Thursday's loss to the Washington Football Team was devastating to the Dallas Cowboys' lingering playoff hopes in 2020. While still not technically out of it, the Cowboys will now have a difficult time overtaking Washington in the comical NFC East division race.
Losing the momentum from last week's victory over the Minnesota Vikings was bad. Losing Zack Martin for perhaps multiple weeks was awful. But giving up the head-to-head tiebreaker to the Football Team may have been the most disastrous outcome of the Thanksgiving meltdown.
Sure, Washington is still just 4-7 and Dallas is 3-8. And as funny as it is to be talking about either of them as playoff contenders, such is our reality this year in this dismal dump of a division.
But now the Cowboys have just five games left to catch up to Washington and need two win at least two more games than they do. That leaves little room for error for a team which has been highly erroneous all season.
All season long we've had our eyes on the Philadelphia Eagles, expecting them to be the biggest threat in the NFC East. But Carson Wentz and his team are imploding week to week and have tough games ahead against Seattle, Green Bay, New Orleans, and Arizona.
Meanwhile, Washington seems to be finding stability with Alex Smith's return and Antonio Gibson's breakout at running back. They are the only team in the division trending upward and have an easier schedule coming than Philly.
By the time the Cowboys and Eagles play again in Week 16, neither may be in position to catch Washington.
The Football Team already did plenty of damage to Dallas' playoff hopes back in Week 7 with Jon Bostic's dirty hit on Andy Dalton. The Cowboys very well may have won the next two games against Philadelphia and Pittsburgh if they'd had Dalton available at quarterback.
While Andy made out of this week's rematch unscathed, Zack Martin's injury could be the final nail in the coffin. The Cowboys have barely been competitive in games that Martin's exited early or missed.
Thursday was actually the team's best showing without Zack on the field. Dallas was still in the game until Ezekiel Elliott's fumbling and Mike McCarthy's bumbling allowed things to get out of hand.
Thankfully Dallas' schedule going forward isn't too stiff. Assuming they can still field most of their team by next Monday the Baltimore Ravens will be toughest assignment. From there it's the Bengals, 49ers, Eagles, and Giants; all winnable games if the Cowboys shooting themselves in the feet.
Catching Washington is far from impossible. After all, the Football Team hasn't beaten anyone this year outside of their own division rivals and a Bengals team that lost QB Joe Burrow early in the second half. That 4-7 record may look really impressive in the NFC East but obviously they're still a bad team themselves.
Whoever wins our division this year is going to be just that; the best of four bad teams. The Dallas Cowboys have five games left to try and earn that distinction and a playoff spot, no matter how many jokes or criticisms come with it.
But now Washington has the momentum and that critical head-to-head tiebreaker. Given how our season's gone, that may be more than this beleaguered Cowboys team can overcome.