Here's what the Cowboys need to make the playoffs

Dale Hansen weighs in on the return of Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott.

The Dallas Cowboys got some help Sunday in their longshot pursuit of a playoff berth.

The Atlanta Falcons and Detroit Lions each lost -- both of which needed to happen for Dallas to make the postseason. Still, the Cowboys' odds of making the playoffs hovered around nine percent during their game against the Seahawks Sunday afternoon, according to The Upshot’s playoff predictor.

While the Falcons and Lions helped the Cowboys' cause, the Panthers and Saints each logged wins, making the Cowboys' path to the playoffs pretty simple: Win out, and root for the Panthers in Week 17.

The No. 1 thing Cowboys fans still need to root for is for them to win their final two games. Wins over the Seahawks and Eagles in Weeks 16 and 17 would put them at 10-6.

If that happens, and the Falcons lose to the Panthers in Week 17, Dallas finishes a game better than Atlanta and earns the second Wild Card spot.

The 9-6 Falcons have the head-to-head tiebreaker over Dallas, so they need to finish with a worse record than the Cowboys for Dallas to punch its playoff ticket.

Detroit owns a tiebreaker over Dallas due to their win percentage over common opponents, necessitating a Lions loss for the Cowboys to leapfrog them in the standings.

Current NFC playoff seeds:

1. Philadelphia Eagles, 12-2 (clinched first-round bye)

2. Minnesota Vikings, 12-3 (clinched NFC North)

3. Los Angeles Rams, 11-4

4. New Orleans Saints, 11-4

5. Carolina Panthers, 11-4

6. Atlanta Falcons, 9-6

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7. Detroit Lions, 8-7

8. Seattle Seahawks, 8-6

9. Dallas Cowboys, 8-6

10. Green Bay Packers, 7-7

LINK: NFL Standings

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