Cowboys are now Packers' biggest threat in pursuit of No. 1 seed

One loss by Dallas would give Green Bay leeway

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QB Aaron Rodgers

GREEN BAY – Last week, the Packers' advantageous position in the NFC playoff race gained some steam.

With losses by the Cardinals and Buccaneers, Green Bay is now the only team in the conference (and the league) with an 11-3 record heading into Week 16.

Behind the NFC North champion Packers is a four-way tie for the second-best record at 10-4 amongst Dallas, Tampa Bay, Arizona and the L.A. Rams.

That has shifted the landscape a bit as the Packers continue their pursuit of the No. 1 seed, plus the bye and home field that come with it.

Namely, the Cowboys are now the team that's the biggest threat to the Packers for the top spot. Because Dallas has the best conference record (8-1) of all the NFC contenders, the Cowboys would earn the No. 1 seed if they can tie the Packers in these final three weeks for the best record.

What hasn't changed is the Packers are still in command, meaning if Green Bay wins out, it'll get the No. 1 seed.

But what's really intriguing right now is if the Cowboys were to lose one more game, the Packers would actually have the leeway to drop one and still hang onto the top spot, because Green Bay has the tiebreaker against the other three 10-4 teams.

With that in mind, the most important "other" game as it relates to the Packers this week is the Sunday Night Football matchup with Washington (6-8) visiting Dallas. WFT just took a damaging loss on Tuesday night in Philadelphia, hurting its playoff hopes, but Washington isn't out of it yet.

So root for the WFT to beat the Cowboys and give the Packers some added cushion.

Beyond that, the rest of the games involving the 10-4 clubs – Indianapolis (8-6) at Arizona, Tampa Bay at Carolina (5-9), and L.A. Rams at Minnesota (7-7) – are all about potentially providing the Packers an even bigger hedge during the stretch run.

So on Christmas night after the Packers-Browns game, cheer for the Colts to defeat the Cardinals. Then on Sunday afternoon, pull for the Panthers to upset the Buccaneers, and for the Vikings to knock off the Rams.

The only caveat would be if Packers fans would rather not see their NFC North rivals make the playoffs as a wild card. If that's the case, and it's totally understandable, permission granted to root against Minnesota.

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