Can The Dallas Cowboys Overcome Themselves To Earn A Playoff Spot?

All things seem to be well in Cowboy-land after their 38-23 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles last Sunday.  The Cowboys are once again media darlings, and Tony Romo is an All-Pro Quarterback again.  The victory over the Eagles puts the Cowboys at 4-5, and they would miss the playoffs if they were to start today.  Realistically, there are only four teams in the NFC that we can rule out of the playoff picture:  Philadelphia (3-6), Washington (3-6), Carolina (2-7), and St. Louis (3-5-1).  For the record, I understand that none of these teams are actually mathematically eliminated from the playoffs, but it would take more planets aligning than there are in the solar system for those teams making a playoff appearance to actually happen, so lets focus on the likely scenarios.

There are twelve teams in the NFC fighting for six playoff spots.  If you take out the four division winners, that means two spots for eight teams.  Their records range from 6-3 to 4-5, only a two game difference with seven games to go.  Coming back from a two-game deficit with seven to go is not completely unheard of, but it is rather optimistic.

Looking at the Cowboys’ and Giants’ remaining schedule, it would appear that the Cowboys are poised to make a run at the playoffs, and the Giants could be limping around at 8-8 or 9-7 by the end of the year.

Dallas’ remaining schedule:

  • vs. Cleveland
  • vs. Washington
  • vs. Philadelphia
  • @ Cincinnati
  • vs. Pittsburgh
  • vs. New Orleans
  • @ Washington

New York’s remaining schedule:

  • Bye
  • vs. Green Bay
  • @ Washington
  • vs. New Orleans
  • @ Atlanta
  • @ Baltimore
  • vs. Philadelphia

It would appear that Dallas only has to play two possible playoff teams (Pittsburgh and New Orleans), and both of those are at home.  Whereas, the Giants have to play four possible playoff teams (Green Bay, New Orleans, Atlanta, and Baltimore), and two of those are on the road.

What occurs to me though, is that Dallas has never proven themselves to be mentally tough or disciplined enough of a team to where they can put that kind of run together, where the Giants have.  The only thing that is consistent about the Cowboys since 1995 is inconsistency.  They have a .500 record in their last two hundred games.  Tony Romo follows up brilliant performances with 4-interception debacles.  They continue to make miserable personnel decisions year after year.  They constantly under-preform when they need a victory.  They do pretty well at the big things, but never seem to be able to do the little things that are needed to win.

Three of their four wins this year are against bad teams that aren’t doing a whole lot with their seasons (Tampa Bay, Carolina, and Philadelphia).  Their five losses on the other hand, are all against teams who are probably going to the playoffs (New York Giants, Chicago, Seattle, Baltimore, and Atlanta).  The only good team the Cowboys have beaten this year is the Giants, all the way back in Week One, and a lot has happened since then.  I just can’t buy into the argument that this undisciplined team can win six of their last seven, even if it is against mediocre competition, to make the playoffs, and then make a run to the Super Bowl.  Their history says that is not going to happen.

What I don’t understand here is why the media and the countries’ opinion of them swings 180 degrees as soon as they win a game.  This week, it has been all sunshine and Teddy Bears as far as the Cowboys are concerned.  Everybody seems to ignore that the Cowboys beat a pretty bad team (the Eagles) that has been in disarray all season, and was without their starting quarterback for the majority of the game.  The final margin may have been fifteen points, but it was only eight points with the Eagles in possession inside the two-minute warning.  In my opinion, the only convincing thing about their 38-23 victory was that the Cowboys didn’t turn the ball over the entire game.

I just don’t see what single factor is going to stop this team from missing tackles and blocks, dropping balls, making bad decisions, jumping offsides, and shooting their mouths off to the media.  Discipline is not something that happens spontaneously.  It has to be obtained through constant repetition, and by buying into it.

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I do appreciate other viewpoints, so please comment

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