Alas, Dallas is hit with another case of drama in December. The Dallas Cowboys suffered their second defeat of the season with an inept offensive performance in New York on Sunday Night Football. The game was highlighted by multiple lackluster third-down attempts and uncharacteristic turnovers from Dak Prescott. As a result, the media has already begun to question the legitimacy of the Cowboys and their recent eleven-game winning streak. Here are three potential scenarios for the Cowboys moving forward.
The best case scenario is where the Dallas Cowboys respond to the New York loss the same way they responded to it in September: with a long and prolific winning streak. It starts off with a win against the Bucs at home where Dallas has looked excellent this season. The Bucs are no longer a laughingstock and are a team to be reckoned with, especially after beating Seattle a few weeks ago. Following the Bucs game, the Lions come to town bruised but confident behind a surging Matthew Stafford and a surprising series of comeback wins this season. The Lions pose challenges to Dallas in many of the same ways the Giants do with a strong defense and a quarterback who can close out a big game. Wins against the playoff-bound Bucs and Lions effectively wrap up the NFC and home-field advantage in the playoffs, rendering the Eagles game a final practice session before the playoffs begin. Dallas enters the playoffs at 14-2 which both losses coming against the Giants, who they might again face in the Divisional Round.
Here, the Dallas Cowboys continue to struggle against stingy defenses while the budding connection between Dak Prescott and Dez Bryant continues to fizzle. In this scenario, Dak struggles against a stout Buccaneer defense as Dallas falls and starts a two-game losing streak while the Giants beat the Lions to become just one game behind Dallas in the NFC East standings. As a result, the remaining games are sort of do-or-die for the Cowboys and Dallas finds a heartbreaking way to lose against the Lions the following week to fall in a tie with the Giants for the NFC East crown with just one week remaining. Fortunately, the Redskins gift Dallas a win against the Giants in Week 17 while Dallas wins at Philadelphia to give Dallas the NFC East crown and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.
As the Dallas Cowboys are reeling from a weak performance in New York on primetime television, the locker room begins whispering about Dak Prescott's successive games with limited third down success, multiple sacks and turnovers. The eleven-game winning streak appears long ago and the media unrelentingly asks the coaches and players about Dak's ability to handle big games and the potential for Tony Romo to recover the season. The Bucs come to town this weekend and Dak continues to fail on third down, takes sacks instead of challenging the defense with his feet and the Cowboys lose a third straight behind an uninspiring offensive effort. While the boo birds do not make an appearance in Cowboys Stadium, Dallas loses hanily and all questions center on who the starting quarterback should be in Dallas. While veterans Sean Lee and Jason Witten continue to support Dak Prescott, they readily admit the offense has been uncharacteristically poor. This prompts a change to Tony Romo who delivers a victory against the Lions which clinches the NFC and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. This forces Dallas into a precarious situation where they must decide whether to start Dak or Romo (or Sanchez) in a meaningless Week 17 game, and then who to start in the Divisional Round two weeks later.