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Don’t Stop Believing: Cowboys Scenarios To Winning NFC East Title

RJ Ochoa

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Cowboys Blog - Don't Stop Believing: Cowboys Scenarios To Winning NFC East Title

The Dallas Cowboys are, through their first six games of the 2015 NFL season, 2-4. That's tough cookies.

There is one goal for this 2015 season - win the Super Bowl.

I'll have you know that this year is actually Super Bowl 50... the golden anniversary of the biggest game in sports.

Some simple math will tell you that means there have been 49 teams who have stood on top of the world, bathed in confetti, raising the coveted Vince Lombardi Trophy.

Of those 49 Super Bowl Champion teams... 0 have been 2-4 through their first six games. Zero. Goose egg. Zilch. Nada. None. It has never been done.

Enter the 2015 Dallas Cowboys.

Before I get you all excited let me pump the brakes on this ride a bit. We need to get into the playoffs before we even have a shot at the Super Bowl (duh). I'm here to tell you that the playoffs, even with a 2-4 record, are still well within reach. And everyone knows that to win the Super Bowl, all you need is a ticket to the dance. It doesn't have to be the first or the prettiest, any ticket gets you into the tournament.

"How is this possible? We're 2-4. Feels like we're 0-100. I know that the division is terrible, but what needs to happen for us to win it?"

I'm glad you asked!

This season has really come down to the next five weeks/games. Why these five? Well since you seem to just be full of questions today... the next five games carry the Cowboys through Thanksgiving. After the Cowboys play the Panthers on Turkey Day, they'll get 11 DAYS of rest before heading to Washington for a Monday Night matchup against the Redskins. The locker room after the Panther game is the next checkpoint on the 2015 season. We need to get there in good standing.

Of course there are games that are pivotal after that stretch, but these five in question are what's going to serve as the equalizer to get the Cowboys back in the mix for when the cavalry (a #9-shaped cavalry) returns... Not forgetting Dezzy Bryant either.

That crownie-loving cavalry, aka Tony Romo, is eligible to return in Week 11 against the Miami Dolphins. Now would you stop asking questions and let me drop knowledge on you? Sheesh.

As we enter Week 8 of the 2015 NFL season these are the standings within the NFC East:

  1. New York Giants (4-3)
  2. Washington Redskins (3-4)
  3. Philadelphia Eagles (3-4)
  4. Dallas Cowboys (2-4)

Here are the next five weeks/games for all four of those teams, which will effectively decide this division this year:

Week 8 Week 9 Week 10 Week 11 Week 12
NYG @ NO @ TB NE BYE @ WASH
WASH BYE @ NE NO @ CAR NYG
PHI BYE @ DAL MIA TB @ DET
DAL SEA PHI @ TB @ MIA CAR

Alright so now we've laid out all the puzzle pieces... time to put it together.

We're going to look at this next stretch in three different hypotheticals: Plan A, Plan B, and Plan C.

Plan A: Very Cowboy-friendly. I thought about naming this "pecan pie" because it's what solves all of our problems. Plan A assumes that all the breaks go our way, but it's not overly optimistic expecting the division rivals to lose every game.

Plan B: This is the most reasonable expectation for this stretch. Plan B, aka Ham Sandwich, is assuming that the other division teams win the games that they should AND that the Cowboys win/lose the games they should from a reasonable perspective.

Plan C: Defcon 5. This is break-the-glass-pull-the-fire-alarm type stuff. The good news about Plan C (aka Steamed Broccoli) is that the division crown is still attainable with it. It's just the scariest plan.

Plan A

Week 8 Week 9 Week 10 Week 11 Week 12 Record After
NYG @NO - L @TB - W NE - L BYE @WASH - L 5-6
WASH BYE @NE - L NO - L @CAR - L NYG - W 4-7
PHI BYE @DAL - L MIA - L TB - W @DET - L 4-7
DAL SEA - L PHI - W @TB - W @MIA - W CAR - L 5-6

"I THOUGHT YOU SAID THAT PLAN A OR PECAN PIE OR WHATEVER YOU CALLED IT MEANT THE COWBOYS DOMINATED THIS STRETCH?"

