FRISCO, Texas — So how do the Dallas Cowboys make the playoffs?

Every scenario starts with the Cowboys winning their final two games against the Seattle Seahawks and Philadelphia Eagles. The Cowboys’ chances would also greatly benefit from the Detroit Lions losing one of their last two.

Perhaps the Lions’ sad-sack history will come into play with a surprising loss, but the odds might say otherwise. The Lions play at the Cincinnati Bengals this week, and the Bengals have apparently shut it down with three straight losses — getting outscored 67-14 in the last two games. The Green Bay Packers placed quarterback Aaron Rodgers on injured reserve, which makes the Lions’ Week 17 finale at Ford Field a lot more palatable for them.

But what else must happen? If the Cowboys and Lions do their part, the next steps would come from the NFC South — where one of the following would put the Cowboys in.

Falcons lose their last two

The Atlanta Falcons would need to lose to the New Orleans Saints and Carolina Panthers, which is entirely possible. As impressive as the Falcons were against the Cowboys in November, they were unimpressive in their win Monday over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Falcons travel to the Superdome this week, and the Saints have won six straight at home.

Panthers lose their last two

The Panthers lose their final two games to the Buccaneers and Week 17 at Atlanta. Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis will miss Sunday’s game because of a suspension. The turmoil surrounding Carolina owner Jerry Richardson, who has stepped away from the team immediately and put the club up for sale, could benefit the Cowboys’ chances.

Saints lose their last two

The Saints lose their final two games to the Falcons and the Buccaneers. Of the two aforementioned scenarios, this one seems the least likely to happen. Drew Brees‘ experience helps in important games. The Saints’ running game can make an even bigger difference.

Panthers and Saints each lose their last two

There is a scenario in which the Cowboys and Lions each win out and Dallas still makes the playoffs. That would require the Panthers and Saints to each lose their final two games.

Do you like those odds?

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