Right now, the Dallas Cowboys are 4-3 and have 1st place position in the NFC East. It is a great place to be and there’s no doubt they have played well to get there.
But, when you consider their schedule, the record isn’t that impressive.
Their four wins have all come against sub-.500 opponents. Three of those were tough divisional games, but there is no denying the NFC East is bad this year. Sweeping divisional opponents is awesome, but the Cowboys still haven’t won against a good team (St. Louis, even with Bradford, is not a good team).
That is why this game against Detroit is so important. If Dallas can get out of Ford Field with a win, it will be their first against a good team.
In losses against Kansas City, Denver, and San Diego (all worthwhile opponents) the Cowboys were at least competitive. And there is something to be proud of in that. Moral victories are a real thing. Failures can be useful if you learn from them and use the disappointment as motivation. But sooner or later, you need to actually win the tough games. Detroit offers a great opportunity for Dallas in that respect.
The combo of Mathew Stafford and Calvin Johnson makes the Detroit passing game among the best the Cowboys will face all year. So Phillip Rivers, Peyton Manning, and Eli Manning have thrown for 400 yards against the Cowboys.
Monte Kiffin was able to stop the bleeding over the past two games, but that was against a hobbled RG3 and Nick Foles. Shutting down Stafford and Megatron would add a bit more weight to the idea that Kiffin can still coach in the NFL. If the secondary fails to do so? Things don’t look good for Dallas in today’s NFL. You can’t win in the playoffs without pass defense.
On the defensive side, Detroit isn’t exactly a juggernaut. They are 31st in the league with 397 yards allowed per game. But they do have a mean defensive line anchored by Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley. Cowboy’s Center Travis Frederick had this to say in regards to talent he’ll be facing:
“At least up until now, I feel like it’s the best front that we’ve seen…I can’t really talk to teams that I haven’t watched. But looking at their front seven, really, they’re really a good defense, and they have a lot of good weapons on the back, as well. Obviously up front with the defensive tackles, they’re both really top notch guys as far as their play.”
As much as I want to believe the Cowboys have established a new, winning identity, they have yet to prove it. This game gives them an opportunity to show they can win against one of the more talented teams in the NFL. Let’s hope they do so.