Dude. It does.

As you can see I have deemed that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are the sacrificial lamb of the NFC East as the only wins I gave the Giants and Eagles were against Famous Jameis. The lone Washington win was against New York, a game where we're definitely going to need Kirk Cousins to "like that."

Obviously the Cowboys could surprise against Seattle on Sunday, they sure do get up for games against the Seahawks, but I thought a loss here was reasonable. As was a loss against the Panthers on Thanksgiving. Consider that the Cowboys will have four days rest after a game IN Miami. Remember Thanksgiving last year? No bueno.

The Cowboys would be tied for first in the division at this point with the home stretch ahead of them... with all of their Stars at their disposal. This is a huge victory.

Plan B

Week 8 Week 9 Week 10 Week 11 Week 12 Record After
NYG @NO - L @TB - W NE - L BYE @WASH - W  6-5
WASH BYE @NE - L NO - W @CAR - L NYG - L  4-7
PHI BYE @DAL - L MIA - W TB - W @DET - L  5-6
DAL SEA - L PHI - W @TB - W @MIA - W CAR - L  5-6

"I don't feel so great about this scenario. We're a game back from first place, and we're tied with the Eagles for second!"

I'm telling you... everything is still a-ok here. To come out of Thanksgiving, with 11 days of rest in front of us, only one game back of the division would be incredible. The stretch after Thanksgiving, when you'll be searching everywhere for my Christmas present, leans a little bit more in the Cowboys favor than anyone else's. More on that later.

You might want to pause for a second here.

We're about to get into Plan C and it's... well it's not pretty. I'll just say that I'd rather have to watch every episode of Pretty Little Liars a thousand times than live this out.

Grab a tub of ice cream and throw a blanket over your head as I unveil this horror. Kind of appropriately since Halloween is this weekend. What are you dressing up as? I was thinking about going as Marty Mc-

"ENOUGH SHOW IT TO US ALREADY!"

Ok, relax. Don't say I didn't warn you.

Week 8 Week 9 Week 10 Week 11 Week 12 Record After
NYG @NO - W @TB - W NE - L BYE @WASH - W 7-4
WASH BYE @NE - L NO - W @CAR - L NYG - L 4-7
PHI BYE @DAL - W MIA - W TB - W @DET - L 6-5
DAL SEA - L PHI - L @TB - W @MIA - W CAR - L 4-7

*sobbing*

"I should have just let you tell me about your Halloween costume. Now I've eaten all this ice cream and I hate myself. And you. This is terrible. My poor eyes."

Yea, the G-Men really like Plan C. I cautioned us all against the Giants getting too far ahead during the Cowboys bye week. Thankfully the Eagles managed to beat them two weeks ago or this would be even worse.

A few things about Plan C.

  1. The Redskins are 4-7... as they are in Plans A and B. They are not a good football team and Kirk Cousins should really celebrate what they did last week because that's the end of it. We do not need to worry about them.
  2. Philadelphia beats us at home, I know it sucks. Detroit isn't even a guaranteed loss for them, especially if they don't play like the Philly Sam Bradfords, but even then... they're going to beat the Bucs. The Dolphins should be able to take care of them, but they'll be in the race entering December here.
  3. The Giants are running away with this thing. They've got what could be two cake walks in front of them with New Orleans and Tampa Bay. We need to pull hard for the NFC South these next two weeks. Who dat.

Feeling better? Because I've got something that'll help. It's the schedule for each team after Thanksgiving.

Week 13 Week 14 Week 15 Week 16 Week 17
NYG NYJ @ MIA CAR @ MINN PHI
WASH DAL @ CHI BUF @ PHI @ DAL
PHI @ NE BUF ARI WASH @ NYG
DAL @ WASH @ GB NYJ @ BUF WASH

There's a lot of good news here.

"BUT WE PLAY THE PACKERS IN GREEN BAY! AND THE BILLS IN BUFFALO!"

I'm really going to need you to quit interrupting so I can save the day. Thanks.

