There have been no repeat NFC East champions over the last 14 years and the Dallas Cowboys made sure that streak continued as they overthrew last season’s juggernaut from Philadelphia. If the Cowboys defeat the Giants in New York this week they will wrap the 2018 season with a 10-6 mark and claim the division. However, if they fail to do so, and many of the premier online sportsbooks like Bookmaker are projecting they will by installing them as 6 ½ point underdogs, Dallas still wins the division and nothing changes but their record.
Thus, with nothing on the line, the goal is to escape Week 17 without injury and be ready to welcome most likely Seattle, but possibly Minnesota, to Dallas in the first round of the postseason parade.
It’s been quite a ride for this Cowboys team, muscling their way into the playoffs, warts and all. We can clearly recall when Dallas was 3-5 and a rudderless ship whose captain, Jason Garrett, was bracing for either a mutiny or relief of his command.
Let’s give some credit to Jerry Jones, who could have done what most billionaires do when they are displeased; replace the old Bentley, the aging wife, or the beleaguered head coach of their favorite toy. He gave Garrett the rope to either hang in there or hang himself and right now, the Cowboys still have a chance to be world champions.
Garret had this to say following the playoff clinching 27-20 victory over the Bucs:
“It’s a tangible goal that you have with your team. You want to win the division first and get in the playoffs, so we accomplished that goal, and certainly proud to be a part of our group from our coaching staff to our ownership to our personnel, and especially our players and the commitment they made going all the way back starting probably all the way back in February, and for a lot of the guys on our team it started way before that. So certainly, something I think we can be proud of, but hopefully, it’s just the start of something.”
But if the Cowboys pull a repeat performance of their Week 16 win, then it could be a quick one-and-done for the NFC East champs. You see, Dallas was beaten by Tampa Bay in virtually every category last Sunday except the one that counts – the score.
The Bucs had nearly 400 combined yards versus the Cowboys, who tied their season low with a mere 232 yards. The Bucs ran 25 more plays and had the ball for 35 minutes versus just 25 for the ‘Boys. The Dallas defense was flagged seven times in that game and if just a few things went the other way, our ‘Boys would be fighting for their playoff lives in the season finale.
But the long and short of it is there isn’t a team in the league that hasn’t won ugly and the Cowboys are in the playoffs whether the pundits and talking heads like it or not.
Speaking of ugly, let’s revisit their hideous 3-5 start.
Since the NFL’s playoff format changed 28 years ago, 163 teams have registered a 3-5 record at the midpoint of the season. Of those teams the average final record is 6-10 and just 13 made it to the postseason. Five of those 13 made it past the wildcard round and only the 1996 Jacksonville Jaguars advanced to the conference championship. The Jags bowed to the Patriots in that AFC title tilt and needless to say, the odds are firmly stacked against the Cowboys.
But let’s also understand that someone always wins the lottery, despite astronomic odds, and according to top-notch online sportsbooks, of the 15 teams still alive in the playoff hunt, Dallas is listed in the middle of the pack at +2500 to win the Super Bowl. It sure beats playing Powerball.