The Cowboys stand at a very disappointing 5-6 record, 2 games behind the division leading Giants at 7-4. It seems lost, but I've said it before and I'll say it again: the season is not dead just yet. Last week, I predicted that the Cowboys would still win the division, starting with a win over Washington as the Giants lost 3 days later to the Packers. Well, both of those predictions came out wrong, as Dallas completely lost control of a winnable game and the Giants played better than an injury ridden Green Bay team. With only five games remaining and a ridiculously large list of injuries (especially to key players) most people have written off the Cowboys. However, there is still hope. Although it will require a few upsets and several things to fall into Dallas' favor, it can still happen. After all, the NFL is a league where there is never a clear winner. It's all about the unexpected, and the Cowboys are unexpected to make the playoffs. But they aren't done just yet, and if the stars align right (both on the field and the metaphorical ones) then the Cowboys still have some fight left. This is how and why the Cowboys still have a pulse:
Murray has been out for 6 games, and the offense has not looked pretty without him. Granted he didn't look impressive in his first five games either due to a translucent offensive line, Murray is leaps and bounds better than Felix Jones. I support the Cowboys players all the time and keep faith in them longer than most others, but in this one, I have to say Jones days as a good back are over. He has completely lost his ability, and the offense needs a running game to function correctly. With Murray and Costa back, some pressure can be taken off of Romo, and he won't have to throw the ball 250 times a game. The offense will have much more balance, something Dallas has not had for a while and will desperately need to make a late season run.
Giants vs Redskins in Week 13
This is the first of the upsets I spoke of above. The Giants played very well on Sunday Night against the Packers, and if they continue that performance against the Redskins, it will be very bad for the Cowboys. However, if the Giants lose this, they will fall to 7-5 with Atlanta and Baltimore still coming up. Granted, the Redskins will rise to 6-6 and become a threat to Dallas, it is easier to deal with than having to catch up to an 8-4 Giants. The Redskins are a tough team, and they have the talent to beat NY. Although he made our hearts ache with pain on Thanksgiving, this week we have to root for RG3 and hope that he leads the Redskins to an upset against the Giants.
Cowboys vs Eagles
This is the perfect opportunity for Dallas to once again put themselves back in the middle of the playoff race. This is a likely win, as the Eagles just flat out suck. This will be Dallas' easiest contest of the season, and the Boys' simply have to stay focused. They can't choke and let an opportunity slip. Assuming the Cowboys win here, they will be 6-6, with the Giants facing a tough opponent as well. If NY loses and Dallas wins, Dallas is once again one game behind NY. This is an absolute must win.
Giants vs Saints
The Saints started off bad, but have rebounded very well since. The Giants have a tough run against them, facing the Falcons and Ravens following week 14. I really do think that the Giants defense will be exposed in this game as Drew Brees chews up the secondary. We have to pray for Brees to pull out in this game and win the shootout and push NY down to 7-6.
Cowboys vs Bengals
This will be a very tough contest for Dallas despite the Bengals record, as they have one of the best D-Lines in the league. Of course Dallas has one of the worst offensive lines, so this will be a big problem. However, I do believe that Romo and Dez get the better of the Bengals defensive backfield and the Cowboys corners do enough to slow down the opposing wideouts to out a win.
Giants vs. Falcons
The Cowboys are really lucky that the Giants have a tough schedule ahead of them. Atlanta is a monster of a team, and maybe they don't go far in the playoffs, but Atlanta should be able to beat NY. This is a win Atlanta must have, or else the Giants may finish with a better record than Dallas which can be very detrimental to Cowboys. Even though the Falcons beat Dallas and made the postseason much more difficult, we must hope that they win against the Giants.
Cowboys vs Steelers
The Cowboys will another very tough team when they host Pitt. The crowd needs to be in this game. Dallas cannot afford to choke at this point. With just 3 games left, Dallas is very close to saving the season. We have to win 2 of the last 3 games to make anything happen out of this season. I'm not sure if we win this one, but if we know one thing, it's that the Cowboys can beat any team, they just have to play consistent.
Giants vs Ravens
The Giants will face yet again another tough team on the road. This looks very appetizing for Cowboys fans, as it seems that Ray Lewis will be back to play in this one, after being reported as done for the season. As old as he is, Lewis lives to fight a couple more glorious battles in his illustrious career, and Dallas hopes he has a great day and makes sure the Giants win. The Cowboys season may just as well hang upon this game.
Cowboys vs Saints
The Saints are the second toughest team in the games left on Dallas' schedule. The pass defense will have to be in top shape to make life much harder for the Saints. Dallas will be playing for the season in this game, and if they lose to the Steelers, this game becomes a must win. It will be up to Carr and Claiborne to win this game for Dallas.
Giants vs Eagles
By Week 17, almost everything will be said and done for the NFC East. Either NY will have had some key losses to help Dallas along on their quest to save this season, or they will have overcome a tough schedule and snuffed the Boys' playoff hopes. Week 17 won't matter, at least not to the Giants. They will have clinched, or will have to see what Dallas vs Washington brings.
