Bravo, Cowboys, bravo. Sunday night’s win at Philadelphia was huge on so many levels, it isn’t funny.
That’s the good news. Enjoy the win, but understand this – bigger games loom. Much bigger.
That’s the “bad news.” The Cowboys can’t let up.
The fact is, as we pointed out last week, there is a very good chance that a team with 11 wins this season will not make the playoffs in the NFC. And the Cowboys can’t slip up at home next week against a very good Indianapolis Colts team or they fall into the danger zone.
The easiest path for Dallas to make the playoffs is to simply win out. They currently hold a one-game lead over the Eagles in the NFC East, and they need to keep it that way if they want to win the division. Yes, I know that was a “Capt. Obvious” type of statement, but the reason I mention it is because Philadelphia owns the tie-breaker over Dallas if they end up with the same number of wins. And every team seems to have a better conference record than the Cowboys in a wild card situation and that spells doom.
It’s NFC East or bust.
Philly plays the Redskins and the Giants, so the chances of them suffering another loss is not good. Dallas plays those pesky Colts at home and then are on the road to close out the season at Washington (who have already beaten the Cowboys this season).
So, there is a very good chance that the Cowboys may have to win their final game of the season to make the playoffs. If that comes to fruition, I believe they will defeat the Redskins.
It’s the Colts that concern me.
One – it’s the Colts, who have the great Andrew Luck and are also 10-4. They’ve won their last four games, the last on Sunday vs. the Texans by a score of 17-10. Two – the game is at AT&T Stadium, where the Cowboys are 3-4 this season. And three… well, it’s December and the Cowboys have to win. That hasn’t been a very good combination over the last few years.
Until this year. Full credit to Dallas for improving to 2-0 thus far in December. I think it’s this simple – win this coming Sunday vs. Indy and I think the Cowboys will be in. Yes, they have to beat Washington on the road, a division foe that knows Dallas very well. But I have faith that the Cowboys will find a way if they can get past the Colts.
Now let’s get greedy. Let’s say they do beat the Colts and Redskins and win the NFC East. There’s a decent chance that Dallas would also get a bye in the first round of the playoffs. Root for those Seahawks to win the NFC West because the Cowboys hold the tiebreaker over them in a head-to-head situation for postseason position.
First thing’s first though. We told you last week that the game at Philly was a playoff game. It was. And just like the playoffs, the Cowboys must win again and again to advance.
That’s what’s funny – we all thought the playoffs started in January. Not this year. I think they actually began in September. Who saw the formula for Dallas to make the playoffs include going undefeated on the road this season while only going .500 at home? Not me.
Don’t look now, but that is exactly what must transpire for the Cowboys to make the playoffs. And the last home game is about 10 times bigger than that road finale. If that makes any sense.