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Cowboys news: Dallas is eager for the all-important December football coming up

Your Thursday morning news for the Dallas Cowboys.

Philadelphia Eagles v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Sam Hodde/Getty Images

Dallas Cowboys’ Mike McCarthy Reveals Value of ‘Playoff-Like Schedule’: ‘Looking Forward To It!’ - Jonathan Alfano, Sports Illustrated

This upcoming stretch of games will help prepare the Cowboys for January.

The Cowboys aren’t a team to back down from a challenge, though. For coach Mike McCarthy, the Cowboys’ late-season gauntlet is just a chance to get ready for playoff football.

“I really do like the stretch that we’re getting ready to be on,” McCarthy told reporters. “When you look at the teams that we’re getting ready to line up against and, obviously, Philadelphia is all that matters right now — this is an excellent opportunity for us to play in playoff-type games without playoff consequences.

“I think that serves us very well because December football is something I’ve personally always enjoyed, and I think it’s a great indication of where you are as a team and what you need to do to get into the playoffs, and to be ready for the playoffs. We’re looking forward to it.”

Dallas may boast a 9-3 record, but to many, the team still hasn’t proven itself yet. The primary argument detractors use is that the Cowboys haven’t beaten good opponents, with all of their wins coming against teams with losing records, save for their most-recent win against the 6-6 Seattle Seahawks. Before the end of the season, the Cowboys will get at least three shots at teams with winning records, possibly four depending on the Bills’ performance.

For now, though, Dallas’ sole focus is on Sunday’s matchup against Philadelphia and the chance to force a tie at the top of the NFC East.

We wanna get to this 10th win,” McCarthy said.

Cowboys’ rookies starting to hit a wall - Richard Paolinelli,

Despite one obvious bright spot, many first-year Cowboys players haven’t been “lights out.”

The NFL now has 13 games under its belt for the 2023 season. It shouldn’t be much of a surprise that the rookies are starting to hit the wall.

Aside from Brandon Aubrey, the Cowboys’ rookie class certainly appears to have done so.

Hunter Luepke and Luke Schoonmaker made some small contributions in Thursday’s 41-35 win over Seattle.

But the rest of the class was either inactive or failed to make a dent in the stat sheet Thursday night.

Aubrey continues to be the cream of the 11-rookie crop.

But this draft class is not looking like one to be remembered among the all-time best.

Mazi Smith

Smith saw just 11 defensive snaps and none on special teams. He was tied for third-most – which also means last – among the five defensive tackles in snaps.

Smith registered no official stats in the 11 plays that he was on the field.

He continues to underwhelm as a first-round pick with just 10 tackles for the season.

Luke Schoonmaker

Schoonmaker saw 25 snaps on offense and another 13 on special teams.

Cowboys TE Luke Schoonmaker

He was targeted one time by Dak Prescott. He caught the pass for a 12-yard gain and a first down.

Schoonmaker has seven catches for 61 yards and two touchdowns for the season.

Hunter Luepke

Luepke had 11 snaps on offense as a blocking back and 15 more on special teams. His lone touch of the game was a 15-yard kickoff return to close out the first half.

Hunter Luepke scores his first NFL touchdown against the Patriots.

Luepke has 3 carries for 13 yards and a touchdown to go with 10 yards on two receptions for the season.

Jerry Jones offers his theory on why Shaquille Leonard chose to sign with Eagles over Cowboys - Jared Dubin, CBS Sports

The Cowboys’ owner thinks he knows why the linebacker made the choice he did.

It’s not often that late-season free-agent signings make big waves, but one of them did this week.

Former Indianapolis Colts All-Pro linebacker Shaquille Leonard was released two weeks ago, then took a pair of visits to NFC East rivals in the Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles. On Monday, Leonard signed with Philly.

During his weekly radio appearance, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones offered his theory as to why Leonard made that decision, and indicated that he did not think it was a salary issue.

“There was absolutely never any money mentioned, I met with him, had lunch with him and had a good visit with him, but there was never a financial issue at all,” Jones said on 105.3 The Fan. “So, that wasn’t the case in any way, he apparently wanted to go where he thought he had the best chance. I certainly recognize and honor his decision there. It never was an issue for us regarding our confidence that we’ve got in our linebackers.”

NFL Playoff Picture: If Cowboys beat Eagles, that’s when NFC gets interesting - Frank Schwab, Yahoo! Sports

A Dallas win this weekend would shuffle the already heated race atop the NFC.

It wouldn’t be Florida State/CFP level chaos, but if you like tiebreaker math and uncertainty in your NFL playoff race, then you want a Dallas Cowboys win on Sunday.

If the 10-2 Philadelphia Eagles beat the 9-3 Cowboys, that practically clinches the NFC East. The Eagles would have a two-game lead and the tiebreaker based on a season sweep. It would also keep the Eagles a game ahead of the 49ers for the very important race to get the No. 1 seed and bye in the NFC.

Everything is up for grabs atop of the NFC if the Cowboys win.

If Dallas wins, the NFC East would be tied with four games to go. The Eagles still wouldn’t be in as bad of shape for the division as you’d think. Dallas has the much tougher remaining schedule, though Philadelphia still has tricky games too.

The Eagles are also in good shape with the tiebreaker if they lose Sunday and then both teams win out after that. The first tiebreaker is head-to-head, and they’d split that. Second is record in division games and third is record in common games, and they’d split those as well. The fourth tiebreaker is conference games. The Eagles have one conference loss (two if they lose Sunday) and the Cowboys have three. The Cowboys need the Eagles to get to four losses to win the division.

Here is the Cowboys’ first injury report for Week 14.

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