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Cowboys news: Dan Quinn has defense ‘sharpening the ax’ for the playoffs

The latest news surrounding the NFC East champion Dallas Cowboys.

Jacksonville Jaguars v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images

Dan Quinn, defense ‘sharpening the ax’ before playoffs - Nick Harris, DallasCowboys.com

The Cowboys will look to slow down a Packers team that’s won three straight to get into the playoffs, scoring 33 points in two of them.

“We’re definitely hitting our stride at the right time,” safety Jayron Kearse said. “You want to be playing your best ball when you get to that dance, and these past two weeks we’ve been hitting our stride. In order to keep that up, guys just keep doing what they’re doing. I don’t think anyone went in and did anything different. We got back to the basics and it worked.”

For Dan Quinn, the opportunity to bounce back in the latter weeks of the season has allowed Dallas to right wrongs and build confidence going into the win-or-go-home part of the season, even if he feels like there’s more room to grow.

“I think we’re making that progress,” Quinn said. “We’ve been talking about sharpening the ax. We’ll get tested again. That’s why going into the postseason, you have to have all of your s— together.”

While the defense expects a strong postseason from themselves – starting this week against the Green Bay Packers – they also know a strong unit awaits on the other side to help pick them up, just as they do for the offense at times as well.

“What gives me hope is, I know what we can do on our side of the ball with the guys we have, but we have 4 and 88,” Kearse said, alluding to Dak Prescott and CeeDee Lamb, respectively.

Sherrington: Why right now is the time for Cowboys to seize the postseason moment - Kevin Sherrington, Dallas Morning News

Players like Dak Prescott and DeMarcus Lawrence have been around for previous playoff losses to the Packers, with the Cowboys putting a 16-game home win streak on the line Sunday.

— Would it be enough for you if the Cowboys simply made it back to the NFC Championship Game? Probably should, except the road to the title game looks so winnable. Right up until it runs into the 49ers, that is.

— Let’s hope the Cowboys’ long, weird playoff history with the Packers has no bearing on Sunday. Or, if it does, it sticks with Mike McCarthy.

Another reason for the Cowboys to “Seize Everything” now? From the looks of it, this could be Dan Quinn’s last season as defensive coordinator. He’s apparently tired of turning down head coaching gigs. His departure would be a considerable loss. Look what happened to the Eagles after they lost their OC and DC from a Super Bowl team.

— Fans still upset over the fact that the Cowboys traded Amari Cooper should note that, for all the yards he piled up, Coop scored just five touchdowns this season. Brandin Cooks, the Cowboys’ second option, collected eight, and that after a slow start. The Cowboys have a lot more options than the Browns do, too. Jake Ferguson did just fine replacing Dalton Schultz as the No. 1 tight end. In fact, he and Peyton Hendershot need only two volunteers for a nice shuttle hurdle relay.

The First Read: What to like, dislike about all 14 NFL playoff teams; final MVP rankings for 2023 season - Jeffri Chadiha, NFL.com

Have the Cowboys solved their run defense issues going into a matchup against Aaron Jones and the Packers?

Dallas Cowboys

12-5 · NFC East champions

What to like: The combination of quarterback Dak Prescott and wide receiver CeeDee Lamb has been the difference for Dallas this season. Prescott produced the best season of his career at a time when most people would’ve been happy with him simply avoiding huge mistakes. Lamb became an elite player, one who dominated opponents on a weekly basis while setting franchise records. There are plenty of other things to like about Dallas — most notably, linebacker Micah Parsons and the chaos he can create — but this is a season where the Cowboys finally can claim their quarterback is playing better than anybody else in the NFC at this time of year. That will mean a lot if they move deeper into the postseason.

What not to like: The Cowboys’ defense better be ready to get physical. This is a unit that excels at hunting quarterbacks and creating turnovers in bunches when it’s playing with a lead. It also becomes a lot less productive when opponents decide to play smashmouth football. The Bills infamously bullied the Cowboys in a 31-10 defeat — when Buffalo ran for 266 yards — but Dallas had similar issues in losses to both San Francisco and Arizona earlier this year. The Cowboys won’t face a dominant rushing attack when meeting Green Bay in the Wild Card Round, but it’s coming later in the postseason. The Lions and 49ers will both be looking to pound the rock in potential rematches.

