The 2015 NFL season got underway last weekend and after the opening week the Dallas Cowboys find themselves in exactly the same position that they finished the 2014 campaign; in sole possession of first place in the NFC East. Dallas cannot rest on their laurels. One miscue and things can turn on a dime, especially with the injuries that the Cowboys sustained in the opener. This will be another season where the Cowboys will have to stack one good outing on top of another to retain the division crown.
Let's take a look at the three teams the Cowboys will have to out perform to secure a second consecutive playoff berth.
New York Giants 26
Dallas Cowboys 27
Next: Atlanta Falcons
- Not that anyone in this forum missed the last second dramatics that sent the Giants home to the Big Apple with their first defeat, but in case you did, the Giants managed to hand a sure victory back to the Cowboys. Tony Romo may have done Romo things to guide Dallas to a last minute win, but it was New York that gave him the opportunity. Head coach Tom Coughlin took the responsibility for the blunders that left Romo with the chance for more heroics.
"We could have run the ball, the clock would have run, run, run, take a timeout, kick a field goal. So, that was a bad decision, nobody to blame but me. The game should have been handled in a different way there at the end. In all of those situations, I am very, very reluctant to do anything but score. Sometimes people go out of the way; I am very reluctant to do anything but score. Obviously a touchdown puts you back up 10." - Tom Coughlin
- One Giants player who was not at the game due to his own blunder, Jason Pierre-Paul, continues to be a source of speculation. Some are starting to wonder if the pass rusher will ever return to the team. JPP underwent a series of procedures following a fireworks accident on July 4th and it now appears that he is looking at a return near the halfway point of the season. There are also rumors that if he is not healed to the satisfaction of the team, the Giants will rescind the nearly $15 million franchise tender. That would essentially mark the end of his time in New York and depending on the condition of his hand, possibly the end of his career.
- In other injury news, football related this time, Victor Cruz continues to be unable to practice for the Giants. Cruz will likely find himself unable to dance for at least two more games. In addition to the contest with the Falcons, New York also has a division matchup with Washington the following Thursday. The likely earliest return date for the noted salsa dancing receiver would be the week 4 contest against Buffalo.
Miami Dolphins 17
Washington Redskins 10
Next: St. Louis Rams
- In the NFL most quarterbacks drive to work in something nice, you know something that reflects their status in the league. That poses the question "What does it say about your team when your QB drives his grandmother's 15 year old conversion van?" In fairness to Kirk Cousins, he bought the van for sentimental reason, but it could easily serve as a metaphor for the Redskins prospects.
- One of Cousins receivers, DeSean Jackson, suffered the dreaded hamstring injury early in the game against Miami and now could be out of action for 3-4 weeks. Jackson had already missed most of the preseason work with a sprain in the right shoulder. He feels that his lack of work is what led to the hamstring problem. Jackson lasted only two series for the Redskins.
- The beleaguered Washington secondary is dealing with a pair of blows that could result in missed time on Sunday. Jaw-running corner DeAngelo Hall suffered what is being referred to as sore ribs. Jay Gruden declined to speculate on his availability against St. Louis, Fellow corner Justin Rogers is dealing with plantar fasciitis. To fill the gap Washington has signed Will Blackmon to a contract.
Philadelphia Eagles 24
Altanta Falcons 26
Next: Dallas Cowboys
- A lot of fans have been anticipating the matchup of the Dallas Cowboys against DeMarco Murray. That does not include the former Dallas running back. For him it is simply business going against the team that declined to retain his services. He has other things to worry about, like gaining nine yards on eight carries against the Falcons during his Eagles debut. It was a slow night despite his two scores.
"This is just another opponent. I'm not looking at the guys or the coaches. This is another opponent that we're facing. It's a huge challenge. I'm excited for the opportunity to go out there and play in front of our fans."
- The other off season Chip Kelly acquisition, Sam Bradford, also saw a slow start in his debut with Philadelphia. Bradford had issues dealing with the Falcons pass rush in the first half and he resembled the same passer who struggled in St. Louis. Things changed in the second half and the Falcons failed to keep Bradford under duress. Then he looked like he was throwing the ball in practice. It seems that if teams can get in Bradford's face it will be a long year for the smoothie king.
- On defense, the Eagles were looking to make over a unit that struggled last year, especially in the secondary. The results from the first game showed there's plenty of work still to be done. The Falcons offense thrived in that game.
[The Eagles] allowed Julio Jones and Roddy White to combine for 13 catches, 225 yards and two touchdowns. They allowed six plays of 20 yards or more, including an inexcusable 20-yard run by Tevin Coleman on third-and-15 from the Falcons' 7-yard-line late in the third quarter that turned an opportunity for excellent field possession into a new set of downs on a drive that ultimately resulted in a pivotal field goal. They took an entire half to adjust to the Falcons' two tight end offense that often left six or seven blockers smothering a three- or four-man pass rush, thus enabling Matt Ryan to stand tall and wait for Jones and White to work free.