By Shawn Lealos

One month ago, the Dallas Cowboys looked like a lock for the 2014 NFL playoffs. Not only were they on pace to make the playoffs, but they were seen as a high seed with a first round bye. Thanks to two NFC East losses to the Washington Redskins and Philadelphia Eagles, the Cowboys might need to squeak in as a wild card team and that is even questionable as they are competing with at least four teams for the final wild card spot.

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That makes every game a must win and Dallas Cowboys’ Hall of Famer Michael Irvin told the Dallas Morning News on Monday that this week’s game with the Chicago Beats is a must-win if they want to make the postseason. Dallas has the tiebreaker over the Seattle Seahawks, but things get more difficult with the Detroit Lions, who they didn’t play this year.

If Dallas loses and the San Francisco 49ers climb back into contention, that shakes things up because the 49ers have the tiebreaker over Dallas. That means that Dallas has to consider their NFC overall win-loss record for a multiple-tie breaker and their losses this season have all come against NFC teams, with the Arizona Cardinals as the fourth loss.

Irvin said that he is now nervous about the Cowboys chances of making the playoffs at all after their loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. He said that it is scary because Dallas played the Eagles again in two weeks and he underestimated how good they were. He said that the worst Dallas can do to make the playoffs is finish the season with a 3-1 record. He said, because of how good the Eagles are, that makes the Bears game a must win.

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Right now, Dallas has two chances to make a wild card spot if they can’t catch the Eagles in the NFC East. This is a similar situation to the last three years, despite the fact that Dallas has matched the wins of each of those seasons. It is hard to fathom, but Dallas could end up the season with 11 wins and still miss the playoffs. Even if Dallas wins out, and finishes with 12 wins, there is still only two wild card spots and three teams could match that total.

At the moment, Dallas is 5-4 against the NFC while the Lions and Seahawks are 6-2. Dallas fans need to cheer against the Lions, because a tie with the Seahawks will not take into consideration the NFC record since Dallas beat them. However, if the 49ers win out and Dallas loses one more game, they are in trouble. Of course, all this could be nil if the Cowboys beat the Eagles in two weeks and Philadelphia falls to either the Redskins or Giants.

Needless to say, the amazing resurgence of the Dallas Cowboys in 2014 has suddenly hit a snag and this team will have to play better in December than they have in the past few years. If the Cowboys stumble to end the season, they could end up a disappointment once again. This all starts on Tuesday night against the Chicago Bears, a must-win if they want to make the playoffs.

For more Cowboys news and updates, visit Cowboys Central.

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Shawn S. Lealos is a freelance writer who graduated from the University of Oklahoma in 2000 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism. He writes for a variety of national publications and has over 15 years of sports journalism experience. Follow Shawn on Twitter @sslealos. Examiner.com.