December 19, 2017 - The Dallas Cowboys have been here many times. With two games remaining in the season, it's either win out or miss the playoffs for Big D. With wins over the Seattle Seahawks and Philadelphia Eagles, they would improve to 10-6 on the season and would still need a number of things to happen for them to clinch that 6th seed in the NFC.

Will returns of Ezekiel Elliot and Sean Lee to lift Cowboys?

Ezekiel Elliot returns in Week 16 against Seattle after serving his six-game suspension. Prior to his suspension, Zeke was the third-leading rusher in the NFL, despite the distractions of his court situation.

This should help reignite that spark in the Dallas offense that had struggled in his absence, with the Cowboys failing to score double-digit points in three straight games during his hiatus. Quarterback Dak Prescott has looked shaky in recent weeks, but having his best friend and star running back in the lineup should help take some of the pressure off.

Sean Lee is unquestionably Dallas' key man on defense with the team going 2-4 without him and giving up almost 30 points per game. When he plays, the Cowboys are 6-2. He transforms a sub-par defense with a very young secondary into one that bends but doesn't break.

Reliance on Detroit and the NFC South

Along with needing to win both of their last two games, the Cowboys need results from other teams to go their way.

The Detroit Lions, also 8-6, would go through to the playoffs ahead of Dallas if both teams were to finish 10-6 because of the way that the Wild Card seeding is decided. The Lions need to drop one of their last two games to either the Bengals or the Brett Hundley-led Packers. This would eliminate them from playoff contention.

The Cowboys also need one of the NFC South's three playoff contenders (Saints, Panthers, and Falcons) to lose both of their last two games, which is very possible, considering that the Falcons have to play both of them, while the Saints and Panthers still play each other one more time. If any of these teams lose both games, the Cowboys would make the playoffs as they would eliminate the Seahawks with a win over them on Christmas Eve.

Unfortunately for Dallas, all three NFC South contenders only need one win to secure all three of their places in the playoffs.

The most likely case is that the Panthers beat the Buccaneers on Christmas Eve to secure their place, leaving the Falcons and Saints as the more viable candidates for the Cowboys to overtake.