Look at the Giants. They've got the Jets, Panthers, Vikings... those are tough games against teams on the rise right now. Not to mention that they play the Eagles. So somebody's got to lose that game. Yay!

Washington might beat the Bears. Maybe.

I would feel bad for Philly if I didn't hate them with every ounce of me. Pats, Bills, Cardinals all in a row... ouchie. After those fun times they'll pancake the Redskins before they have to play the Giants! Someone is going to lose that game! Yay again!

"Not to interrupt or anything, RJ... but I'm with you now. I threw the ice cream away and everything. Bring this damn thing home."

Going to Green Bay and Buffalo is tough, I won't lie to you about that. The good news is that:

  1. This is an EXCEPTIONAL road team.
  2. The Cowboys have a score to settle in Green Bay. No way they are losing that game. Dez might break the single-game yardage AND touchdown records.
  3. The Buffalo Bills are coached by Rex Ryan so you know something is going to go wrong.
  4. Two games against Washington in December sound better than that ice cream you just tossed. Hello, Kirk Cousins. This is Greg Hardy, Randy Gregory, Tyrone Crawford, Demarcus Lawrence, Sean Lee, Rolando McClain, and the rest of Rod Marinelli's fun bunch. We can't wait to give you your Christmas present.

So have some faith, Cowboys Nation! Obviously we're rooting for Plans A, B, and C in that order... but even if Armageddon happens (don't want to cloooose my eyes) everything is going to be ok.

The next five weeks are really important, and specifically the next three. If we can come out of these next 21 days with two wins then we are well on the way to making Plan A a reality.

Get ready for Sunday. Plan A is going into effect and you won't want to miss it.


RJ Ochoa on Fancred

~ Follow RJ Ochoa on Fancred ~

What do YOU think? How realistic do you think Plans A/B/C are? I want to know! Email me your thoughts at Roel.Ochoa.Jr@gmail.com or Tweet to me @rjochoa!

Tell us what you think about "Don’t Stop Believing: Cowboys Scenarios To Winning NFC East Title" in the comments below. You can also email me at RJ.Ochoa@SlantSports.com, or Tweet to me at @RJOchoa!



I like long walks on the beach, mystery novels, no just kidding those suck. The Dallas Cowboys were put on this earth for us all to love and appreciate. I do that 24/7/365. I also love chicken parmesan. Let's roll. @RJOchoa if you wanna shout!

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5 Comments
  • Don

    You are 100% right on that Chris and he will be resting during the Eagles game. Cleary gets the start.

    • Brian Martin

      Don, Cleary didn’t look too bad playing against Detroit, but is still a big downgrade from Tyron Smith. I’m sure they will give him extra help to protect Prescott’s blindside.

      • Don

        No he didn’t look bad but we know he’s a back up at best. This will be good work for him at Philly. Talk about being thrown to the wolves !!! He’ll definitely need some help and I’m like you if Dak is taking some bad hits pull him..I think they will

        • Brian Martin

          Now we just have to hope they don’t wait too long to pull the starters. That’s the main thing I’ll be watching against Philadelphia. I don’t want to see any of the key starters suffer any kind of injury or setback. I think I’ll probably be on pins and needles until the final seconds click off the clock.

  • Brian Martin

    Seeing Tyron Smith not being to finish the game because of a sprained MCL against Detroit was my worst fear. Luckily, he should be able to recuperate in time for the playoffs.

Star Blog

Cowboys en Español: Evaluando la Administración

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Can we Believe General Manager Jerry Jones?

Entre los aficionados de los Dallas Cowboys, pocas cosas son criticadas tan frecuentemente como la administración de la franquicia que no ha ganado ningún Super Bowl en más de dos décadas. Se ha convertido en un equipo que, a pesar de ser el más valioso en el mundo deportivo, no ha sido nada relevante en el emparrillado. Lo que alguna vez fue una dinastía se ha convertido en una unidad que rompe frecuentemente los corazones de los fans.

Jerry Jones y Stephen Jones, siendo los operadores del ámbito deportivo del negocio familiar, son criticados semana tras semana y en gran parte por justa razón. Pero en gran parte, por cosas no muy válidas.

