Dallas Cowboys: What Lies Ahead for the Division Champs?


The Dallas Cowboys are the 2014 NFC East division champions.

Head coach Jason Garrett should be the NFL Head Coach of the Year. Quarterback Tony Romo is going to finish top three in the Most Valuable Player voting. Running back DeMarco Murray will be the NFL’s rushing champion, and could be the NFL’s Offensive Player of the Year. Wide receiver Dez Bryant is going to lead to the league in touchdowns. Linebacker Rolando McClain has as good as shot as anybody to win the NFL Comeback Player of the Year Award.

It has been a magical season in Dallas. This team has accomplished things no one thought possible. But what lies ahead for this Cinderella story?

After thrashing the Indianapolis Colts and clinching the NFC East in style, the Cowboys sit at 11-4. The winner of the NFC North, either the Green Bay Packers or Detroit Lions, is guaranteed a top-two seed in the conference. The winner of the NFC West, either the Seattle Seahawks or the Arizona Cardinals, will be guaranteed at least a first-round bye as long as the winner does not have five losses.

The Cowboys tie-breakers are not going to allow them to be in the first-round bye conversation unless the Seahawks win their division with five losses. So, at the moment, it looks like Dallas will be the 3rd seed in the conference– hosting the runner-up of either North or West divisions.

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The bad news for the Cowboys is that a long playoff run in the NFC would test their defense with top-notch offenses with superior quarterbacks like Aaron Rodgers, Matthew Stafford, and Russell Wilson. The good news for them is that their quarterback is playing as good, if not better than any signal caller in the NFL. Add to that Dallas’ offensive philosophy is geared towards time of possession domination–a recipe that is built towards negating the impact of star quarterbacks.

The 2014 version of the Cowboys can compete with any team in this league. Imposing trips that could lie ahead to Lambeau Field in Green Bay or Century Link Field in Seattle will mean little to these road warriors who currently sit at 7-0 on the road. This Dallas team is battle tested, and seem to be fueled by the obstacles that have got in their way this season.

In the week-to-week league that is the National Football League, it is important to remember that any joy or promise of a fantastic season is always just 60 minutes from being stripped away. Only one team will rise above the others by the time this tournament is over. For now, the Cowboys should enjoy accomplishing this feat which has alluded them since 2009. They will be heard from, as the match-up problems they present are not friendly to their opponents.

The 11-4 underdogs have a chance to end the regular season at an astonishing 12-4 next week in Washington when they take on the Redskins. However, the week after that looms large for a franchise that hasn’t had the resume of recent to back up its championship-winning pedigree from the days of Roger Staubach and Troy Aikman.

The loaded NFC will be an absolute gauntlet for whichever team will eventually prevail from the conference. The Cowboys are not going to be the favorites to be that team. What lies ahead for them will be the most challenging stretch they will have endured–but the strength of a quarterback coming into his own should give fans solace, as he gives this team as good a chance as any to hoist the Lombardi Trophy in Glendale, Arizona this February.