It seems like the whole football universe is in agreement about the Dallas Cowboys playoff future. Basically, they won't have one.
Most expect Dallas to be one-and-done, with a loss to the Seahawks Saturday night ending their season. Other more optimistic fans are hoping they could win one home playoff game before most likely traveling to New Orleans and losing on the road.
Sure, these are the most “likely” scenarios, but there was no one who believed it “likely” that a 3-5 Cowboys team could end up hosting a playoff game in the first place. So let's take a moment before the playoffs start to identify three reasons the Cowboys could shock the world over the next few weeks and find themselves in an NFC title game. Or even a Super Bowl.
Defense, Defense, Defense
This is the clear number one reason, right? If the Cowboys are going to upset the NFC's best, they'll need to play defense in a way only 1 or 2 other teams around the league have this season.
And they've already proven that they can do it.
Dallas finished the 2018 regular season top 10 in defensive DVOA, with some of their strongest performances coming against the league's best offenses. This, of course, includes their November victory over the 1-seed Saints, where they held that prolific offense to just 10 points.
Now, if there is going to be a Cowboys/Saints rematch it's going to happen at their place, where the Saints have been nearly unbeatable during the Drew Brees era. But as the old cliche goes, defense travels. Hopefully this will be the case for the Cowboys.
Dak Prescott Is Playing The Best Football Of His Career
Yes, you read that right. The often discredited quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys, Dak Prescott is playing the best football of his young career. It's been an up-and-down season for Prescott, but there has been much more good than bad over the last 8 weeks.
Last Sunday against the Giants Prescott was nearly perfect, throwing for over 380 yards and 4 touchdowns in the Cowboys' 10th win of the season. Prescott always avoids turnovers, something which is critical in playoff football, and has shown the ability to use his legs in key moments as well.
If you were just ranking the top quarterbacks remaining in the playoffs in a vacuum, Prescott's name may not come up until towards the bottom of the list. But for this team and at this moment, Dak Prescott looks like a winner that could help propel the Cowboys somewhere they haven't been in quite some time.
Zig When They Zag
The popular thing in today's NFL is to create an offense that looks like that of the Chiefs; one that looks to throw the ball all over the field and avoid falling into the run-run-pass ball control type of scheme. Obviously when you have Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce, and Tyreek Hill, running a pass happy offense makes a lot of sense.
But for the Cowboys and their personnel, zigging when the rest of the league looks to zag might be their best strategy. The Cowboys can neutralize these high powered offenses not only with their defensive studs, but also by running the football, controlling the clock, and keeping quarterbacks like Drew Brees on the sidelines.
It may be the old school way of thinking about football, but it just might work for the 2018 Dallas Cowboys.