For All The Marbles.. I think.. (photo courtesy of espn.go.com)

A Colossal Opportunity For The Cowboys

Forget the next few weeks. If the Dallas Cowboys can not win this game, the NFC East will belong to the New York Giants. There will be opportunities for the Giants, Lions, Bears and Falcons to lose and the Cowboys to win in the next three weeks but at the rate the Boys are playing, are any of us confident that this team could absorb ANOTHER two-game losing streak in December?

The unspoken plan at the beginning of this year was pretty loud; this team is rebuilding. That’s a dirty word that Cowboys Owner and GM Jerry Jones know he best never mutter to demanding Cowboys fans. However, any reasonable, objective person could come to that conclusion. I had been counting on this fact all year long. You want to talk about hope? That’s been my hope. I’m praying the Cowboys are building to something better than this. How else to explain letting go of a “#1″ receiver or nearly the entire offensive line? How else to explain no moves for a secondary shake-up? I’ve counted on the fact that Jerry and Jason have it all figured out (oof!) in the coming years.

What I didn’t count on was the Philadelphia Eagles and (to a lesser extent) the New York Giants to play very poorly throughout this season. I predicted a possible playoff berth. I never imagined this dream scenario for the Cowboys.

For some reason though, this feels like a recurring nightmare. Once again, the Cowboys rode into December hot off of a November winning streak. You won’t find any Tony-Romo-chokes-in-December stories in this corner of Cowboys universe, but that is all the media can talk about this time of year because once again, they started December with a loss. It comes down to reasonable assessments, though. In the last five years, the Cowboys have played good teams in December. They have won some and they have lost some and that’s where the conspiracy of Tony Romo’s play dies for me. Sure it is a bit odd. But you know what else is odd? Playing ALL four championship game teams in one month as they did in 2008. Or how about losing your best playmaker for a few weeks in 2007 to injury? What about a 3-2 record in 2009? I guess that one does not count.

The truth is that this is a team game and this franchise hasn’t put out a good product with the talent it has had since 2007, for a variety of reasons. Even then, it found a way to disappoint its demanding fans late in the season. The most ridiculous of the reasons is to assume one player performs worse when the calendar month starts with a ‘D.’

Which brings us all the way back around to tonight’s game against the Giants. With the return of Fiammetta and Austin, the offense should be improved from the dreary performances of the last few weeks. Now that the world has had a chance to roast Jason Garrett, perhaps he will be a bit more sharp as well. I would argue that he coached his best game as Cowboys head coach a little over a year ago when the team embarrassed the Giants in the New Meadowlands and started an 8-game redemption tour for the garbage they heaped upon us in the first half of 2010. The defense has been under scrutiny by many fans (me the most) but if Rob Ryan can find a way to hide the secondary a little bit, the front seven can actually play really well at times. It explains the Cowboys top 10 defense and DeMarcus Ware’s league leading 15 sacks don’t hurt either.

The Giants match-up well against Dallas on both lines. THIS will be the difference. If Rob Ryan can find a way to inspire the defensive line to re-establish the line of scrimmage all night long and Garrett’s offensive line can keep Romo upright, the Cowboys have a chance. Anything short of that and the Giants will embarrass the Cowboys. There WILL be a distinct advantage to being at home in this game but the Cowboys have yet to prove they can take advantage of a home field.

I predicted the Cowboys to lose in The Landry Hat predictions page. I believe Tony will take care of the ball, Dan Bailey will make his kicks, Rob’s defense will get a few pressures and Dez will show up to play on special teams and on offense. I do not believe they will win the line of scrimmage on either side of the ball consistently throughout the game and that losing will cost them the NFC East crown.

But winning will mean quite a bit more. Winning will mean laying claim to a division crown at a time when the “All-hype Dream Team” is a Super Bowl contender, Eli Manning is an elite quarterback and Rex Grossman guarantees division titles. The Cowboys can not mathematically clinch the NFC East tonight. But Jason Garrett can show the world that, under him, the Cowboys will never be counted out, no matter what the circumstance.

I want to believe..

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Tags: Cowboys Dallas Dallas Cowboys DeMarcus Ware Dez Bryant ESPN Giants Jason Garrett Jerry Jones Miles Austin New York Giants NFL Philadelphia Eagles Rob Ryan Roy Williams Tony Romo Washington Redskins

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