Well fans here we are again, it's the end of the year and if the Cowboys of the last two years are any indication I should begin to ready myself for disappointment.
In the last two years we are 4-5 in December with losses to the Eagles in both '07 and '06, the Redskins, New Oreleans and Detroit. The 'Boys inability to finish the season strong has, in my opinion, contributed to the fact that we didn't win either of the playoff games in January.
With a bad Seattle team coming to Texas stadium we should enter December at 8-4 and our playoff destiny completely in our hands. Win in December and we're in. It's really simple, if we can win three out of the four games in December we can assume a playoff berth. Win only two of those games and we'll need some help to get in.
Now what really worries me is that the one year we need to win in December is the one year that we have the most difficult games. The fact that the easiest game might be when we travel to Philadelphia our last game speaks to the uphill battle these Dallas Cowboys face.
The combined record of Dallas's December opponents is a daunting 30-13-1.
Dec 07 - Dal @ Pit
The Cowboys will have 10 days to prepare for the Steelers after the Thanksgiving game against Seattle. The Giants proved that if you can pressure Big Ben you can win at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh. Offensively I think we can score enough points to win, but winning time of possession and the turnover battle are a must. The defense will have to continue it's upswing of recent weeks to give the 'Boys a chance.
Dec 14 - NYG @ Dal
This game looms large at this point. The Giants will have probably locked up the NFC East title by this point and are arguably playing the best football in the NFL right now. A loss here doesn't necessarily end the Cowboys playoff hopes (especially if they beat the Steelers), but a win would be a huge confidence booster that could propel the 'Boys into the playoffs. Don't think the Giants will lay down, this has become a heated rivalry in recent years and you know the Giants would love nothing more than to win their last visit to Texas Stadium. This is a Marion Barber game, if he can be effective running the ball and wear down the ferocious Giants pass rush, Romo and Co. could be able to make enough plays to win this game.
Dec 20 - Bal @ Dal
The road doesn't get any easier for Dallas as they once again face a top defense in December. If they win the first two games then they should be able to handle the Ravens at home. If they lose or split the two games this becomes a must win game. The Ravens defense is still one of the best led by Ray Lewis and Ed Reed. Ed Reed vs Tony Romo will be the matchup to watch. If the ball hawking safety can intercept Romo a few times the Cowboys chances of winning become slim. If, however Romo can protect the ball I don't think the Raven will be able to outscore the Cowboys. At this point in the season the Romo to Roy Williams connection should be making plays on a consistent basis. The Cowboys should be fired up for the last game at Texas Stadium.
Dec 28 - Dal @ Phi
Everybody remembers the first time these two teams hooked up this year. However, neither the Eagles or Cowboys are playing the same caliber of ball at this point. If the Cowboys can buck recent history and win key games in December, going into Philadelphia and winning shouldn't be a problem. We could be going against a team playing for nothing but pride and led by QB Kevin Kolb. The ideal situation would be to take care of business against the three previous teams to make the Eagle game inconsequential. If however, we need to win the Eagles game to get into the playoffs, do you really trust this team to win against a desperate division rival?
The last two weeks have given me some cautious optimism concerning this year's December schedule. After two years of relatively good health we are now experiencing a rash of injuries which has been one of the main reasons for a record that does not live up to the pre-season expectations. This will be the first time in the last two years we HAVE to win in December just to make it into the playoffs. I hope this team finally beginning to understand how to win the tough games, despite the injuries, despite the distractions.
Will this be the year we buck the recent trend of down and out December's? My hear says yes... but my head and the schedule says no. I don't think a 10-6 record gets the Cowboys into the playoffs (the loss to the Rams really hurts us for tiebreaker purposes). But I'm going to go ahead and go out on a limb and trust my heart on this one. The 'Boys get it done and beat the Giants, Ravens and Eagles and make it to the playoffs. Now what will they do once they get there? That's a post for a different day.