Playoff projection: Winning the NFC East and grabbing the No. 2 seed was monumental for Dallas. The Cowboys will win two games at home, then fall to San Francisco in the NFC championship.

Cowboys, Brandon Aubrey overcame a shaky start - Richard Paolinelli, Inside The Star

The Cowboys special teams may be the unit most looking forward to returning home to AT&T Stadium’s turf after a shaky day in the elements at FedEx Field.

Brandon Aubrey Sets A Record

I had a bad feeling when I posted about Aubrey’s bid to set two more NFL records last week. I was afraid I’d jinx him and sure enough…

Sorry, man, my bad.

Aubrey’s blocked field goal attempt denied him a pair of NFL records on Sunday.

But he still walked out of the stadium with a franchise record. His second extra point of the game gave him 151 points on the year.

He surpassed Emmitt Smith’s 1995 mark of 150 points for the most points scored by a Cowboys’ player in a single season.

While he missed his next field goal attempt, hitting the upright from 36 yards out, he rebounded with a 50-yarder.

Aubrey finished with 157 total points for the season. He went 36-for-38 in field goals – and 49-for-52 on extra points — for the year.

After trip to hospital for chest injury, Romeo Doubs is day to day - Charean Williams, Pro Football Talk

Rookies Jayden Reed and Dontayvion Wicks led the Packers in receiving against the Bears with Doubs exiting in the first quarter.

Packers receiver Romeo Doubs left Sunday’s victory with 3:21 remaining in the first quarter. He played only 11 plays before injuring his chest on an incompletion, his only target of the game.

Coach Matt LaFleur revealed Monday that Doubs went to a local hospital for evaluation of his injury before returning to the locker room postgame.

John Kuhn said on the radio broadcast that Doubs was coughing up blood.

“It seems to be he’s doing better, but he’ll be day to day,” LaFleur said, via Wes Hodkiewicz of the team website.

Christian Watson (hamstring) was inactive Sunday, leaving the Packers with Jayden Reed, Dontayvion Wicks, Bo Melton and Malik Heath at the position.

NFL playoff power rankings 2024: Every team’s real chances of winning Super Bowl 58 - Vinnie Iyer, Sporting News

All roads point towards the Cowboys and 49ers meeting in the playoffs for the third year in a row.

NFL playoff power rankings 2024

1. San Francisco 49ers, NFC No. 1 seed (+215)

The 49ers should be considered the team to beat despite their bad loss to the Ravens. They also have less daunting challengers in their own conference than the Ravens, making their path to get to Las Vegas a little easier. Brock Purdy having key playoff experience helps, and they might already have a Lombardi Trophy with him minus that devastating QB situation in last year’s NFC title game. Kyle Shanahan’s loaded team has knocked on the door and looks ready to finally break it down.

2. Baltimore Ravens, AFC No. 1 seed (+330)

The Ravens are more likely to deliver in this prime position than they were in Lamar Jackson’s first MVP season four years ago. They are more dangerous and versatile with both the run and pass. They can rush the passer from many angles and cover a lot of ground in their back-seven. The run defense actually can be exploited, but that’s about their only weakness.

3. Kansas City Chiefs, AFC No. 3 seed (+950)

The Chiefs remain the “big bad” of the season despite their offensive powerhouse status being revoked in the most adverse campaign of Patrick Mahomes’ brilliant career. Do they have enough reliable wide receivers? Is Travis Kelce washed? Can they pivot to becoming a running team? Can they win a true road playoff game?

With the answers about to be revealed, it’s a mistake to doubt Mahomes and Andy Reid at this time of year, and the Chiefs also have a nasty defense. Until they are eliminated, no team in the field will feel comfortable.

4. Dallas Cowboys, NFC No. 2 seed (+750)

Is this the year? The Cowboys’ skeptics already point to the looming 49ers matchup that has been unkind to them the past two years, and there might even be some danger with the red-hot Packers coming into Dallas in Round 1. However, the Cowboys seem to have hit a different gear since midseason with an aggressive offensive approach led by Dak Prescott and CeeDee Lamb. This mindset gives them a real shot of going all the way.

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