Despite 10 straight victories and the best record in all of football, the Cowboys are not yet in the clear in their own division, let alone the entire conference. Sure, logic would tell you that if they were to win the East at this point, the number one seed and home field advantage would also be locked up. But winning the NFC East is not a given at this point, and everyone knows it.
On December 11th the Cowboys will travel to New Jersey, to face the only team which has put a number in the right-hand column of the Cowboys record so far, the New York Giants. With 6 straight wins of their own and an 8-3 record, the Giants are breathing down the Cowboys’ necks, waiting for their opportunity to jump ahead in the division.
The entire world knows what awaits the Cowboys in two weeks.
Unquestionably, the biggest game of the season to this point. But, Dallas has one more to go before they can start to think about that game.
As hard as it might be to not look ahead to that NFC East showdown, the Cowboys must remain focused on the task this week, the Minnesota Vikings. After suffering a devastating loss to the Detroit Lions, the Vikings cannot afford to drop another conference game if they hope to make a playoff run.
Technically, the Cowboys could “afford” the loss, but it would certainly make things a whole lot tougher down the stretch. Luckily for Dallas, the culture which head coach Jason Garrett has created puts them in perfect position to win their 11th straight.
Each day Garrett preaches about the importance of every snap, every practice rep, every meeting, every single minute of the workday. When asked on a Wednesday about the future of a certain player or coach, he always responds “we are just focused on today.” While it annoys the hell out of the media, it is the exact right approach his Cowboys must take this week.
The Cowboys will open as favorites, despite being on the road for a Thursday night against a formidable opponent. They are now being crowned the best in the NFL by many “experts” as Seattle falls to Tampa Bay and the Patriots look average against the Jets. But this cannot get to their heads, it cannot affect their focus or their play.
Jason Garrett won’t let that happen.
This game at Minnesota actually reminds me of a Thursday night game against a different NFC North team in 2014, the Chicago Bears. Dallas, after an important Thanksgiving game, had to travel to Chicago 10 days before going to Philadelphia to play for the division lead. Garrett kept the team focused, and they won both games in impressive fashion.
In order for the Cowboys to get to where we all want them to be, they need to come out with similar results.