FRISCO, Texas — It’s a simple question without a simple answer: When will the Dallas Cowboys win again?
According to ESPN’s Football Power Index, it will not happen until 2021.
The Cowboys (2-5) are not favored to win any of their games for the rest of the season. In fact, their best chances to win are against the Washington Football Team on Thanksgiving and at the New York Giants in Week 17. FPI gives them a 43% chance of winning each of those games.
The Philadelphia Eagles are atop the NFC East with a 2-4-1 record, and the Cowboys are given a 27% chance of winning Sunday’s matchup (8:20 p.m. ET, NBC).
In addition to the Giants, the Cowboys play two more games against teams with one win through Week 7. Dallas has a 31% chance to beat the Minnesota Vikings (1-5) on Nov. 22 and a 38% chance of beating the Cincinnati Bengals (1-5-1) on Dec. 13.
The lowest odds of winning for the Cowboys? Try at the Baltimore Ravens on Dec. 3 at 12%.
The Cowboys aren’t worrying about anything other than a win Sunday at Philadelphia. Theoretically, they could be back in first place in the division with a win against the Eagles. That’s how bad the NFC East is.
“These are moments that we can gain great benefit from in the future if we go through these times the right way and make sure we’re accountable and we apply it to everything we do moving down the road,” Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy said.
This has been a season of turmoil in Dallas.
Injuries have been costly. Quarterback Dak Prescott is out for the season with a right ankle injury. Tackles Tyron Smith and La’el Collins are out for the year because of neck and hip surgeries, respectively. Tight end Blake Jarwin is done because of a knee injury he suffered in the season opener.
The defense has lost key players but only defensive tackle Trysten Hill is out for the season. Linebacker Leighton Vander Esch (collarbone) has played the past two games. Cornerback Chidobe Awuzie is expected back this week from a hamstring strain. Linebacker Sean Lee (pelvis) is closing in on his season debut.
From Mike McCarthy to Ezekiel Elliott, Stephen A. Smith pinpoints problems that are causing the Cowboys’ on-field struggles.
But will it all matter? Things are fraying, if they haven’t been frayed already.
So far this season, defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence has called the defense “soft” after allowing 307 yards rushing in a Week 4 loss to the Cleveland Browns and said the team needs to “build a stronger backbone” after the loss to Washington last week. Starting safety Xavier Woods has said it is not reasonable to expect an all-out effort on every single play. McCarthy has had to deal with anonymous quotes ripping the coaching staff. Against Washington, McCarthy questioned his team’s wherewithal when nobody came to the defense of Andy Dalton after the quarterback took a vicious hit from Jon Bostic.
“Your expectation is to win week to week,” McCarthy said. “I truly understand how the business works and the preseason questions about how you think your team is going to be. I’m an optimist. I have great ambition every year. I feel there is a path to victory for every football team. So every team is dealt challenges. Obviously every team’s challenges are different. Injuries are a big part of our challenge right now, but with that it’s an opportunity for a lot of players. There’s lot of players that have opportunity and frankly some are not taking advantage of it and some are taking advantage of it.
“But as a coaching staff we need to make sure we’re taking full advantage of it because this thing, we’re trying to build something special for the long run here.”
In 2010, the Cowboys were 1-7 at the midway point, owner and general manager Jerry Jones fired coach Wade Phillips and the Cowboys finished 6-10 under interim coach Jason Garrett. The last time the Cowboys were 2-5 came in 2015, when they finished 4-12. Aside from Jones’ first year as owner and general manager in 1989 when the Cowboys finished 1-15, that season was the low point.
At least the Cowboys already have two wins this season. There are nine more opportunities for success or nine more opportunities for doom and gloom.
But the question remains: When will the Cowboys get their third?