The Dallas Cowboys were manhandled in every fashion by the Buffalo Bills in Week 15. Honestly, the 31-10 final score doesn't tell the whole story, it looked a lot worse than that. This defeat dropped the Cowboys to 10-4 on the season, and unfortunately, it gave them a 3-4 record on the road for 2023.
The main takeaway from this defeat is the Cowboys' inability to perform with the same intensity on the road this season as they do inside the confines of AT&T Stadium where they are 7-0 and haven't lost since the start of the 2022 campaign. The three wins by the Cowboys on the road are against the New York Giants and Los Angeles Chargers who are both 5-9, and also the 2-12 Carolina Panthers who currently have the top pick in the 2024 NFL draft. Those aren’t exactly good measuring sticks for road opponents.
Dallas has an opportunity to get back on track this Sunday with another tough road test against the Miami Dolphins who have the NFL's fourth-best rushing attack and the top overall offensive unit led by wide receiver Tyreek Hill. This would be a big game under any circumstance, but after the Cowboys got run over by the Bills it’s more glaring due to where the team will likely end up in terms of playoff seeding. Dallas is temporarily back in the NFC East lead after the Eagles lost, but Philly still has control. If Dallas drops to the fifth seed again they would take on the winner of the NFC South, currently the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. While the Cowboys would be heavily favored against any team in that division, it would also set up a tough road for the remainder of the playoffs.
* Cowboys at home: 7-0, 39.9 ppg, 431.7 ypg, +10 TOs— Todd Archer (@toddarcher) December 18, 2023
* Cowboys on road: 3-4, 21.7 ppg, 304.6 ypg, -1 TOs
“It’s a gap,” Mike McCarthy said. “That was part of my message. We’ve played so well at home and there’s just too big of a gap on the road games. We’re conscious of it.”
Assuming the Cowboys make it to the second round as things currently sit, they would play either the San Francisco 49ers or the Philadelphia Eagles if there is an upset in the three-seed versus six-seed matchup. The 49ers have not only beaten the Cowboys in each of the last two postseasons, they destroyed them in Week 5 at home 42-10. Dallas had a much better showing in a 28-23 loss to the Eagles on the road in Week 9, but in the end, they didn’t get it done. So, with the current state of affairs, there’s not a lot of optimism for the Cowboys to be road warriors in the postseason.
It's gut-check time for the Cowboys, there's no other way around it. The expectation for Dallas is to go deep in the playoffs, but if they can't perform on the road, it'll be yet another season with a quick playoff departure.