Random thoughts: Can Cowboys win out?

November, 28, 2011
11/28/11
8:00
AM ET
After a weekend of games we've gathered some thoughts on the Cowboys.

Enjoy.

1. Wade Phillips is having a better defensive year than Rob Ryan. The Texans (8-3) are poised to win the AFC South. During their five-game win streak, the Texans defense has allowed just five touchdowns. Phillips has always been considered a better defensive coordinator than head coach. This is nothing against Ryan, but we expect DeMarcus Ware (14 sacks) to be good. Ryan, however, has improved the play of Sean Lee and Gerald Sensabaugh. He made the right decision to give reduced playing time to Bradie James and Keith Brooking to get Lee on the field full-time. Overall, Phillips' defense is one of the main reasons why the Texans are where they are, but we still have questions about Ryan's defense heading into December.

2. The 2011 Eagles reminds us of the 2008 Cowboys -- so much hype but little chemistry on-and-off the field. It didn't cost Wade Phillips his job. Instead he made numerous changes in the offseason that worked in 2009. The Cowboys won the division, their first playoff game in years and raised the expectations for 2010. Andy Reid is under fire at this stage, but he should survive at least for one more season. If Phillips did in 2008, then Reid should in 2011.

3. It's interesting to see the Cowboys return game struggle with a month to play in the season. The Cowboys wanted Dez Bryant to return punts, but a thigh injury in Week 1 put an end to that on a regular basis. You saw what Bryant can do when he returned that punt 20 yards in the fourth quarter on Thanksgiving Day vs. the Dolphins. The Cowboys need to keep him on the field as much as possible, especially now with the division title in their grasp.

4. The Cowboys miss fullback Tony Fiammetta, but the play of tight end John Phillips at that spot is good. He's a different type of blocker, and the fact the Cowboys rushed for 89 yards vs. Washington and 85 vs. Miami when both teams were designed to stop the run tells you things are pretty good. Fiammetta's return is uncertain, but Phillips is doing fine. Once Felix Jones gets into the swing of things with runs off the edge, the run game should be hard to stop the last five weeks.

5. Is it possible the Cowboys might run the table to finish the regular season in December/January? Every game is a winnable, including the finale at the New York Giants on New Year's Day. The Cowboys finished December/January with a 3-2 mark in 2009 en route to the team's first playoff victory since the 1996 season. By the way, the Cowboys last swept December/January in 1993, going 5-0 as part of a 12-4 finish and a Super Bowl win, the second under Jimmy Johnson.
Calvin Watkins joined ESPNDallas.com in September 2009. He's covered the Cowboys since 2006 and also has covered colleges, boxing and high school sports.

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