The Dallas Cowboys find themselves facing the exact same situation that they were confronted with last year. You know, the same one that they faced the season before that one as well. Week 17 rolls around and with it Jason Garrett and his charges once more are facing a "win and they're in" game against the division foe that they are fighting for the NFC East crown.
Did I say the circumstances are the same? Actually the appropriate word should have been similar. In 2011 and 2012 the Cowboys managed to place themselves in a slightly worse state. In each of those years the team had to go one the road and face a division rival in a "play in" game that was contested in front of a hostile crowd. The thing that has changed this time around is that this year's "play in" contest will unfold in front of the Cowboys faithful at AT&T Stadium.
If there is anything that works in Dallas' favor this time around, it is the fact that they are 5-2 at home this season. Although the friendly confines of what was known as Cowboys Stadium prior to this season were anything but friendly to the home team, since the name change the Cowboys have benefited from a reversal of fortune in "Jerry's Palace." Often criticized for a lack of enthusiasm, this season the Dallas fans have stepped up and played are role by creating a hostile environment for the visiting team. On the final Sunday of the regular season, they will once again have an opportunity to play a role in the outcome of the game.
The situation that faces the Dallas Cowboys is far from ideal. At the end of the day they are still a mediocre team that is fighting for its playoff life. While there are plenty of unknowns facing the team, there is one thing that they have shown this season. That is that they are willing to get in there and fight. Will the home field advantage and a fighting spirit be enough? Who knows? I don't know about you, but with the way things have gone recently, my gut says that we are going to see a game that comes down to the final possession of the game. In spite of the public impression of Tony Romo, I certainly hope that he has the ball in his hands.
While there will be much virtual ink spent over the pending showdown, for now I am just going to sit back and savor the fact that for the third straight year the Cowboys enter week 17 playing for something other than just pride. They've gotta pull one of these things out eventually, right? Why not this year?