November 11, 2012; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) celebrates after throwing a touchdown to tight end Jimmy Graham (not pictured) during the second quarter of a game against the Atlanta Falcons at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-US PRESSWIRE

The Playoffs are Once Again a Possibility for the Dallas Cowboys

A week ago it seemed as if the Dallas Cowboys were doomed. They were destined for failure again this season and nothing could save them. Today the picture has changed considerably. At the risk of being a prisoner of the moment and overreacting to a singular win, everything has now clearly changed and the Cowboys are back in this. The Cowboys not only successfully beat a division rival moving them into sole possession of second place in the NFC East, but the New York Giants who currently occupy first place lost their second game in a row reducing the once-wide delta that separate the two teams.

November 11, 2012; New Orleans, LA, USA; A detailed view of an end zone pylon with the salute to service NFL ribbon logo prior to kickoff of a game between the New Orleans Saints and the Atlanta Falcons at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-US PRESSWIRE

Where it stands now

 

New York         6-4

Dallas               4-5

Philadelphia   3-6

Washington    3-6

 

New York is the last NFC East team to have their bye week so they will not resume play for until November 25th. This means the Cowboys have the ability to pull within half a game of the division lead next time the Giants take the field. This is because the Cowboys will play their week 12 opponent three days before the Giants play theirs. To achieve this the Cowboys must first win next week at Cowboys Stadium when the Cleveland Browns come to town. While nothing is ever certain for this team, it’s safe to assume Dallas will be favored to win this game.

Elsewhere in the division the Eagles and Redskins will be conveniently facing one another resulting in a potentially perfect division hierarchy. Mike Vick left Sunday’s game with a very severe concussion making it highly unlikely he will play five days from now. Say what you will about Vick but his escape-ability is a clear advantage to a team who cannot pass protect. An injured Vick coupled with a hostile Washington crowd should lead to a Redskin victory. If everything goes as planned, expect the division to look like this after next week:

New York         6-4

Dallas               5-5

Washington    4-6

Philadelphia   3-7

This would certainly place Dallas in a very good situation and master of their own destiny. What will the upcoming schedule look like for the Cowboys and the rest of the division? Does Dallas really have a realistic shot? Keep reading to see. It may surprise you.

Nov 24, 2011; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo (9) scrambles against the Miami Dolphins on Thanksgiving day at Cowboys Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-US PRESSWIRE

Week 12

Dallas plays the Washington Redskins at home on Thanksgiving. Washington always plays the Cowboys competitively and will come to Dallas with a strong defense and budding superstar QB. Dallas should win this but it’s not as easy as many think. Result: Dallas win (6-5) and Washington loss (4-7).

New York plays Green Bay Sunday night at home. After a very slow start Green Bay has sprung back holding a 6-3 record and still realistic Super Bowl contender. A primetime game in NY will be difficult to overcome but Green Bay is the better team and will persevere. Result: New York Loss (6-5).

Philadelphia should have Vick back and will have no problem beating the Carolina Panthers. Result: Philly win (4-7).

Week 13

Dallas/Philly rematch will have much of the same results as the first meeting. Result: Dallas win (7-5) and Philly loss (4-8).

In an upset the Redskins will avenge their loss to the Giants earlier in the season. The extra few days of rest and preparation, provided after the Thanksgiving game, pays off as the Skins extend the Giant’s November slide into December. Result: Redskin win (5-7) and Giant loss (6-6).

Oct 14, 2012; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton (14) shouts out a cadence behind center Jeff Faine (62) and the rest of his offensive line during the second quarter against the Cleveland Browns at Cleveland Browns Stadium. Browns beat the Bengals 34-24. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-US PRESSWIRE

Week 14

The Cowboys travel to Cincinnati to take on the mediocre Bengals. Result: Dallas win (8-5).

The Giants face an extremely hot New Orleans Saints team in NY. No doubt the Giants will be in desperation mode after a four game losing streak. New Orleans is similar to Green Bay so it’s possible the results of these games could be switched. Either way, it’s most likely NY will go 1-1 against the two teams. Combined with the upset loss in Washington, New York will be at 7-6 at this point in the season. Result: Giant win (7-6).

Washington and Philly will each lose to the Ravens and Buccaneers respectively. Result: Washington loss (5-8) and Philly loss (4-9).

Week 15

The red-hot Dallas Cowboys host the Pittsburgh Steelers and lose badly at home. Result: Dallas loss (8-6)

The Giants travel to Atlanta to play the Falcons. ATL is still playing for playoff seeding and easily dismantles the reigning Super Bowl champions.  Result: Giant loss (7-7)

The Redskins will beat the Browns while the Eagles will beat the Bengals. Result: Washington win (6-8) and Philly win (5-9).

Week 16

Possibly the key to the season for the Cowboys and Giants. The Cowboys play a strong and underrated Saints team while the Giants travel to play the Ravens who are nearly unbeatable at home. The Ravens are currently in second place in the AFC so they will certainly be in the playoff mix and gunning for top seeding. Result: Dallas loss for the second week in a row eliciting the “here we go again” feeling in every Cowboy fan over the age of 7 (8-7). New York loss (7-8).

Washington plays Philly for the second time. This time Vick is healthy and the game is in Philly. Result: Philly win (6-9) and Washington loss (6-9).

Week 17

The Cowboys end the season going on the road to the much-hated Washington Redskins. Washington will play strong all afternoon in an attempt to hand the Cowboys their first three game losing streak. Dallas shows strange passion and resiliency not often seen in December and enters the playoffs on a win and as division champs. Result: Dallas win (9-7) and Washington loss (6-10).

New York needed a Dallas loss and some help from around the league to get in the playoffs. Philly has already given up on the season giving the Giants their earliest win of the season. Result: Giant win (8-8) and Philly loss (6-10).

Results

While this entire prognostication is purely optimistic speculation and no doubt biased, but the point is to paint a realistic picture of what could play out. The Giants clearly have the tougher schedule while the Cowboys play easier teams and only go on the road two more times this year. It’s unlikely a wild card team will come out of the NFC East so winning the division is the best way into the playoffs.

Granted this could all change next week if the Cowboys fail to win. The key to Cowboy success simply lies in beating the upcoming teams they are favored to beat. If they do that, this can all be possible. Once in the playoffs anything can happen. They just need start winning games now because the Giants aren’t going to roll over and just hand this division over.

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