Tom Orsborn (I keep wanting to call him Osborne for some reason) says the Cowboys chances of making the playoffs range from slim to none. He thinks we'll end up 9-7. He sees a three-game win streak against the Redskins, 49ers and Seahawks and a 1-3 finish against the Steelers, Giants, Ravens and Eagles.
I'll admit, I've had visions of 9-7 or even 8-8 dancing in my head. But I'm going to assume my role as Chief Optimist-in-Chief (does that even make sense?) Where's my rose-colored glasses and pitcher of Kool-Aid? Here we go!
Due to the ankle-grabbing loss to the Rams, I'm a little leery of "guaranteeing" Cowboy victories against lesser opponents. That being said, I really don't see how we can lose to the 49ers or the Seahawks at home and have anything close to a chance of getting into the playoffs. We need those games and I believe the team will see it as such.
Sunday's game against the Redskins is as close to a season-saving game as any. We absolutely need this game. Am I confident will win it? No. But I am confident in the power of one Antonio Romo. If he's anywhere near 100 percent, we've got a shot. That's all we need.
Also, the Redskins don't necessarilly play that well at home. They're 3-2 with losses to the Rams and the Steelers recently. Secondly, they don't blow teams out. They don't make mistakes, they run the ball, they play good defense and they win close games. So we should be in it the entire game. If we can keep it close, I have confidence in our QB and our kicker.
The Steeler game is going to be rough and I'm assuming we'll lose that one. But then again, Roethlisberger hasn't been playing well and they've got definite problems on the injury-front. The Eagles game will be similiarly difficult. For some reason, I've got good vibes about the Giants home game. The Giants are real full of themselves right now and if we're fighting for a playoff berth and they've already clinched the division or they're close to it, I see a chance to embrass them. Gotta love that. The Ravens have the defense to make our life difficult but we're at home and we've got the offense to spread them out. Also our defense can get enough pressure on Joe Flacco to expose him.
So at the end of the day, I think 9-7 is a realistic projection, but I'm going to go with 10-6, a playoff spot and first-round rematch against the Cardinals. Wins versus the Redkins, Giants, 49ers, Seahawks and Ravens. Losses versus the Eagles and Steelers.
I would watch out for the three-game winning streak though. If the Cowboys beat the Redskins Sunday and then win the next two games, I wouldn't be surprised to see them beat the Steelers. Confidence is really something we've lacked recently and if we find a way to harness it, I don't think Heinz Field is too big of a mountain to climb. As I've said before, I think we'll win at home against the Giants and the Ravens, which leaves us with a six-game winning streak. If that happens, watch out Eagles.
But we'll talk about best-case scenarios another day.
It hurts my heart to say this.
But the Cowboys are an undiscipled team.
We have no shot of making the playoffs if this doesn't change. The numbers bear this out.
Rank: 1st Last year: 8th
The Cowboys have turned into the Oakland Raiders. Entering the weekend, Dallas had the dubious distinction as the most penalized team in the league with 71 (mostly false starts/offside) in nine games. The Cowboys have had eight or more penalties in five games, with 33 on offense, and left tackle Flozell Adams has seven. They are on pace for their most penalties since 1999, when they went 8-8 and had 136 under Chan Gailey. Dallas had eight more penalties than second-place Cleveland.
Lack of takeaways
Rank: 26th in TO margin
Last year: Tied for 8th
It has been an amazing stat all season. The Cowboys have just three interceptions, and the first one didn’t come until the fifth game. Dallas’ lack of game-changing plays on defense is not affording the offense room for error. Four times this season the defense has not produced a turnover in a game. The only team with fewer interceptions is hapless Detroit with two. The Cowboys were tied for second-to-last with Denver and Seattle going into the weekend. Dallas will hope for things to change with Pro Bowl cornerback Terence Newman returning to the lineup at Washington.
We've endured costly mistakes (small note: other sources say we're No. 2 in penalties not No. 1). Twelve men on the field during a crucial defensive stop. Too many offsides penalties. Lots of sacks but not enough turnovers (Greg Ellis has more picks than some of our DBs for Chrissakes!) Inopportune picks by Romo and the dubious duo (Brad and Brooks). Inopportune fumbles by MB3 and T.O.
We can't win if we don't start causing more turnovers while holding onto the ball. We can't win if we don't stop the penalties.
How do you teach discipline? Particularly in the middle of the season? Do you yell more? Do you send players to the locker room and drop you pants like Coach Singletary? Do you encourage them to do the right things? Do you hand out no-penalty pledges?
I'm at a loss. Parcells was a hard @$$ but even his teams had problems with penalties and turnovers. His career as a coach ended on a turnover. Wade is a players-coach and last year it seemed that we turned a corner. But our playoff game ended with a turnover. And this year we've lost plenty of games due to carelessness.
I know we need to stop it. But I have no idea how to do it.
Hopefully, our coaching staff does.
Shout out to gee-roj and his fanpost here.
Check this out though. We've still got seven games. Let's not start writing epitaphs. We've still got a shot.
The Cowboys have seven games. Seven games to prove they are as good as so many people thought they were, including themselves. Seven games to reach a postseason that was once thought to be a given. Seven games to help save a head coach’s job.
"No question this team understands there are important times whether it’s during a football game, during a season, whatever, but as an athlete and a competitor you understand when those times come up, and this is no question one of those times," Romo said. "I don’t think there is a magic potion; I don’t think there is a secret."
Good points about what the team needs to do at the end.
Santana Moss and Clinton Portis. We can't cover or tackle either one. Should be fun Sunday!
What's this? Portis may be out Sunday? Hmmmm.
Shout out to Mullin and his fanpost here.
After some digging, I researched the playoff seeding format, and realized the NFL competition committee tabled this proposal to allow wildcards to host playoff games. I was under the assumption it passed.
I want to encourage people to point out things like this. You guys have actually been doing a good job of this. Please keep it up.
Now my preference is that you don't be an @$$#ole about it. Nonetheless, I still appreciate the feedback regardless of it's tone.