The National Football League has released the 2012 draft order, with the top 20 picks (non-playoff teams) already set. Picks 21-32 will be determined after the playoffs have concluded.
The Dallas Cowboys are one of seven teams to finish 8-8, and based on a series of tiebreakers, will pick 14th overall (second of the seven .500 teams).
As expected based on their 0-13 start, the Indianapolis Colts have the top overall pick.
Here is the order, 1-20:
1. Indianapolis (2-14)
2. St. Louis (2-14)
3. Minnesota (3-13)
4. Cleveland (4-12)
5. Tampa Bay (4-12)
6. Washington (5-11)
7. Jacksonville (5-11)
8. x-Carolina (6-10)
8. x-Miami (6-10)
10. Buffalo (6-10)
11. x-Kansas City (7-9)
11. x-Seattle (7-9)
13. Arizona (8-8)
14. DALLAS (8-8)
15. Philadelphia (8-8)
16. NY Jets (8-8)
17. Cincinnati (from Oakland) (8-8)
18. San Diego (8-8)
19. Chicago (8-8)
20. Tennessee (9-7)
x-A coin toss will be held at the NFL Scouting Combine to determine the order of these teams.
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Third-place finish means Cowboys get third-place teams in NFC West, North next year
The Cowboys’ 31-14 loss to the New York Giants on Sunday night left them as the third-place finisher in the NFC East. That means the Cowboys will play the third-place teams in the NFC West (Seattle) and NFC North (Chicago) next season, along with their NFC East opponents and the teams in the AFC North.
The Cowboys’ home games will be against the New York Giants, Philadelphia, Washington, New Orleans, Tampa Bay, Pittsburgh and Chicago.
The road games will be at the Giants, Philadelphia, Washington, Atlanta, Carolina, Baltimore, Cincinnati and Seattle.
At the risk of looking infinitely past this week’s showdown for the NFC East championship, Monday night’s Saints-Falcons game did shed more light on a potential first-round matchup for the Cowboys or Giants.
Sunday’s winner at the Meadowlands will earn the No. 4 overall seed and a Wild Card home game against either the Lions (10-5) or Falcons (9-6).
The Lions get the No. 5 seed with a win Sunday over the Packers.
The Falcons get the No. 5 seed with a win Sunday over the struggling Bucs and a Lions loss to the Packers. Both teams would finish 10-6, and the Falcons own the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Lions.
The Cowboys didn’t play the Falcons this year. They blew a double-digit fourth quarter lead to the Lions in October and lost at Cowboys Stadium, 34-30.
Same thing happened against the Giants three weeks ago. Needless to say, the Wild Card round isn’t (and can’t be) on their minds yet.
The playoff picture is starting to come into focus on this happy note: Win and you are in as a division champion.
That’s the easy scenario for the Broncos and either the Cowboys or Giants. And while Baltimore already owns at least a wild-card spot, a victory for the Ravens will earn them the AFC North and a first-round bye.
Denver is tied atop the AFC North with Oakland at 8-7, with the Broncos hosting the Chiefs on Sunday, and the Raiders at home for San Diego. Denver has the tiebreaker, but if it loses and the Raiders win, the Broncos can’t get a wild card. The Raiders can get a wild card if both they and Denver win, as long as Cincinnati and Tennessee lose, or Cincinnati loses and the New York Jets win. Got it?
In first place in the woeful NFC East are the Cowboys and the Giants, who meet at the Meadowlands. A win or a tie will give New York (8-7) the East title; neither team can be a wild card.
ARLINGTON, Texas — The only way the Cowboys reach the postseason is to beat the New York Giants on New Year’s Day at Met Life Stadium. If the Cowboys tie the Giants, they don’t make the postseason.
Whoever wins Cowboys-Giants is the No. 4 seed in the NFC and will host the fifth seed in the wild card round.
Now the No. 4 seed could face either Atlanta or Detroit.
If Atlanta defeats New Orleans Monday night here’s where things get interesting.
In the regular season finale, if Atlanta beats Tampa Bay and Green Bay defeats Detroit, the Falcons become the No. 5 seed.
In another scenario, if Detroit beats Green Bay and Tampa Bay beats Atlanta, the Lions are the No. 5 seed.
Should Detroit and Atlanta win their final regular season games and each finish 11-5, the Falcons win the tie-breaker because Atlanta beat Detroit earlier in the season.
For a comprehensive look at the 2011 NFL Playoffs, check out the new PLAYOFFS page on The Boys Are Back blog … or click HERE.
Keep up with the ever-changing NFL Playoff race right here, on The Boys Are Back blog.
x-clinched playoff berth
y-denotes division winner
z-denotes first-round bye
*-clinched home-field advantage
During the regular season, the seeds reflect how the playoffs would stand if the season ended up to that point. The NFL playoffs are not based on a pure bracket system. In the divisional playoffs, the No. 1 seed is assured of playing the lowest-seeded Wild Card survivor. There are no restrictions on intra-division games and the higher seed of any matchup will have home-field advantage.
• Baltimore is the AFC North leader ahead of Pittsburgh based on head to head (2-0).
• Houston is the No. 1 seed ahead of Baltimore and New England based on conference record (8-2 to the Ravens’ 7-2 and the Patriots’ 7-2).
• Baltimore is the No. 2 seed ahead of New England based on common games (4-0 to the Patriots’ 3-1).
• Denver is the AFC West leader ahead of Oakland based on division record (3-2 to the Raiders’ 2-2).
• Cincinnati finishes ahead of Tennessee based on head to head (1-0).
• San Diego finishes ahead of Buffalo based on conference record (4-5 to the Bills’ 3-5).
• Cleveland finishes ahead of Miami and Jacksonville based on head to head sweep (2-0).
• Miami finishes ahead of Jacksonville based on conference record (3-6 to the Jaguars’ 3-7).
• Atlanta is the No. 5 seed ahead of Detroit based on head to head (1-0).
• Seattle finishes ahead of Arizona based on head to head (1-0).
• Carolina finishes ahead of Tampa Bay based on head to head (1-0).
• Carolina finishes ahead of Washington based on head to head (1-0).
• Washington finishes ahead of Tampa Bay based on conference record (4-5 to the Buccaneers’ 3-6).
• Indianapolis (Week 12), Jacksonville (Week 13), Cleveland (Week 14), Miami (Week 14).
• Minnesota (Week 12), St. Louis (Week 12), Carolina (Week 14), Tampa Bay (Week 14), Washington (Week 14).
NFL Playoff Tracker courtesy: CBS Sports