The Dallas Cowboys had a three-game winning streak snapped in a 27-7 loss to the Atlanta Falcons that could possibly end this season’s hopes.
Say what you want about the Dallas Cowboys in 2017, but one thing is for sure. The Cowboys are not elite and they are not likely to make the playoffs this season.
Barring the kind of personnel issues that Dallas is facing, the Philadelphia Eagles have already clinched the NFC East despite not even playing on Week 10. With a full three-game lead over Dallas and that pancake schedule Philly has enjoyed, this puppy is pretty much wrapped up.
Sure, there’s a lot of football still to play and the Eagles might face some adversity from this point forward, but the Cowboys will face far more moving ahead and it looks like this season might be done by the time Ezekiel Elliott returns on Christmas Eve to face the playoff contending Seattle Seahawks – you know they’ll be playing for something.
Consider the following names that all of a sudden are no longer available to America’s Team beyond Elliott:
Dan Bailey – His absence in Atlanta was felt, although insignificant in the grand scheme of things.
Sean Lee – Remember those back-to-back losses against the Los Angeles Rams and Green Bay Packers? Well, those days are back.
Tyron Smith – Growing back issues are now becoming a big-time concern. Hey, seven years in the NFL will do that to some players. Hopefully this is temporary, but I’m having doubts from afar.
The Cowboys were even without cornerback Orlando Scandrick for a key part of the Atlanta loss, although this might not be a long-term issue.
Yes, not having Elliott in this game probably hurt more than some expected, but not having Tyron Smith was a train wreck for this team. Falcons pass-rusher Adrian Clayborn had probably made the Pro Bowl by halftime of this game as Chaz Green was completely outclassed to the point of embarrassment. Dak Prescott never had a chance in this game, and it’ll be interesting to see just how long Tyron Smith will miss playing time.
So, as you can see, this is not an overreaction to just a single loss for the Cowboys. These issues just listed aren’t going anywhere anytime soon and it’s probably not a good idea to place bets on this team reaching the postseason, which might not be a bad thing if that comes to pass.
The Cowboys vaulted from the ashes of a quarterback-less 2015 season to a 13-3 record and the top seed in the 2016 NFC playoffs with a young team that probably didn’t have as good of a defense as it has now.
Look at what’s happened to the Eagles and Rams this season, both playing quarterbacks drafted the same year as Prescott, but both playing on non-playoff schedules this year. This often plays a huge role in determining which paper-thin NFL rosters qualify for the postseason.
The Cowboys might still make a push this season. Maybe Elliott’s suspension isn’t as long as expected. Perhaps Smith’s back situation improves enough to get him through the season and obviously Bailey needs to get back as soon as possible.
As far as Lee, who knows?
But the Dallas Cowboys already need help in terms of qualifying for the playoffs. Winning the division at 5-4 isn’t likely to happen, but even a wild card playoff berth will be a daunting task, to say the very least. Just one or two more losses will kill the Cowboys postseason chances this year, and this scenario seems all but certain.
It’s a good idea to start getting familiar with the young, fresh talent that will be available to the Cowboys in next April’s 2018 NFL Draft, which is set to take place in Dallas-Ft. Worth.
Anyone think that Roger Goodell has the courage to actually walk out onto the stage to announce that first selection?
Either way, head coach Jason Garrett has his work cut out for him – again.