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Week 11 Playoff Projection: Cowboys Win Could Send Shockwave

Jess Haynie



With last week's loss in Atlanta, the Dallas Cowboys fell out of the NFC's top six. They sit on the outside with several other 5-4 teams hoping to push their way back into a playoff spot.

This week's schedule for NFC contenders features two major matchups and the Cowboys are in one of them. Before we get to the games, here's a look at the current standings for the conference:

  1. Philadelphia Eagles (8-1)
  2. Minnesota Vikings (7-2)
  3. New Orleans Saints (7-2)
  4. Los Angeles Rams (7-2)
  5. Carolina Panthers (7-3)
  6. Seattle Seahawks (7-2)
  7. Atlanta Falcons (5-4)
  8. Detroit Lions (5-4)
  9. Green Bay Packers (5-4)
  10. Dallas Cowboys (5-4)


  • Minnesota is ahead of New Orleans because of a Week One head-to-head victory.
  • New Orleans (5-1) is ahead of Los Angeles (4-2) thanks to a better record in NFC play.
  • The cluster of 5-4 teams are ranked due to head-to-head tiebreakers. Atlanta has wins against Detroit, Green Bay, and Dallas so they sit on top. Detroit has a win over Green Bay. The Packers beat the Cowboys earlier this year. Therefore, Dallas is at the bottom of the pile.

While things feel dire in Dallas right now, your Cowboys still have only four losses. If they can figure out how to play without Ezekiel Elliott and Sean Lee, the Boys can get back in the race. With seven games left to play, a lot can happen with the teams ahead of them as well.

Here are the relevant games for the NFC contenders in Week 11:

Philadelphia Eagles @ Dallas Cowboys

The thought of the struggling Cowboys bouncing back and beating arguably the hottest team in the NFL tonight probably seems a little too good to be true. However, rivalry games rarely follow the on-paper probability.

What effect coming off their bye week have on the Eagles? As we've seen many times, extra rest can also result in a loss of rhythm. If Philly comes out cold, the Cowboys still have enough talent to take advantage. A loss wouldn't pull the Eagles out of the NFC's top two, but it would help restore confidence in the Cowboys and close the gap in the NFC East.

Los Angeles Rams @ Minnesota Vikings

Before the season, who could've guessed that this game would have such significance? Yet here we are with these 7-2 teams colliding and major playoff implications at work. Both the head-to-head tiebreaker and conference record are on the line, making this the game of the week for the NFC.

Washington @ New Orleans Saints

Also 7-2, the red-hot Saints should be rooting for the Rams in the game we just mentioned. The Vikings currently sit above New Orleans with a head-to-head tiebreaker from their Week One meeting. Not only would a Minnesota loss pull them below the Saints, but the Rams still would have a worse conference record (5-2) than the Saints (6-1). That is, of course, assuming the Saints handle business today against Washington.

Detroit Lions @ Chicago Bears

The Lions are trying to stay alive at 5-4 and have a welcome game against the sorry Bears to help their cause. I thought Chicago would hang a loss on the Packers last week with Brett Hundley playing quarterback, but that was too much to ask. Now Matthew Stafford comes into town and should have an even easier time.

Baltimore Ravens @ Green Bay Packers

Coming off that big win last week, the Packers will host the middling Ravens. Baltimore has had some nice wins and some ugly losses this year, making them a tough opponent to predict from week to week. This one could go either way, and obviously Dallas fans should be rooting for the Packers to slide out of contention.

Atlanta Falcons @ Seattle Seahawks

This is a win-win for the Cowboys. Atlanta taking a loss would knock a dangerous playoff threat, with same overall record and a head-to-head tiebreaker, down to 5-5.  Seattle currently sits in the #6 spot and the final wild card, so they also need to lose to help Dallas' playoff chances.

Cowboys fan since 1992, blogger since 2011. Bringing you the objectivity of an outside perspective with the passion of a die-hard fan. I love to talk to my readers, so please comment on any article and I'll be sure to respond!

Dallas Cowboys

Jaguars Waive Barry Church; Could Cowboys Bring Him Back?

Jess Haynie



Barry Church

Veteran safety Barry Church was released today by the Jacksonville Jaguars. Could he return home to the Dallas Cowboys, where he spent his first seven seasons?

Despite his leadership and consistency on defense, Dallas allowed Church to leave in free agency when Jacksonville gave him a lucrative deal. But if he clears waivers, could the Cowboys consider bring him back for depth and support during their likely playoff run?

Jane Slater of the NFL Network reported on this potential reunion:

Jane Slater on Twitter

Cowboys haven't reached out to S Barry Church but I'm told they are discussing the possibility of bringing him back to Dallas according to a source informed. Church, 30, was released by the Jags today and is familiar with the system having played there from 2010-2016.

The Cowboys have had solid play from their current starting safeties, Jeff Heath and Xavier Woods. Neither is a star, but the duo has not been a liability during the team's current five-game winning streak.

Church was a similar player, reliable if never exceptional, during his time in Dallas. He could be a nice insurance policy for the playoffs if something happened to one of the starters.

Barry knows the system. He never played for Kris Richard, but he was with Rod Marinelli for three seasons before leaving in free agency.

According to reports out of Jacksonville, Church is being released because the team wants to go with younger, cheaper players now that their season is over. There is no known injury keeping Barry from playing.

Of course, Dallas would have to make room on the roster to pick Church up. They could third-year prospect Darian Thompson, who is the current fourth man at safety.

Barry Church must now go through the 24-hour waiver process. A team may claim him, including the Cowboys. We'll see what the future holds.

