While America as a whole has big plans to stuff themselves tomorrow, many in Cowboys Nation are already filling up on hopes and dreams. After Tony Romo’s return last Sunday and a long-awaited return to winning, we’re looking up at the division-leading New York Giants and wondering if we can catch them with six games to go.
Let’s set the stage. The Giants are 5-5 with a 2-2 record in the NFC East. The Cowboys are 3-7 but thankfully are also 2-2 in division play. The teams have already played twice and split those games, leaving things pretty wide open in terms of tiebreakers.
Here are the remaining six games on each teams schedule:
|WK 12||vs. Panthers||@ Washington|
|WK 13||@ Washington||vs. Jets|
|WK 14||@ Packers||@ Dolphins|
|WK 15||vs. Jets||vs. Panthers|
|WK 16||@ Bills||@ Vikings|
|WK 17||vs. Washington||vs. Eagles|
These schedule couldn’t be more evenly matched. In their remaining NFC East action, both teams have a road game with Washington remaining and then close out with home games against Washington and Philadelphia, both of whom have 4-6 records right now. The only downside for Dallas here is that it looks like the Eagles headed into a free fall while Washington may have still have some fight in them. Still, there’s no significant advantage either way in division play.
Outside of the division, both teams have home games against the 10-0 Carolina Panthers and the 5-5 New York Jets. Both go on the road to face 7-3 NFC North teams, with the Cowboys facing the Packers and the Giants headed to Minnesota. Both also have road games against middling AFC East teams, with Dallas going to Buffalo (5-5) and the Giants facing the 4-6 Dolphins.
Nobody will be able to blame the scheduling gods if they come up short. If anything, Dallas has a little edge thanks to the long rest they get after tomorrow’s Thanksgiving game. It will come a crucial time with back-to-back road games coming up after the holiday. Also, getting to play the undefeated Panthers on a short week is a nice advantage for the home team.
The best news for Dallas is that the Giants have no real momentum right now. They have been on a “win one, lose one” streak going back six weeks now. Unfortunately, they just had their bye week and may have had a chance to reset and correct a few things. What’s more, New York tends to play its best ball late in the year during the Coughlin-Manning era.
To be sure, Dallas overcoming this standings deficit and winning the division is far from probable. New York only needs to win four of their next six to finish 9-7, while Dallas has to win all of them. That’s daunting, to say the least.
That said, probability and possibility are two very different things. A six-game winning streak is certainly doable. In fact, the Cowboys had one just last year during the early part of the season. Don’t let November and December scare you, either. Last year, Dallas also went 6-1 to close out their schedule.
The weeks ahead will offer more clarity about the NFC as a whole and what the Wild Card situation is. If Dallas can run the table and get to 9-7 then that may be another possible way into the playoffs. For now, though, the division race should be our primary focus. It’s the best opportunity to extend our season and contend for a championship.
Dallas is 10-2 in its last twelve games with Romo as the starting quarterback. If that success ratio continues, then this mountain can absolutely be climbed. If they can hang a loss on the Panthers this week and then then Giants falter on the road in Washington, now you’re only one game back with five to go. The margin between possibility and probability gets a lot more narrow.
As Romo’s tweeted clip from “Major League” put it last week, “I guess there’s only one thing left to do…”
“…Win the whole #$*@&% thing!”