Playoff implications of the bye week

I hate bye weeks.

Usually, around Saturday night, I start to get a pep in my step. I start to look forward to going to sleep and waking up early Sunday morning. I'm giddy like I just got a brand new fresh pair of Nikes. I imagine driving down to the local bar and watching my 'Boys. I used to look forward to our offense lighting up opposing teams like a pinball machine. But recently, any first downs or points are cause for celebration.

On bye weeks, fantasy football is about the only thing that keeps my interest. But it's nothing like rootin' for the 'Boys.

But this bye week, I've found something that I need to monitor. That would be our playoff status.

We could still get hot and win the division. It's possible, but right now, it doesn't look likely. So I'm basing this analysis on a possible wildcard spot. If we can't win the division, we at least want to host a wildcard game.

The playoffs are not out of the realm of possiblity. If we beat the Redskins, there is a decent chance we could go on a three game winning streak. We play the (2-6) 49ers and the (2-6) Seahawks at home in consecutive weeks. The Seahawks are as injury-plagued as we are, although they might be a little healthier by the time we play. And the 49ers are still recovering from their coach dropping his pants on them (no word on whether he got his eagle on or not). I'm not getting cocky about this either. We can still lose to anybody. Refer to this game to jog your memory.

Despite the fact that we're 5-4, we're still in the thick of things. There are only four teams in the conference with a 6-3 record or better and we play three of them. There are eight teams with a 5-3, 5-4 or 4-4 record.  

The playoffs are a long ways away so I don't want you to put a lot of stock into this analysis. But it's never too early to start planning.

Seeing how playoff standings are based on factors such as overrall record, conference record and head-to-head matchups, I want the 49ers to beat the Cardinals, the Saints to beat the Falcons and the Packers to beat the Vikings. I would rather the Raiders beat the Panthers but I have no faith in Raider Nation to do so.

The Cards have the head-to-head matchup on us due to our loss a few weeks back. Currently they are 5-3 and if we end up in a tie with them for a playoff spot they could edge us out. We need them to lose as many games as possible so we can edge them out with our overall record.

The Falcons are 5-3 and, let's face it, battling with us and other teams like us for a playoff spot. We don't want any team to get too far ahead of the pack. So if the Saints delivered them a little humility and bounced them back to 5-4, I wouldn't mind.

We're up half a game on the Packers. Plus we have the head-to-head matchup on the Packers. So I'm not too worried about Green Bay right now (but I reserve the right to change my mind). The Pack can do us a big favor by knocking the Vikings back to 4-5 while keeping us near the front of the pack for a wildcard spot. 

I guess I should be rooting for the Eagles to beat the Giants, so that they don't leap too far in front of the division. But then again, there's a good argument for rooting for the Giants. If we're focusing on a wildcard spot, an Eagles lost wouldn't be so bad. More importantly, it's just hard to cheer for either one of these teams because I hate both of them like the Lifetime Channel (props to Hank Baskett though). So I'm willing to just sit back and enjoy them beating each other to a pulp. I'd cheer for the refs if that was possible.

 

Last year, we were pretty stout against the run. But this year with been giving it up like Prom Night when it comes to premier running backs. Although we've played well against other teams, we've let Brandon Jacobs, Clinton Portis and Steven Jackson have their way with us.

Calvin Watkins has noticed.

In the last three weeks, the Cowboys have given up 25 first downs on runs; in the previous six games the team allowed 28.

The Cowboys have given up 11 run plays of 10 or more yards in the last three games and three of those have gone for touchdowns. In the previous six games, the Cowboys had given up only 11 runs of 10 or more yards with no touchdowns.

And next week, the Cowboys face the Redskins and running back Clinton Portis, who leads the NFL with 995 rushing yards.

Ok. Now this is the shinola that I really hate. Mac "The Knife" Engel decides to write an article about how the Cowboys can't celebrate until we start winning.

The last person I expected to go Antonio Bryant on the Giants Stadium faux-grass was DeMarcus Ware. But there was the Cowboys’ best defender, celebrating a sack and a forced fumble of Giants quarterback Eli Manning … and the Cowboys only trailed by three touchdowns midway through the third quarter.

This is not an isolated incident, either.

Two weeks earlier, Ware registered a sack of the season near the end of the first half that prompted a small celebration. He must not have noticed the Cowboys trailed the Rams — the Rams, dude — 21-7.

(Before continuing, it should be noted Ware is one of the kinder, more gentle professional athletes I have encountered. He is a pro’s pro.)

The time has come for Ware and this defense to quit celebrating stat-padding numbers such as these. A sack of Manning down 21 points is too late. The same for a sack of Bulger. Plays such as these may look good on season totals and help in contract negotiations, but they are too late in games and they aren’t making a difference when the time for a difference is long gone.

First all, the MVP of our season so far, IMHO, is Ware. So he can celebrate whenever the heckfire he wants to. He's also having what could be a historical season as far as sacks and consideration for Defensive Player of the Year. He does the same thing everytime he gets a sack. The same dance. Everytime. It's not really even a dance. He puts his hands in the air and then slams them down on the ground. Mexico City 1968 this was not.

Secondly, I really don't think journalists have standing to decide when a player gets to celebrate and when he doesn't. I will admit that it's annoying when a player starts to celebrate and you're down 40-0. I wasn't fond of Miles Austin celebrating when we were down in the waning moments of the Redskins game and he scored. But he's been hurt, buried on the depth chart, forgetten about and now he's finally getting his chance to shine. I can't blame him. As long as it doesn't cause a detrimental penalty, I don't care.

I think that's the biggest point. I don't care about this junk. Again, this is a waste of my time. To be fair, there are some good analysis about how our defense has not lived up to expectations. But leave the trivial stuff alone. What is this? Bring it On? You giving points on jazz fingers now? Keep it movin' guys.

RW2 is frustrated. So am I. He wants to contribute more. Me too. C'mon coach, listen to one of us!

Tom Pelissero of the Green Bay Gazzette decides to take a moment out of his busy schedule to trash the 'Boys, a popular sport at the moment. He compares our dysfunction to the Raiders. Seems like apples and oranges to me. We're 5-4 with a chance. They're 2-6 without a prayer. Not to mention, WE WHUPPED THE PACKERS IN THE FROZEN TUNDRA THIS YEAR!!! So we must be doing something right. And the Packers are 4-4 and not exactly burning up the league.

Don't throw stones from glass houses, Mr. Pelissero.

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