You have to like the Cowboys players optimism, even if you think it's a little detached from reality. Earlier this year, when the Cowboys were 1-7, you had Roy Williams declaring that Dallas could go 9-7 and still make the playoffs. We scoffed and guffawed at Roy's seemingly crazy prediction. But when the Cowboys won two in a row and moved to 3-7, maybe, just maybe, deep down in our hearts, in a place we didn't want to admit to having...we kind of believed Roy. Well, not believed, but hoped along with Roy that a miracle turnaround was in the works. Then came the loss to New Orleans, which in an unkind coincidence, was somewhat the responsibility of the aforementioned Roy Williams. So much for 9-7.
But, the Cowboys players still haven't given up on goals for this season. We have a new proclamation, not a declarative one like Roy's, but an overly-optimistic goal to shoot for. And this one comes from a player we respect and listen to. Not that we don't respect Roy, but he's said a lot of crazy things since he's been in Dallas. This time, it's a team leader and one of our best players, DeMarcus Ware.
"The thing is, look where we started at," Ware said. "We started the season off really rocky. If we finish 8-8 that means, to us, that we've turned the season around, and we really have something to play for ... it's going to be a lot of hard work. We still have a lot of games - Philly and Washington and Indy coming up this week, but if we can do that, it'll really show the pride of the team."
If this team can finish 8-8, it really does show a lot of pride, hard work and an amazing job by Jason Garrett. Even though it means the Cowboys can't lose another game, it's a worthy goal to shoot for. Ware isn't saying the Cowboys will finish 8-8, but he's putting it out there as a goal.
It got me thinking, looking at the Cowboys remaining schedule, what is their likely final record.
-- This week, the Cowboys take on the Indianapolis Colts, a team that is usually a very tough out, but the Colts are struggling right now. Losers of three of their last four, they've got major injury problems, and Peyton Manning has run into a streak of turning the ball over. I picked Dallas to win this game in the weekly picks, but I think that was more from the heart than the head. If I look at this game realistically, with the Colts being at home and being a better football team for most of the year, then probability says Dallas loses this game.
-- The Cowboys host the Philadelphia Eagles on a Sunday night. Now, realistically, this should go in the Eagles win column. They are playing great football and Michael Vick is as hot as can be. But, Dallas will be at home, it's in prime-time, I'm going to go ahead and give this one to Dallas against all odds.
-- The following week, the Cowboys get a chance at revenge on their hated-rivals, the Washington Redskins. These two teams met in the first game of the season, and it seemed to start the whole first-half collapse Dallas experienced. Remember Roy's game-winning touchdown that was wiped out by an Alex Barron holding penalty? Yup, that seems like an eternity ago. The Cowboys get their revenge.
-- The Cowboys go on the road to face the Arizona Cardinals. We should never think the Cowboys are anything but still a lower-end NFL team. Still, the Cardinals are in disarray and falling apart just as the Cowboys are starting to put it back together. Cowboys win.
-- Dallas finishes up with a road trip to Philly. The Eagles will likely still be jockeying for playoff position and home-field advantage. This is probably more than Dallas can overcome on the road. Eagles take it.
So, my final record prediction? 6-10. Not quite 8-8, but a vast improvement over the 1-7 start and where it looked like this team was headed.
Your final record prediction?