My Dad and his best friend, let's call him Danny, have been inseparable since they were three years old.
Danny is very close to me as a result, he's family, and I just spent a weekend visiting with both him and my Dad. Danny absolutely loves the number 7 and does whatever he can to reference it. He's beyond serious about it.
“How long until dinner is ready?” -Anybody
“About 7 minutes.” -Danny
“How many limes did the recipe call for?” -Anybody
“I'd go 7 to be safe.” -Danny
You get the picture.
I'd been monitoring the mileage on my car for a few months as I was coming up on a milestone that I knew I had to document when it happened. I'd been looking ahead to try to figure out when it would happen and as fate would have it… the opportunity came on my way to visit my Dad and Danny.
I pulled over, safety first, to make sure that I could capture the perfection on my iPhone. I snapped the photo and texted it to both my Dad and Danny with Danny's signature line, “Yea baby!!!!!!!”. He responded, “Badasss!” …no I did not misspell that, including the extra “S” makes the word 7 letters long. I told you this dude was serious.
This glorious moment all happened because I was looking ahead and making sure that I didn't miss it. If you know me or you read my Don't Stop Believing post here at Inside The Star then you know that looking ahead is a relatively common thing for me.
Two weeks ago, before the loss to the Seattle Seahawks, I laid out three scenarios for the Cowboys to capture the NFC East Crown. These scenarios ran through Thanksgiving and ranged in optimism: Plan A was very Cowboys friendly, Plan B was average, and Plan C could have been written by Eli Manning himself (assuming he wouldn't get too confused writing).
Plan A seemed well within reach until Sam Bradford hit Jordan Matthews for the game-winning touchdown in overtime of last Sunday Night's game. Sadness filled the hearts of Dallas Cowboys fans as both Plan A and Plan B completely hinged on the Dallas Cowboys beating the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 9. It had to happen or we'd be staring Plan C squarely in the face.
So here we are. Plan C completely populated by Dallas Cowboys fans. The lone light of optimism here is that the New York Giants lost to the New Orleans Saints the same day that we lost to the Seahawks.
“Why did you stop after Week 12, RJ?”
The Cowboys play on Thanksgiving that week and their next game after is on Monday Night Football of Week 13. That is 11 days of rest in between games, or as I referred to it as a “mini bye”, that was going to give us the time to get ready for the run through the end of the regular season.
Things have changed.
I've been asked about my proposed “plan” for the NFC East now that the Cowboys have lost the game that my top two plans needed in the way that you and I need oxygen. We were all left in a daze after the loss to the Eagles, but I took a long look at the schedule for the four teams in the NFC East and tried to put the puzzle together: How can the Cowboys still win this division?
I believe that I have found the key to the 2015 NFC East Championship door for the Dallas Cowboys. Let me be clear that this new “plan” is in relation to what we need to happen. Let me also be clear that these are not predictions or guarantees. This plan is what a plan is… a hope for how things work out. The Cowboys are in a precarious place now where they need hope and help… a lot of it.
There is one last thing that I want to make clear before we get started.
These Cowboys are either going to make history or they're history.
The NFC East Standings through Week 9:
|Total Wins||Total Losses||Division Record|
|1. New York Giants||5||4||2-2|
|2. Philadelphia Eagles||4||4||2-2|
|3. Washington Redskins||3||5||1-1|
|4. Dallas Cowboys||2||6||2-2|
Obviously we've got some work to do, and we've got eight weeks to do it. Here is the schedule through the end of the regular season for the NFC East:
There are some things that we are going to have to assume. The sake of our season depends on them:
- The Cowboys will sweep the Redskins (2 wins).
- The Cowboys will lose no more than once through the Saturday Night Game against the New York Jets in Week 15 (Giving them at worst a 7-7 record at that point).
- The Patriots will take care of both the Giants and Eagles (1 loss each).
- The Giants will lose one of, hopefully both, their games against the Jets or Dolphins (1 loss, hopefully 2).
