Cowboys embrace the chance to become dangerous
By Brad Austin
The Dallas Cowboys are still breathing in the NFC East after an embarrassing loss on Thanksgiving.
Nearly every NFL fan in the country buried the Dallas Cowboys during their grueling 33-14 loss to the undefeated Carolina Panthers on Thanksgiving.
As soon as quarterback Tony Romo took a season-ending dive courtesy of Carolina, the tombstone was carved.
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That’s even considering the woeful NFC East division is doing its best impression of the terrible NFC South of last December.
In 2014, the Panthers won the dreadful NFC South and backed into the playoffs with a 7-8-1 record. All the while 10-6 Philadelphia sat at home in disbelief.
Seeing as no NFC East team has a record above 5-6 at the moment, it’s quite conceivable a 7-9 team could win the division and make the playoffs.
If Dallas were to beat Washington twice and reach a 7-9 tie for first place, their 4-2 division record would trump both the Redskins and Giants.
Only 7-9 Philly could tie the Cowboys division record and win with a better conference record. To do so, the Eagles must still win games against Washington and New York.
Finishing 4-1 the rest of the way (defeating Washington twice) could still land 7-9 Dallas in a strong position to win the division.
After losing eight of the last nine games, few realistic fans believe the maligned Cowboys can secure four wins in the remaining five weeks.
Especially noting the fact Dallas dropped all seven games when Romo was a spectator.
Once again, back-up quarterback Matt Cassel will lead the charge with four failed attempts lining his back pocket.
Let’s not forget each of Cassel’s four losses were by seven points or less. New York won with an interception and kickoff return touchdown.
Seattle squeaked by on a single point. Philadelphia prevailed through an interception touchdown. Even Tampa Bay won by four after only scoring 10 points.
It’s safe to say Cassel’s Cowboys snatched defeat from the hands of victory. Erase one disastrous play in each game and a Dallas win was the likely outcome.
THE HEAT IS GONE
So what makes this time around any different from the past four flops behind Cassel?
The win-or-else pressure cooker has been shut off.
Almost everyone outside the Cowboys locker room has written off the season. Not only that, but Dallas is in the rare situation that they’ve been given a pass.
The consensus in the football world is the 2015 Cowboys are a playoff caliber team that was struck with a devastating rash of crippling injuries.
Now that the outside pressure is off and fans are looking towards the offseason for new hope, the current team can play free and loose.
Coaches can take bigger risks with chances of higher rewards. No one is going to grill them for going for it on 4th and goal in the first quarter.
A trick play in an odd situation was a foolish endeavor last week, now it’s going for the throat with nothing to lose.
WELCOME TO THE DANGER ZONE
This written off Dallas team has now become dangerous.
A talented team with no expectations and nothing to lose is a scary combination. Especially when they still believe even though no one else does.
Outside of 7-4 Green Bay, the other four remaining games are against teams with a combined 16-17 record.
Besides the Packers, there are no more Patriots, Panthers, or Seahawks. There are no preconceived losses before kickoff, even without Romo’s magic.
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With a little luck and no freebie touchdowns handed to opponents, this Cowboys team could potentially scrap their way to four more wins and a 7-9 finish.
One things for sure in this wacky Cowboys season…it’s not over ’til it’s over playing in the wasteland known as the NFC East.