Despite a valiant effort, the Dallas Cowboys once again fell short to a superior team and now have just one path left to get into the playoffs.
The Dallas Cowboys went toe-to-toe with the best team in the NFL over the last century Sunday. The reason for their latest failure can be whatever you choose. Maybe it was the weather, or the coaching decisions, or even some horrible officiating.
Whatever the reason, the scoreboard showed more points for New England than Dallas. The latest loss puts the Dallas Cowboys at 6-5 on the year and effectively shut all paths to the postseason besides one.
Currently, the two wild-card spots in the NFC are owned by the 9-2 Seattle Seahawks and the 8-3 Minnesota Vikings. Minnesota has already beat Dallas head-to-head. The Seahawks, meanwhile, are 6-1 in the NFC, two games better than Dallas with a three-game overall lead.
So here are the Cowboys, needing to win the NFC East in order to play in January. Their only hurdle, besides themselves, is the Philadelphia Eagles.
With five games remaining for each, the Dallas Cowboys have a slight edge over Philadelphia. Owning a one-game lead is extremely crucial. The Eagles have a far more easy road, with two games against New York Giants, one against Washington and one against Miami. None of those teams have more than two wins.
The Cowboys face off against the 8-3 Buffalo Bills in just two days from now. After that, they have games against the Bears and Rams to go along with their divisional games against Washington and Philadelphia.
Here’s the good news about what appears to be a very daunting task. Due to the previous victory of Philadelphia and the one-game lead, Dallas only needs to handle business against the Redskins, win one of the two games between Chicago and Los Angeles and beat Philadelphia.
Yes, this is the lowered expectations that the Dallas Cowboys have set for themselves. That is what happens when you lose four games by a total of twelve points. The expectations need to be lowered when you turn the ball over seven times in your last five games. This is what you play for when your head coach is ultra-conservative.
Truth be told, no team with a quarterback like Dak Prescott, who would be in the MVP discussions if the Cowboys owned a better record, should be in this position. With running back Ezekiel Elliott, receiver Amari Cooper and an offensive line all contributing to one of the best offenses in the league, six wins seems like a huge disappointment.
Yet and still, a path exists to the playoffs. Maybe the Dallas Cowboys can take it and find their true selves when it matters.