3 players who could make or break the Cowboys’ playoff run

Dec 26, 2021; Arlington, Texas, USA; Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (4) on the field before the game against the Washington Football Team at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 26, 2021; Arlington, Texas, USA; Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (4) on the field before the game against the Washington Football Team at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports /
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Dallas Cowboys cornerback Anthony Brown (30)
Dallas Cowboys cornerback Anthony Brown (30)(Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports) /

The Dallas Cowboys have clinched a playoff berth and are heading back to the postseason for the first time since 2018. They have also won the NFC East.

After an up and down season, the Cowboys have found themselves in front of the playoff picture for most of the season. After a Week 1 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Dallas found a way to carry their momentum to win six straight games.

At 6-1, the Cowboys were considered one of the best teams in the league. Their offense was simply unstoppable, averaging 32.1 points per game. The combination of passing and running the ball was the key for this team at the beginning of the season as they ran for over 120 yards in five of their first seven games.

However, their high-powered offense wouldn’t continue their stellar play. They hit a wall in November. During this month, they went just 1-3, failed to rush for over 120 yards in any game, and dealt with many injuries.

Sitting at 7-4, the Cowboys season took a major turn for the worse. The offense wasn’t as explosive and the injuries kept piling up. Even with the rough stretch, America’s Team was still in control of their own destiny.

Nonetheless, Dallas would start to hit their stride, especially on defense. In December, the Cowboys’ defense allowed 12.75 points per game while forcing 3.5 turnovers a game. They also had four touchdowns during this span.

On the other side, the offense finally got going in their last win against the Washington Football Team. In the first half, quarterback Dak Prescott threw for over 300 yards and four touchdowns.

After winning four straight games in December, the Cowboys now own the second seed in the NFC with a record of 11-4. Although we don’t know what seed they will ultimately wind up with, it won’t be an easy road to the Super Bowl.

As of right now, there are five teams in the NFC with 10+ wins compared to only two in the AFC. The Cowboys are going to need everyone to step up if they want to make a run in the playoffs.

However, the following three players have to ball out, or else the Cowboys Super Bowl chances could go down the drain.

3. Anthony Brown, CB

Cornerback Anthony Brown is one player that the Cowboys will need to lean on in the playoffs. Fans have seen the former Purdue star have plenty of solid games and some not-so-solid games. Brown isn’t a Pro Bowler and probably will never be in his career, but he can be a big piece for the Cowboys in the playoffs.

There have been times this season where Brown has been a major liability, like in Week 12 against the Las Vegas Raiders. In this matchup, he accounted for four pass interference calls for a whopping 96 yards. That led to 20 points by the Raiders. What was supposed to be an easy matchup for the six-year starter against wide receiver Zay Jones turned into a disaster.

However, it hasn’t been all terrible for the 28-year-old cornerback. For starters, he only has four pass interference calls against him all season and one illegal contact penalty. Funny enough, besides the Raiders game, Brown doesn’t have another pass interference call against him all season.

Additionally, Brown showed in Week 8 against the Minnesota Vikings that he can guard some of the games best. He held wide receiver Adam Thielen to just four catches for 37 yards on eight targets, two of which were pass breakups.

Brown hasn’t been as much of a liability as people think. He has cleaned up much of his game from 2020, but there are still flaws in his play. Come playoff time, he might have to line up against some of the better WR2s in the league. For example, he might face wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., or wide receiver Antonio Brown, whom he faced earlier this season and gave up five catches for 116 yards.

If Brown comes out in these playoff games and completely gets owned, the Cowboys will be in big trouble. On the contrary, if he can lock up his side of the field with cornerback Trevon Diggs doing the same thing on the other side, opposing receivers will have a tough time.