Cambios de Coach

A mi parecer, lo más criticable para la administración de este equipo viene cuando hablamos de los coaches. Muchos se burlan de los Cincinnati Bengals y de la manera en la que están atascados con el Head Coach Marvin Lewis. Con Jason Garrett al volante, la situación para los Cowboys no es nada diferente.

A mediados de la temporada 2018, no parece que esta narrativa vaya a cambiar. Una vez más, los Cowboys arrancaron de una manera muy inconsistente y ya no sabemos que esperar de ellos. Gran parte de las derrotas, la mayor parte, es el coacheo.

Sin duda el equipo no será exactamente el mismo en 2019, pero ¿serán suficientes los cambios como para decidir quedarse con el mismo capitán que no ha podido mantener el barco navegando por años?

El Draft

A diferencia de como se manejan muchos equipos en la liga, los Jones fungen como general managers de su propio equipo. Con la ayuda de Will McClay han logrado superar varios de los fracasos de los Jones de antaño, pero actualmente, siendo sinceros no han hecho un mal trabajo.

A pesar de las critícas de Abril, Leighton Vander Esch está probando haber valido más que la pena. Siendo objetivos, aparte de Taco Charlton en el 2017, todas las selecciones de primera ronda de los Cowboys han sido valiosas. La línea ofensiva, el corredor, un cornerback que por fin se está perfilando como uno de los mejores en la liga.

En cuanto a la segunda ronda, ha habido varias críticas, muchas con razón. Pero el mejor caza cabezas del equipo, DeMarcus Lawrence, el linebacker Jaylon Smith, Randy Gregory y más están teniendo un impacto muy fuerte en el equipo.

Decisiones difíciles

La administración se ha visto en la necesidad de tomar decisiones bastante difíciles después de una temporada de nueve victorias en 2017. El LB Anthony Hitchens fue liberado, Dan Bailey se fue inesperadamente, se confió en Byron Jones para tomar su opción de quinto año.

Hasta ahora, pura decisión digna de aplaudirse. Pero ninguna como la más reciente de todas: Amari Cooper.

Por más caro que haya salido, los Cowboys merecen bastante crédito por haber mejorado muchísimo su posición de WR. Si el equipo llega a tener una oportunidad esta temporada, será en gran parte por él.

No cabe ninguna duda en mi cabeza de que los Jones han cometido errores a lo largo de los años, el más evidente siendo la resistencia de dejar ir a Jason Garrett. Pero a pesar de esto, la administración ha tomado excelentes decisiones y ha realizado el draft muy bien. En ese aspecto en específico, les aplaudo.

Tell me what you think about "Cowboys en Español: Evaluando la Administración" in the comments below, or tweet me @MauNFL and let’s talk football! If you like football and are looking for a Dallas Cowboys show in Spanish, don’t miss my weekly Facebook Live! show, Primero Cowboys!



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Star Blog

Sack Numbers Don’t Tell DeMarcus Lawrence’s 2018 Story

Kevin Brady

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Breaking Down DeMarcus Lawrence's League High 5.5 Sacks Through Week 4

Coming off of a career year in 2017, many fans expected DeMarcus Lawrence to continue his ridiculous sack production this season. After all, he is once again in a "contract year" due to the franchise tag, and fans are hoping the Cowboys can secure him longterm this offseason.

Through the first four games of 2018, Lawrence looked as ridiculous and unstoppable as ever. He had 5.5 sacks, tied for the league lead, and was dictating the pass protection schemes of every offense the Cowboys were facing.

Since that hot start, though, DeMarcus Lawrence has recorded just 1 sack, falling behind some of the league leaders he was once ahead of. This has some people scratching their heads and wondering if Lawrence's career year in 2017 was just that, a career year. One which he will never replicate again, and one which the Cowboys should factor out when talking contract extensions.

Here's why those people are wrong.

Let's first talk about what makes DeMarcus Lawrence so good, and then we'll get into the full context of the Cowboys defense and how that explains some of the drop in sacks.

