The Cowboys welcomed star running back Ezekiel Elliott back to the team facility Monday, which is the players’ off day. He will rejoin his teammates Tuesday. The team has not made an announcement about a roster move, but the Cowboys have waived running back Trey Williams to make room for Elliott’s return. Williams, 25, entered the league as an undrafted free agent out of Texas A&M in 2015. He signed with Washington and also has spent time with the Patriots, Dolphins, Colts and Steelers. He joined the Cowboys’ practice squad in November before the team promoted him to the active roster when Elliott began serving his suspension. Williams appeared in two games with the Colts in 2015, rushing for 12 yards on two carries.This season is different for the Cowboys, who currently sitting at 8-6 and are trying to climb back into the playoff picture. What exactly needs to happen for the Cowboys to make the playoffs? The next two games for the Cowboys are: Week 16 against Seattle Seahawks and Week 17 against the Philadelphia Eagles. Below is the current playoff picture with postseason percentages, starting with the wild card teams and the ideal outcomes: Carolina Panthers (10-4): Wild Card, 98% chance to make the playoffs
REMAINING OPPONENTS: vs. Buccaneers (4-9), at Falcons (8-5)
The Panthers beat the Packers, which knocks the Packers behind the Cowboys in the playoff standings. The Cowboys need the Panthers to beat the Falcons since the Falcons own the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Cowboys this season.
Atlanta Falcons (8-5) – Wild Card, 61% chance to make the playoffs
REMAINING OPPONENTS: at Buccaneers (4-9), at Saints (10-4), vs. Panthers (10-4)
The Falcons need to have fewer wins than the Cowboys since they beat the Cowboys and own the tiebreaker, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Falcons lose two out of the next three games. They play the Buccaneers on Monday Night Football, so all Cowboys fans should be cheering for the Bucs tonight.
Detroit Lions (8-6) – 26% chance to make the playoffs
REMAINING OPPONENTS: at Bengals (5-9), vs. Packers (7-7)
The Lions are above the Cowboys in terms of playoff tiebreakers, so the Lions need to lose at least one game.
Seattle Seahawks (8-6): 13% chance to make the playoffs
REMAINING OPPONENTS: at Cowboys (8-6), vs. Cardinals (6-8)
The Seahawks have lost two games in a row and have the same record as the Cowboys entering their Week 16 matchup. If the Cowboys beat the Seahawks this week, they would own the tiebreaker and move up the playoff rankings.
Dallas Cowboys (8-6) – 5% chance to make the playoffs
REMAINING OPPONENTS: vs. Seahawks (8-6), at Eagles (12-2)
The chances aren’t high for the Cowboys, but if they are able to win out, they give themselves a real shot. Even though the schedule is difficult, they get Ezekiel ElliottBACK this week. This matchup against the Seahawks is essentially a playoff elimination game with both teams sitting at 8-6. If all other scenarios above go perfectly, the Cowboys will make the playoffs.
Patrick Murray‘s 54-yard field goal try sailed wide right as time expired as the Atlanta Falcons held on for a 24-21 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Monday night. A sack of Matt Ryan by Buccaneers defensive tackle Clinton McDonald enabled Tampa Bay to get the ball back with one minute remaining. Jameis Winston completed three passes to move the Buccaneers into range for a tying field goal try only to have the attempt just slice outside the right upright. Devonta Freeman rushed for 126 yards and a touchdown and converted a pivotal third down on Atlanta’s final possession. He also led the team in receiving with five catches for 68 yards. Freeman’s big night was part of 201 rushing yards racked up by the Atlanta offense against a Buccaneers defense that lost several players to injury throughout the night. Ten Buccaneers in total were announced with injuries at some point during the night. Matt Ryan added a touchdown pass to Justin Hardy and threw for 212 yards on the night as the Falcons did just enough to hold off the Buccaneers. Jameis Winston completed 24 of 30 passes for 264 yards and three touchdowns in one of best performances of the season and in his career. Winston’s 130.5 passer rating is the second best of his career, trailing only a 131.6 performance against Philadelphia in 2015. Hardy’s 6-yard touchdown from Ryan capped a nine-play, 62-yard drive to give Atlanta a 7-0 lead. Tampa Bay responded with a 75-yard drive with tight end O.J. Howard hauling in a 30-yard touchdown pass from Winston. Levine Toilolo recovered a Freeman fumble in the end zone for a touchdown and Matt Bryant added a 57-yard field goal to take a 17-7 lead into halftime. Mike Evans caught a 42-yard touchdown pass from Winston and William Gholston blocked a 33-yard field goal try from Bryant to keep Tampa Bay within three. However, Freeman broke off a 32-yard touchdown midway through the fourth quarter to grab a 24-14 lead. Adam Humphries caught a 16-yard touchdown from Winston with 4:07 remaining and the Buccaneers defense did enough to get their offense one more shot before Murray’s kick sailed wide.
The Steelers hoped to have cornerback Joe Hadenback in the lineup against the Patriots. It didn’t happen. Haden, though, will return this week against Houston, barring a setback. The eight-year veteran has not played since Week 10 when he fractured a fibula in a game against the Colts. With Coty Sensabaugh slowed by a shoulder injury, third-round pick Cameron Sutton made his first career start Sunday. Sutton played 57 of 60 snaps against the Patriots and made three tackles. In nine starts this season, Haden has 16 tackles, five pass breakups and an interception.
With Panthers owner Jerry Richardson deciding to sell the team, the ultimate question becomes what will he get for it? Richardson owns 48% of the team, and his ownership group paid $206 million in expansion fees in 1993 for the team that officially joined the league in 1995. It’s not entirely clear whether Richardson will be selling only his stake in the team, or whether he has the right under the relevant agreements to put the full 100 percent of the equity up for sale. Regardless, the perceived value of the full franchise will determine what Richardson gets for his 48 percent. So what will be the value of the full franchise? Terry and Kim Pegula paid $1.4 billion for the Bills in 2014. Forbes has valued the Panthers at $2.3 billion, but without full access to information that is not publicly available, Forbes can’t properly and accurately generate a valuation of the Panthers or any team. Richardson will get in the range of $2.5 billion. Obviously, he won’t get that, because he doesn’t own 100 percent of the team; at 48 percent, a $2.5 billion valuation would put his take at exactly $1.2 billion. Richardson isn’t exactly operating from a position of strength, because he won’t have the “screw it I won’t sell it at all” leverage that comes from having the ability to keep the asset. Basically, he’ll be looking for bids, he’ll hope that there will be plenty of them, and he’ll pick the best one.