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Cowboys News: Cowboys Start Playoff Preparations For Packers. Or Giants. Or Lions.

The Dallas Cowboys don't care that they have marched to a 13-3 record. They're just focused and getting healthy and ready for the "real" season to begin.

Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Cowboys vow to be ready for Jan. 15 playoff, regardless of opponent - Charean Williams, The Star-Telegram
The Cowboys will have to wait for wild-card weekend to figure out their opponent in the divisional round of the playoffs.

The Cowboys have familiarity with whoever ends up coming to AT&T Stadium for a divisional-round playoff game Jan. 15.

The Cowboys will watch the wild-card round closely this weekend. They know they can’t play the third-seeded Seahawks, with the lowest seed among the Packers, Giants or Lions drawing the Cowboys.

"We’ll spend some time this week working on all three of the possible opponents in all three phases. But we have played them. We have recent history with them. We’ll go back through that and try to prepare ourselves as well as we can this week and then we’ll find out who we play and hone in and get ready for normal preparation leading up to a ballgame next week."

Here's how the Cowboys will prepare this week without knowing their next opponent - Kate Hairopoulos, SportsDay
The Cowboys plotted out how they'll approach this bye week while waiting to determine their divisional round playoff opponent Sunday, Jan. 15.

"Just to use this time to get refreshed and rejuvenated," head coach Jason Garrett said he told the team. "Maintain your focus. Guys who are banged up, make sure they get their treatments. Guys that want to come in and lift, take care of those responsibilities. Get your eyes forward."

"Eyes Forward" For The Cowboys After Best One-Season Turnaround In Team History - Rob Phillips, Dallas Cowboys
Despite losing their regular-season finale to the Philadelphia Eagles, the Cowboys produced their best-ever one-season turnaround: a 4-12 record in 2015 to a franchise-record tying 13-3 in 2016.

The Cowboys have already played all of their possible opponents at least once this season. They will spend some time this week working ahead on all three.

"We know them, but they know us," Garrett said. "We played against each other, we prepared for each other. So, the biggest thing we have to do is focus on us."

"This is a time to get our eyes forward and get back to work," he said. "We will clean up this game quickly and get our eyes forward as a team. We will practice at the end of the week with our team and we will get locked in on that."


Romo’s Great Start To New Year Produces Smiles All Around - Mickey Spagnola, Dallas Cowboys
Did everyone’s hearts good, didn’t it, to see Tony Romo smile? Yours, too, right? Been a while. Been a long while. And he deserved it too.

Who knows what the future holds, near and far, but the 14th-year quarterback – and let’s remember, the best darn quarterback in the NFL that 2014 season – has gone from lying on the ground helplessly in Seattle, grabbing his back and grimacing, to grinning as if a 22-year-old rookie trotting off the field here at The Linc Sunday with 10:11 left in the second quarter following his 3-yard touchdown pass Terrance Williams.

The Cowboys Got A Huge Victory On Sunday Versus The Eagles - Dave Halprin, Blogging The Boys
It’s true, even if it’s not obvious. The Cowboys walked out of the game feeling very good about themselves.

As of this posting (and very much knocking on wood), the Cowboys avoided any kind of major injury in the game on Sunday. Jason Garrett made every effort to make it seem like the Cowboys were going to go full throttle on Sunday, but late in the week it started to leak out that Mark Sanchez and Tony Romo would be playing significant parts of the game. That was the clear signal that the Cowboys weren’t gunning for a win over Philly, but a win over injury. They made that even more explicit when they decided to sit Ezekiel Elliott and Sean Lee for the game even though both players are keys for the team, and both are healthy. They also started sitting guys like Dez Bryant, Jason Witten and others as the game progressed.

Cowboys get out of Philly with health intact - Todd Archer, ESPN
Jason Garrett's goal was to get out of Philadelphia with all the Cowboys' key players healthy. It appears Dallas was successful.

"We had different objectives coming into the game," Garrett said. "There were going to be certain guys who weren’t going to play this game because of injury. We held a couple guys out, a guy on each side of the ball. And then we had a plan for a few other guys about how much we wanted them to play."

Cowboys OG La’el Collins readying for return from injured reserve - Charean Williams, The Star-Telegram
Collins has spent most of this season on injured reserve, but he’s almost ready to return from surgery to his right big toe.

"He’s worked very hard to come back," Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said Monday. "We’re going to give him every chance to do that. Whether he’ll be available to practice this week, I don’t know that right now. He’s working with our strength and conditioning coaches. He’s working with our trainers and our rehab guys really each and every day. We’ll see how he does over the course of this week. We’re certainly hopeful at some point he’ll be able to come back this season. We’ll just take his situation day by day."

Five Thoughts On The Cowboys Season Finale Against The Eagles - Danny Phantom, Blogging The Boys
The Eagles may have beaten the Cowboys on Sunday, but it was the team from Texas that came out the big winners. Here are five thoughts on the Cowboys Week 17 game against the Eagles

This weekend, I wrote about four possible scenarios involving Tony Romo in this meaningless game against the Eagles. As it turns out, the best possible scenario took place. Romo played and he played well. He only played one series and was 3/4 for 29 yards, but he looked sharp. When the Cowboys were facing a 3rd and 11, it was an unsettling moment. The Eagles were going to bring the pressure and so many things could go wrong. But Romo, like he has done many times before, calmly stood in the pocket and threw a nice strike to Terrance Williams for the first down. It was a pretty throw and had a lot of zip on it.


Why Cowboys QB Dak Prescott just had the most unlikely NFL rookie campaign ever - Rick Gosselin, SportsDay
I saw John Elway as a rookie. I saw Jim McMahon, Dan Marino, Troy Aikman, Peyton Manning, Eli Manning, Ben Roethlisberger, Matt Ryan, Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson too.

But what I saw from Dak Prescott this season is something I've never seen in the 43 years I've been reporting on the NFL. I saw the greatest rookie season by any quarterback in league history.

Handing out NFL awards for 2016 from Comeback Player of the Year to MVP - Bill Barnwell, ESPN
Tom Brady. Vic Beasley. Joey Bosa. Ezekiel Elliott. Jordy Nelson. Dak Prescott. Aaron Rodgers. Bill Belichick. Matt Ryan. Jalen Ramsey. Jason Garrett. Sense a theme? It's awards season, folks.

And while the turnaround produced by Del Rio has been remarkable, can it really be more impressive than what Garrett has done in Dallas? The Cowboys lost their starting quarterback indefinitely during training camp, and his backup, and had to turn to a rookie fourth-round pick in Prescott, a move with few parallels and precious little likelihood of succeeding without a dominant defense. Rod Marinelli's defense has exceeded expectations, but Garrett had a quarterback the league valued as a mid round pick and got him to play like a superstar basically from Day 1 of his rookie season.

The list of quarterbacks taken in the third round or later who posted above-average numbers as a starter during their rookie season since the merger includes two names: Russell Wilson and Dak Prescott.

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