Lawrence, unlike some of the league's other top pass rushers, is a complete 4-3 defensive end. He is one of, if not the best run defending defensive ends in football, as shown by his 12 tackles for loss on the season (only Aaron Donald and Danielle Hunter have more).

Much of the year, the Cowboys run defense has boiled down to Lawrence making splash plays, as we saw against the Washington Redskins. Adrian Peterson was gashing the Cowboys during that game, and the only one who did anything to stop him was DeMarcus Lawrence, as indicated by his 3 tackles for loss that Sunday.

There's also the point that 6.5 sacks through half the season is, well, good. It's really good! And when you couple his sack numbers with his solid pressure and QB hit stats, you can see that Lawrence is having a very good season.

Then there is the context of this entire Cowboys defense, specifically their defensive line and pass rush. To put it bluntly, DeMarcus Lawrence has been their only consistent rusher this season. Though we came into the year with high hopes for Randy Gregory, and cautious optimism about first round pick Taco Charlton, neither have been all that impressive this season.

Somebody, anybody, has to step up and become a threat opposite of Lawrence. David Irving could help matters with his interior pass rush ability, but he has been unavailable for basically the entire season.

Without another pass rusher for offense's to even think twice about, Lawrence is getting double teamed and/or chipped by a tight end or running back on just about every rush. It's becoming rare that Lawrence is in a true one-on-one pass rush situation.

Of course, if you are elite, offenses are going to shift protections to you in this way and you still have to find ways to be productive.

And thus far in 2018, DeMarcus Lawrence is doing just that.



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Star Blog

Can QB Dak Prescott Steal Back His Mojo From Atlanta?

Brian Martin

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Can Dak Prescott Regain His Mojo Against Atlanta?
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

When the Dallas Cowboys last traveled to Mercedes-Benz Stadium they were completely throttled by the Atlanta Falcons. It's a game a lot of Cowboys Nation would like to forget, but no one more so than Quarterback Dak Prescott. That game could very well be where his struggles really began.

It's almost exactly a year later and the Dallas Cowboys still find themselves haunted by that brutal beating the Atlanta Falcons handed them in Week 10 of the 2017 season. The Cowboys seemed to lose all confidence in themselves after that game, but it was almost as if it was the exact point in time where Dak Prescott lost all of his mojo as well.

Before that match up against the Falcons, Prescott was still playing at a pretty high level. But since then, he has been in a slump and there have been very few signs of recapturing any of that magic he once had. Heading back to Atlanta maybe the key for him finding and stealing back his mojo.

Things could definitely go a little differently this time around. The Cowboys will have Ezekiel Elliott and Tyron Smith in the lineup this week. Zeke missed the game last year due to the league mandated six-game suspension, and Tyron missed due to an injury. Having those two back in the lineup could pay huge dividends, especially for Prescott.

Without his starting left tackle and running back, Dak was pretty much beaten to a pulp by the Falcons defense a year ago. They applied relentless pressure, hitting and sacking him on a number of occasions. Unfortunately, I think that's where he started seeing ghost in the pocket and its haunted him ever since.

Dak Prescott

Dallas Cowboys QB Dak Prescott (Photo by Daniel Shirey/Getty Images)

The beating he took at the hands of the Falcons has really thrown off his entire game. His mechanics, accuracy, and effectiveness as a scrambler can all be traced back to that one matchup. He just hasn't been the same QB he was prior to that game.

Prescott's stats prior to the Falcons game:

24 starts
66.7 completion percentage
102.4 passer rating

Prescott's stats since the Falcons game:

17 starts
63.3 completion percentage
83.1 passer rating

As you can see, that's a notable difference. His passer rating has shockingly dropped nearly 20 points since last playing the Falcons and it's really hurt the entire offensive production. It's time for that to change.

Prescott has no choice this week. He has to get back up on the horse that bucked him off and hopefully regain that mojo he left in Atlanta a year ago. Fortunately for him, his confidence might be is as high as it's been since that last meeting after pulling off the upset against the Philadelphia Eagles last week.

Now, he just has to go out and prove it!

Do you think Dak Prescott can regain his mojo against the Atlanta Falcons?



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