Cowboys vs Redskins
The Cowboys may be fighting for playoffs here, unless the Giants ruined any chances. They will have to play measures beyond what they did last time against Washington. Hopefully Miles Austin is part of the game and makes a difference along with Murray as to what this offense can do against the Redskins defense.
Giants vs Redskins: The Giants are on the road here, looking to solidify their playoff hopes. A win will most likely make them too far ahead of Dallas for Dallas to do anything. However, they will have a very tough task ahead of them. The Redskins defense has come around and RG3 is as electric as ever. NY rolled with a close one last time, but at home, I believe Griffin carves the defense enough to get the win. Dallas, Washington, and NY have come even closer together in the NFC East tight race. Washington wins 37-31
Cowboys vs Eagles: The Eagles will be missing Vick once again. Foles will get to play Dallas for the second time, starting in Round 2. The Eagles are done and finishing out the season is a mere formality. Dallas offense struggles a little bit before going off in the second quarter. Foles has a decent day, but Dallas wins in a convincing manner, 27-10.
Week 13 Standings:
Giants 7-5, 2-3
Cowboys 6-6, 3-2
Giants vs Saints: The Giants are once again playing in an attempt to finish the season for Dallas. They will have quite the challenge against the Saints. The Saints started slow, but they have come back and will be vying for postseason themselves.. Brees is a very clutch player, and he leads the Saints offense to a shootout win over NY.Saints win after tons of offense, 38-37.
Cowboys vs Bengals: The Cowboys will have a very tough time in Cinci. The Bengals have started to look really good these past few weeks. They have a good offense and defense, aided by the leagues best D line. While the Cowboys offense looks pretty bad because of the O-Line vs D-Line mismatch, the defense does enough to keep it close. Off of good coverage on Green and pressure on Dalton, the Cowboys force OT 13-13. After exchanging several punts, Harris pulls out a good return and Dallas drives enough to win off of Dan Bailey's field goal. Dallas wins in OT, 16-13.
Week 14 Standings:
Cowboys 7-6, 3-2
Giants 7-6, 2-3
Giants vs Falcons: The Giants are looking rebound here after losing their grip on the NFC East crown. Unfortunately for them, it doesn't happen here as the Falcons offense makes the plays at the end. It is a nailbiter, but the Falcons win 31-27.
Cowboys vs Steelers: The Cowboys will have an opportunity to completely turn the NFC East around with a win against the Steelers. However, I believe the Steelers are the most complete team on the rest of the Cowboys schedule. The Dallas offense will not look good as the Steelers suffocating defense is even better after the return of Polamalu. Meanwhile, Roethlisberger is back to playing and delivers here to beat the Cowboys as the Giants breathe a sigh of relief. Steelers win 28-17.
Week 15 Standings:
Cowboys 7-7, 3-2
Giants 7-7, 2-3
Giants vs Ravens: The Giants will be looking at the Ravens and Eagles to finish the season. They will likely need to win both, as Dallas will be looking at a 7-7 record around this time as well. It will not be easy playing against the Ravens on the road. However, Manning displays his late season clutch factor and manages to force the upset win over Baltimore. The Giants offense and defense both perform admirably and the Giants pull out with a win in their last road game, 26-20.
Cowboys vs Saints: The Cowboys will be fighting an uphill battle against the Saints. The Saints have a prolific offense, but a weak defense. The Cowboys pull one of the why-can't-they-do-this-every-week type of performance, headed by forcing field goals, and snatch a late win 26-22.
Week 16 Standings:
Cowboys 8-7, 3-2
Giants 8-7, 2-3
Giants vs Eagles: The race for the East is as close as it can get. The Giants and Cowboys have the same record, with the advantage of one divisional game keeping Dallas in front. The Giants need to win this game and hope Dallas loses to Washington again in order to make the playoffs. They do their part by absolutely blowing the Eagles out of the water in what could be the last time they play Vick in an Eagles uniform. Giants win 36-10.
Cowboys vs Redskins: The entire fate of Dallas' ridiculous, frustrating, up, down, roller coaster, comeback season will land on this game. If Dallas wins, it's off to the postseason while the Giants get left behind. In this same situation last year, Dallas was unable to win and they missed it They will have the chance to get revenge this time. Last time Dallas played Washington, Dallas was down by alot early, and couldn't finish their comeback. This time...Dallas will perform very ugly. The offense will not be able to move as expected against a beat up and decimated defense. However...Washington will play bad as well. Hinged mostly on Washington's woes here than their own play, Dallas defense keeps the Redskins out of it, and the Cowboys win off a field goal towards the end to win 19-16.
Wrap up: Granted, lots of things must fall into Dallas' favor, but looking above, is it REALLY and unthinkable conclusion? It is definitely possible. I think Dallas really performs well towards the end of the season and Dallas pulls off an unlikely division win.