle Seahawks -- who the Cowboys beat earlier this season -- and Detroit Lions, own the two wild-card spots.


Seattle wins the tiebreaker over Detroit because of a better win percentage in common games. They Lions win the tiebreaker over the Cowboys based on a better conference record. Head-to-head is not part of breaking a three-way tie.

Even if the Cowboys win out, they are not guaranteed to win the division. The Eagles would still win the division if they won three of their final four because of a better division record than the Cowboys.

Besides winning, the best hope for the Cowboys is to have the Arizona Cardinals keep winning so they would lock down the NFC West, which would give Seattle another loss. The Seahawks’ final four foes are a combined 29-17 and they play at Philadelphia, where the Eagles are unbeaten, on Dec. 7. The Cowboys should hope the Eagles beat the Seahawks and then lose the rematch with Dallas on Dec. 14 plus one of their final two games against the Washington Redskins or New York Giants.

The Lions’ final four foes are a combined 20-26 but they close the year at Lambeau Field against the Green Bay Packers. Their other three games come against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-9), Minnesota Vikings (4-7) and Chicago Bears (5-7).

The Cowboys’ final four foes are a combined 24-22. They play the Bears next Thursday at Soldier Field, where they were thrashed 45-28 a year ago. After the Eagles rematch, the last two games of the season are against the Indianapolis Colts (at AT&T Stadium) and at Washington.

The Cowboys have lost three in a row at home and have lost three straight Week 17 games.