Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in. The 2012 Cowboys are like a bad lover that you just can't quit.
The Dallas Cowboys managed to beat a depleted Philadelphia Eagles team and in the process kept alive their flickering playoff hopes. For one more week, at least, the Cowboys game will have true meaning instead of just playing out the string. And I'll take that, even though I know this unit isn't likely to sniff the playoffs in 2012.
As a fan of the Cowboys, every season has one minimum goal - make the playoffs. Otherwise, what are we playing for? Sure, some years are rebuilding years, but even then, you hope for a miracle season. So every year, as long as the Cowboys are mathematically alive, I'm holding out hope. I'm going to ride this thing until someone puts us out of our 2012 misery.
Realistically, the Cowboys need to win out (there's the first hint that this is almost mission impossible) to make the tournament. Even though Dallas got a few favorable results on Sunday (losses by Tampa Bay and Minnesota), the one they didn't get (a Seattle loss) is the one they really needed. Seattle holds the tie-break and is a game up, meaning Dallas needs a two game swing in the final four weeks. The wild card route got a lot tougher.
In our own division there's a somewhat better opportunity. Tonight's game will decide which path Dallas will need to take. If Washington wins, then the division becomes a battle of three teams, with the Giants holding a one-game advantage. If New York wins, then Dallas has to hope the Giants nosedive over the last four weeks while the Cowboys soar.
After watching the Cowboys almost blow it again last night, it's hard to generate much enthusiasm for the next four games. Philly is a team that is imploding, a team that has been crushed by injury, and yet for much of the game looked like the better team. Not exactly a confidence boost for Dallas. Injuries to the Dallas defense are making a big impact, that once consistent unit is now getting gouged. Guys are giving effort, but they just aren't playing to the level of the injured players they're replacing. It's doubtful it will get much better.
On offense, there is one interesting development. DeMarco Murray proved that a quality running back can make a difference, even behind a poor offensive line. His presence, along with the ascendancy of Dez Bryant into game-changer, makes this Cowboys offense very viable. Tony Romo's ability to extend plays along with a new-found, credible running game, helps to offset a wobbly offensive line. Now if they could just figure out their slow starts...
Sure, the Dallas Cowboys getting into the 2012 playoffs will take a combination of events that no sane person would bet on. But we're not sane, we're Dallas Cowboys fans. As long as the team is in it, you might as well give in and keep a candle lit. Once we're out, it's seven months of the barren wasteland with only a few stops for refreshment along the way.