Despite the Cowboys disappointing 31-30 defeat at Detroit Sunday, losses for the Redskins and Eagles mean Dallas remains alone atop the division, the only team in the NFC East at .500. But the remaining eight games on the schedule paint a bleak picture for getting to nine wins this year.
How important was this loss to the Lions? Its magnitude can not be understated. A win on Sunday would have meant the Cowboys get nine wins with a 2-1 division record the rest of the way and wins against Minnesota and Oakland at home. Very doable.
Now? The road is a lot harder. There are two scenarios:
The Cowboys can get to nine wins by sweeping the division games and beating Minnesota and Oakland at home. The problem with that is the Cowboys haven’t gone undefeated in the division since 1998. Sure, it’s possible they go 6-0 this season, but they haven’t done that in 15 years – as far as plans go, it’s on the optimistic side.
Or, they Cowboys can go 2-1 in the division, which is much more likely, but that will mean they must defeat either the Packers, Bears or Saints – in addition to beating the Vikings and Raiders and winning at least one divisional road game in the second half.
Dallas is 3-0 in the division with a one-game lead over Philadelphia, so they’re certainly still in the driver’s seat. As far as the division goes, they’ve got road games remaining with the Giants and Redskins before closing out the season at home against the Eagles.
So assuming they drop one divisional game, they’ll need to beat either the Saints or Bears on the road, or the Packers at home – in addition to handling the Vikings and Raiders – in order to get to nine wins.