Will the Cowboys win their next three games?
Cowboys will make a run
IRVING, Texas -- Call me a sucker, call me whatever you want, but I think this is where the Cowboys make their run to a possible playoff appearance. And remember I said a possible playoff appearance, not a definitive playoff appearance.
This is what they do.
Tony Romo is 20-3 as a starter in November since 2006. He has not turned the ball over in back-to-back games for the first time this season.
The Cowboys made their November run last year with a four-game winning streak against bad teams in Seattle, Buffalo, Washington and Miami. Entering December, they were 7-4 and atop the NFC East.
Then came December.
Starting Sunday against Cleveland, the Cowboys' next three opponents have a combined 8-19 record with the Browns, Redskins and Eagles all visiting Cowboys Stadium. If the big yard in Arlington is ever going to provide a home-field advantage for the Cowboys, this is the time.
And the Cowboys will probably be seeing three rookie quarterbacks in Brandon Weeden, Robert Griffin III and Nick Foles. (Quick aside: Was watching Foles play quarterback for Philly on Sunday reminiscent of Stephen McGee to everybody else?)
I hesitate to call RG3 a rookie because of how well he's played, but the Redskins have lost three in a row. He can't do it all himself but, to me, that Thanksgiving matchup will be the most difficult game in this run. The Cowboys have won six of their last seven against Washington, but five of those wins have come by a total of 13 points. Don't expect anything different this year.
The Eagles could be an even bigger mess by the time they come to Arlington on Dec. 2. Does Andy Reid give the job back to Michael Vick if the quarterback is over his concussion? Will the Eagles stay in it as a team with Reid's future seemingly set?
There are no such guarantees in a week-to-week league, which the Cowboys seem to understand, but they have a real opportunity here.
By the time the New York Giants play again (against the Green Bay Packers on Nov. 25), the Cowboys could be 6-5 and just a half-game back in the East. It's quite possible the Cowboys could be tied for the division lead going into December.
And that's where you have to look at history again.
Thankfully this question is only about winning the next three games, not about making the playoffs.
Homestand offers no guarantees
Let's be honest: The Cowboys don't have the best home record in the league. They are just 14-13 at Cowboys Stadium since it opened in 2009. It's not exactly the most imposing place in the NFL.
It's a sad state of affairs when you have to send emails to your season-ticket holders reminding them to cheer. To the fans' and Cowboys' credit, they responded.
The fans won't have as much of an impact as we think in the next three weeks. Cleveland, Washington and Philadelphia are three opponents the Cowboys need to beat to maintain relevancy in the NFC playoff picture.
The Cowboys won't sweep them. Should Dallas beat Cleveland on Sunday? Of course. But predicting the next two outcomes isn't as simple.
Say what you will about Washington's record; the Cowboys are not guaranteed an easy Thanksgiving Day. Robert Griffin III is a dynamic player who is healthy and makes plays with his legs and arm. The Redskins defense isn't very good, especially with all the injuries it's suffered this season. But it's not as if the Cowboys offense is lighting up opponents.
Redskins coach Mike Shanahan created a stir a few weeks ago when he said playing younger players would become a priority. It angered the fan base, and Shanahan has changed his tune because he now sees how open the NFC East division is. The Redskins are a long shot to win the division, but they're not quitting on the season.
As for the Eagles, there are no guarantees there either. Yes, the Cowboys beat them last Sunday at The Linc. But did you think the Cowboys were dominant? If you did, watch the game again. The Cowboys offense scored just 17 points and the defense had to close the deal -- something it hasn't done on a consistent basis.
We're not saying the Cowboys are going to get swept by the Redskins and Eagles but to flip it and say those games are easy for Dallas isn't fair -- at least not right now with the offense still not where it's supposed to be and the defense needing to make more plays.
And besides, Cowboys Stadium is a nice place. We call it a palace, but it's not a place that scares NFL teams. Just ask the New York Giants.
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