Playoffs? Are we talking about playoffs? Are you kidding me? Yes! Cowboys Nation is and should be talking about playoffs after snapping an abysmal three-game losing streak against divisional rival Washington with a 38-14 beat down. The Cowboys who are now sitting at 6-6 will preach a Jason Garrett staple “day by day’ approach. However, the fanbase is looking ahead to the possibility of stealing a wildcard birth. Here’s how Dallas can make the most of the next two weeks with a lot of help to increase their chances of making the playoffs.
Ten days of rest separates the Cowboys from their next matchup with the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium. After the benching of Eli Manning, the Cowboys could be seeing a combination of Geno Smith and rookie Davis Webb. Regardless of who is at quarterback, the boo birds will be out for the home team, as it will be Ben McAdoo’s first appearance in front of the home crowd since Manning’s benching. The Cowboys should find a way to win against an offense who is without Odell Beckham Jr. OBJ averages five receptions, one touchdown, and seventy-one yards in six games against the Cowboys. It is worth noting, the Giants defense has had success against the Cowboys offense during their last three matchups, only surrendering one touchdown each game.
I suspect the Giants defense will control the game early on, but the key will be time of possession. Currently, the Giants are 30th in time-of-possession with only 27:48 on average per game, leaving the defense on the field way too long. Controlling the clock will fall on the shoulders of Alfred Morris who will be coming off his best performance as a Cowboy, rushing for 127 yards and one touchdown. Since 2016, when a Cowboys running back rushes for 80 or more yards, the Cowboys are 18-3 with Dak Prescott as the starting quarterback. If Dallas plays true to their identity, a win against the Giants should be realistic, and go a long way to increasing their playoff chances.
The Cowboys NFC East division title hopes are over, as well as controlling their own destiny to a playoff berth. Help is needed to get over the roadblocks on their road to a wild card spot. Currently ahead of the Cowboys at 8-3 sit the Rams, Panthers, and Saints. The Falcons, Seahawks, and Lions follow them at 7-4 and 6-5 respectively.
Over the next two weeks fans need to keep their eyes on these games:
Vikings(9-2) @ Falcons(7-4, current 6th seed)
Lions(6-5) @ Ravens(6-5)
Panthers(8-3 5th seed) @ Saints(8-3 4th seed)
Rams(8-3) @ Cardinals(5-6)
Seahawks(7-4) @ Eagles (10-1)
In a perfect scenario for Dallas, the Vikings, Ravens, Saints, Cardinals, and Eagles(sorry Cowboys fans) need to win this Sunday. I believe every scenario is realistic except the Cardinals beating the Rams. Regardless, this would put the Cowboys only one game back from the 6th seed Falcons at 7-5 with four games left to play. The Lions would also be 6-6, Seattle at 7-5 and the Panthers at 8-4.
Saints(Projected 9-3, 4th seed) @ Falcons(Projected 7-5, 6th seed)
Vikings(Projected 10-2) @ Panthers(Projected 8-4, 5th seed)
Lions(Projected 6-6) @ Buccaneers(Current 4-7)
Seattle(Projected 7-5) @ Jaguars(Current 7-4)
Eagles(10-1 Current) @ Rams(Projected 9-3)
Cowboys(6-6 Current) @ Giants(2-9 Current)
First and foremost the Cowboys need to beat the Giants, a loss would end all hopes. If they take care of business in a divisional game they should win, the help needed would come from a Saints, Vikings, Buccaneers, Jaguars, and Eagles victory. The most important game out of the bunch is the Saints beating the Falcons. I don’t see the Lions losing to the Buccaneers, although Jamies Winston will most likely be back. Jacksonville beating Seattle is also another huge game. If Seattle and the Falcons both lose, this would put the Cowboys only half a game (tiebreaker) back from the 6th seed Falcons, and tied with the Seahawks at 7-6 with three games left to play.
If all of the scenarios listed above play out in the Cowboys favor, momentum would be on their side. They would head into their final game sans Ezekiel Elliott, in Oakland, in a virtual tie for the final wild card spot. A victory there and the now 8-6 Cowboys would get the Seahawks at home, followed by an Eagles team who will be looking to rest its starters.
10-6 might not be enough to get Dallas into the postseason, but if it is, this is a team no one will want to face. Buckle up Cowboys Nation, the next few weeks should be a wild ride.