NFL playoff picture 2014: Cowboys clinch NFC East
The Dallas Cowboys won their division for the first time since 2009 on Sunday.
The playoff matchups are almost set as we headed into the second half of the NFL’s Week 16 games. After very entertaining games in the early afternoon (including wins by both Green Bay and Detroit that guaranteed Green Bay a playoff spot and made next week’s Lions-Packers game a de facto title game for the division), Dallas’ matchup against the Colts was the most critical of the late afternoon for playoff purposes.
The Buffalo-Oakland game was still ongoing when the Cowboys game finished. Even with a win over the Raiders, the Buffalo Bills still need to beat the Patriots in Week 17 and they need the Ravens, Bengals and Chargers to all lose (the Bengals have to lose to both the Broncos and Steelers to guarantee a Bills playoff spot).
Dallas rode a 28-0 halftime lead over the AFC South champion Indianapolis Colts to a 42-7 win in AT&T Stadium. Playing against backup quarterback Matt Hasselbeck in the second half, the Cowboys completely overwhelmed the Colts in one of their best games of the season.
The Cowboys won the NFC East, finishing with more than eight wins for the first time since the 2009 season, which was also the last time they won the division. In addition, Dallas’ win eliminates the Philadelphia Eagles from the playoffs.
With the Dallas victory and Philadelphia’s loss to Washington on Saturday, the Seattle Seahawks have clinched a playoff berth even before their Sunday Night Football matchup against the Arizona Cardinals. The Cardinals have already clinched a playoff spot, but would win the NFC West and receive a 1-seed with a win over Seattle.