Nov 28, 2013; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys safety Brandon Carr (39) celebrates with linebacker Bruce Carter (54) after intercepting a pass in the fourth quarter during a NFL football game against the Oakland Raiders on Thanksgiving at AT

Defense Almost At Full Strength in Dallas

October 20, 2013; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Dallas Cowboys middle linebacker Sean Lee (50) during second half action against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Pittenger-USA TODAY Sports

Playing on Thursday for the Dallas Cowboys, and every other team in the NFL, puts a pinch on the preparation schedule that players are accustomed to. It can be a real detriment to the team in terms of getting key players healthy in time to compete in key games. It’s especially difficult when a team like Dallas plays themselves into a tie for first in a weak division like the NFC East.

Realistically Dallas should have at least three more victories than they have right now. Games against Kansas City, San Diego and Detroit went right down to the wire, with the Cowboys either giving up key plays, or not converting when the opportunity presented itself. The Denver game could have gone either way, regardless of the lights-out play by Tony Romo and the offense.

The one key element that was lacking in all of these close games was the defense was the culprit. The linemen, linebackers and the secondary didn’t have a complete game across the board, and it ended in a loss.

A good thing came from the Cowboys short Thanksgiving week. By playing on Thursday, and their next game not until Monday night, injured players like Sean Lee and Justin Durant were give the extra time they needed to get back on the field. This bodes well for a defense that currently ranks 31st against the pass, 27th against the run and dead last in total defense.

Lee is a special player that finds his way to the ball in both the pass and run game. And according the Cowboys assistant coach Rod Marinelli, Durant is playing a lot better. Guys like this are a huge boost to a unit that really started to excel in last Thursday’s Thanksgiving Day match-up against the Oakland Raiders.

Dallas isn’t at 100% yet, but the short week coupled with a Monday night game is putting them on the right track. And considering how well the Philadelphia Eagles are playing, the Cowboys are going to need all hands on deck to get to the playoffs.

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