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Dallas Cowboys

How the Dallas Cowboys Can Win the NFC East This Week

Jess Haynie



Jaylon Smith, Eagles

It's only Week 15, but the Dallas Cowboys could become the 2018 NFC East Champions this week through a couple of scenarios. I thought we'd take a moment today to break down how the Boys can win their division and assure their spot in the playoffs.

With three weeks left in the regular season, most of the divisional games have already been played. The only two left to play are the Week 17 finales; Cowboys at Giants and Eagles at Redskins.

Here are the current standings:

  1. Dallas Cowboys 8-5 (4-1 in division)
  2. Philadelphia Eagles 6-7 (3-2 in division)
  3. Washington Redskins 6-7 (2-3 in division)
  4. New York Giants 5-8 (1-4 in division)

The Giants have been scrappy lately, winning four of their last five, but it's too late for them to try to win the division. Even if the Cowboys were to fall to 8-8, the best New York could do is tie them in overall record. They would have also split their head-to-head series, negating that tiebreaker.

At that point, it would come down to the record within the division. New York would improve to 2-4 with a win over Dallas in Week 17, but the Cowboys would still be 4-2 against the NFC East. Dallas would still be the division champion.

So, that knocks out New York. Technically, the Eagles and Redskins are still alive. But their margin is about as slim as it gets.

Both Philadelphia and Washington need the Cowboys to lose their last three games, and then to also win out themselves, to steal the NFC East crown.

Sean's Scout: Cowboys Thankful for Cooper in Division Win Over Redskins

Dallas Cowboys WR Amari Cooper

For the Redskins, it's about their record against division opponents. The best they can finish is 3-3, assuming they'd win their last game against the Eagles. With the head-to-head series against Dallas split this year, they would have to finish 9-7 overall and have the Cowboys drop to 8-8 to become NFC East Champions.

The Eagles also need to finish one game ahead of Dallas, but for a different reason. Philadelphia lost both their games with the Cowboys this year, so Dallas has the head-to-head tiebreaker.

So that really makes thing simple for Dallas; win just one of your last three games and you're the division champion.

Not only that, but even if Dallas were to fall this week against the Indianapolis Colts, they could still clinch the division with losses by the Eagles (@ Rams) and Redskins (@ Jaguars).

It would certainly behoove the Cowboys to get the division locked up now. They could then use the last two weeks of the season to get ready for the playoffs.

Dallas would have the freedom rest banged up players like Ezekiel Elliott and Zack Martin. It would also allow them to work in returning players such as Sean Lee and Tavon Austin and figure out their new rotations without pressure to win.

Beating the Colts on Sunday isn't a given; they're at home and desperate to stay alive in the AFC playoff picture. They are the toughest opponent Dallas has left until January.

But despite that, with the Eagles facing a juggernaut team and Washington trying to play football without a quarterback, there's a great chance that the Cowboys will be the NFC East Champions by Sunday night.

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Game Notes

#INDvsDAL: How The Game May Be Decided In The Red Zone

Kevin Brady



Fantasy Football - Fantasy Football Quarterback Rankings - Week 2 2
Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

In many ways the Dallas Cowboys offense has found their stride in recent weeks. Over this five game win streak they have "found their identity" playing ball control offense and trusting their quarterback to make big throws when needed most. Of course the defense has been the star most weeks, but this offense should not be slept on either.

This doesn't mean the offense has been without their fair share of struggles, however, particularly in the red zone. Struggles that the numbers say could cost the Cowboys this weeks' game in Indianapolis if they don't get it cleaned up.

In terms of red zone offensive efficiency the Cowboys have been downright horrendous. In fact, they are dead-last in the league in success rate inside the 10 yard line, last in first-and-goal success rate, and 21st in success rate between the 11 and 20 yard lines.

There's no sugar-coating those numbers, they are bad. Especially when you consider that this team has arguably the league's best running back and a quarterback with the size and athleticism you might expect from a linebacker.

For as bad as the Cowboys are inside the red zone, the Colts are equally as good. Indianapolis is top 10 in terms of success rate inside the 10, at the goal line, and in first-and-goal success rate. They are also 11th in success rate between the 11 and 20 yard lines.

Despite not having the individual running back the Cowboys have, the Colts offensive line and skill players as a whole set them up a bit better when the field is shortened. Tight end Eric Ebron has been rather incredible in terms of production this season, catching 12 touchdowns on 58 receptions. Andrew Luck is also a more accurate quarterback than Dak Prescott, though Prescott should be a much more dangerous red zone threat than he currently is.

Bob Sturm on Twitter

I am working on the Cowboys 32nd ranked Goal-to-Go offensive numbers. They have run 35 of their 59 total plays out of Shotgun-11 Personnel. In those 35 plays, the average gain per snap is....12 INCHES. I am not kidding. They could out-gain that by running QB sneaks. I am amazed.

Of course, some of the Cowboys red zone struggles can be pinned on offensive coordinator Scott Linehan. Linehan has failed to scheme open the "easy" red zone touchdowns we see so often around the league. As pointed out by Bob Sturm on Twitter this week, the Cowboys' personnel groupings and play calls when in goal-to-go situations have been questionable to say the least. But while blame does fall on the coaches' shoulders, the players need to execute better as well.

Games in the NFL often come down to just a handful of plays, and red zone efficiency plays a key role in deciding the outcome of close games every week. If this is once again the case on Sunday, based on past performance, the Dallas Cowboys could be in trouble against the efficient Colts.

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