The Dallas Cowboys are coming off their bye week, and not much changed in the landscape of the NFC East. Despite being in last place in the division, the Cowboys are just one victory shy of being tied with the New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles with three wins apiece.
If the Cowboys win and the Eagles lose on Sunday, the race for the NFC East and the playoffs gets very interesting. No team in the division has played well enough to be considered a contender, but someone has to come out on top and the victor will be set up nicely with a home playoff game.
This Sunday might not tell the story of who wins the East, but the next two games for the Cowboys might reveal which direction they’re heading. Dallas goes on the road to play the Minnesota Vikings for their next game on Sunday and then hosts their traditional Thanksgiving Day contest on November 26, which is against the rival Washington Football Team this year.
The annual two games in a five-day stretch is a grind for the team, but having the bye week just before this part of the schedule benefits the Cowboys. It also helps that the Vikings are coming off an NFC North battle on Monday night, so they likely won’t be as fresh as Dallas as those divisional games tend to take more out of teams.
If the Cowboys want to win the NFC East, and make the postseason, the time to start playing better is now. The opportunity for the Cowboys is right in front of them and the next two games are crucial to finding out the paths available to them. Win both games and the Cowboys would be 4-7 and in the thick of the divisional race.
If the team can get back-to-back wins for the first time all season, things would be looking up. The Cowboys only play one team with a winning record in their remaining five games after Thanksgiving and they still play the Giants and Eagles each one more time.
It hasn’t been a fun year for the franchise through nine games, but it’s the last seven that could define how 2020 is remembered. The two biggest games of the season are upcoming and Dallas has had two weeks to prepare and plan for them.
There surely is a contingent of Cowboys fans that don’t want to see Dallas make a run at the NFC East title with a sub-.500 record. Having a better draft pick and avoiding a first-place schedule next year is a sensible take, but the organization doesn’t see it the same way.
Players and coaches want to win, and when there’s still life in a season, they’ll do what they can to make the playoffs until they have been officially eliminated from consideration.
We’re about to find out what these Cowboys are made of. Do they continue to fight, the way they have the past two games, even though both contests ended with losses, or do they revert back to the lackluster performances from earlier in the season?
The NFC East can still be had as no team has come close to running away with it. Can the Cowboys find their way over the next two games to put themselves into position to actually make a run at the playoffs? It might not make draft aficionados happy, but the first goal of the team can still be achieved. The Cowboys have a realistic chance of winning the division and the postseason berth that comes with it and they owe it to themselves to play to their outs.
If the Dallas Cowboys have any shot at winning the NFC East, they will likely need to come away with wins in each of their upcoming contests. Win both and the race is on for an attainable division title and a path to the playoffs. Lose them both and it will probably be time to prepare for the 2021 NFL Draft and accept that 2020 wasn’t your year.
At this point, the worst thing that the Cowboys can do is split these next two games, which doesn’t get them any closer to the NFC East title and ruins their draft position. That would be very Cowboys-esque in 2020, however. Before November comes to an end, the Cowboys need to have a clear idea of what they’re playing for.
The fate of the season is on the line for the Cowboys over the next ten days. Buckle up!
Do you think that, with the week of rest, the Cowboys will be able to bounce back beginning on Sunday? Share your thoughts with Ben on Twitter @BenGrimaldi.