- The Eagles will lose to the Cardinals (1 loss).
- The Eagles will lose one of, hopefully both, their games against the Dolphins or Bills (1 loss, hopefully 2).
- The Redskins are not in this race and cannot be counted on to beat anyone within the division.
So we're banking on those seven things coming true. Remember that number. Obviously any extra losses from Philly/New York are more money in the bank. It should also be obvious that these losses are interchangeable.
So for example I'm saying that it's necessary for the Eagles to lose to the Cardinals, but if they lose to the Lions we can sub that loss in its place. Got it? Good.
We're talking about the bare minimum here. These assumptions are not disputable the rest of the way. We need those dominoes to fall. Let's continue.
“Alright, RJ. Let's say those seven things, or a set of circumstances amounting to the same results, come true. What does that mean?”
Here is the NFC East schedule again – this time I've highlighted games that I think each team will win in green and games that I think each team will lose in red.
Let me be crystal clear the games I'm counting as a loss are those in which I believe the teams that the Giants/Eagles/Redskins are up against would be favorites, and vice versa for the green.
Obviously there are more projected wins for the Cowboys because you asked what was necessary and that's it – more wins for America's Team.
As you can see I've left Weeks 16 and 17 untouched.
“Whoa, whoa, whoa! What's this blue? You only explained red and green! I'm lost.”
The blue games are toss-ups. That's the help that we need. Counting just the green/red games would yield the following amount of wins through Week 12 for each team:
The Giants and Eagles both have two blue games. We need at least one of those games to be losses for both of them (both would be great), which was part of the list of seven things we needed.
Assuming that they each did lose one of the blue games that would give the Giants, Eagles, and Cowboys all seven wins through Week 15. I told you to remember that number – it's going to mean everything.
Let's give each of those three teams seven, a very lucky seven, wins through Week 15 then. This is what we'd be looking at for them over the final two weeks of the season with all three tied at 7-7:
|Week 16||Week 17|
|New York Giants||@MINN||PHI|
Week 17 is a huge deal here. The Giants and Eagles play one another – which means a guaranteed loss for one (yay!) and a guaranteed win for another (boo!). We need that to fall exactly how we want it… which would depend heavily on those blue games and what happened in Week 16 (but remember we can't count on the Redskins for anything).
Remember when I talked about how we had to assume that the Cowboys would sweep the Redskins? That would give us a 4-2 division record. This is absolutely essential to this whole process because as things stand the Cowboys/Giants/Eagles are all 2-2 within the division. Both the Giants and Eagles play the Redskins one more time (a win for each) and then play each other. That means that one of them is going to end up 3-3 and one 4-2 as well.
We don't know which team we want to win that game yet because there are still so many games left to be played. That's a problem for six weeks from now when you're in the middle of Christmas shopping.
We just have to focus on getting to 7-7 – at the absolute worst – through these next six games because it's not only optimistic – but actually likely – that both the Giants and Eagles will be 7-7 at that point as well. 7-7 is what it's going to take.
These are the average winning percentages of the opponents that each team in the NFC East is going up against through the next six weeks:
|New York Giants||.675|
The Cowboys have the second toughest road, but this is the only one available for us – we are not allowed to be picky. The Giants have a difficult path while that of the Eagles isn't as intimidating. Those little blue smurfs are going to have to do us some huge favors and give us some wind in our sails.
So there you have it – a new plan. As I mentioned earlier these wins and losses are all interchangeable, but from a numerical standpoint the magic number is 7. We have to be at 7-7 and pray that both the Giants and Eagles are at 7-7 as well. It's all possible – we're just going to have to catch some breaks and play good football. It's time to get started.
Thank you for all your prayers and support. No surgery needed. We're just getting started cowboys nation. See you soon
— Tony Romo (@tonyromo) September 21, 2015
This is the last week without Tony Romo so things are about to get interesting. Hopefully this plan will serve as a great frame of reference, or barf bag, for you while we ride this roller coaster through the second half of the season.