Cowboys Playoff Hopes are Still Alive. Spoiler Alert: “Play in Game” Ahead


At 8-4 and 2-2 in the division, could Dallas still win their division?
Yes it’s possible (so you’re sayin’ there’s a chance!) but with a 3-0 division record including a win over Dallas, the NFC East will be for the Eagles to lose. While Dallas could win the division with lots of help, I don’t look for it to happen as I consider them currently playing in the wildcard pool for the rest of the season.

Wilcard Picture
The NFC has two wildcard spots available and I look for one of them to go to the NFC North in either the Lions or Packers. I believe the Packers are likely to win that division and then I look for the Lions to take the first wildcard spot. With games remaining against the Bucs, Vikings and Bears, I look for the (8-4) Lions to finish with 11 wins. (Assuming they lose their next meeting with the Packers.)

That would leave the 49ers, Seahawks and Cowboys in a battle for that final wildcard position.

Tie Breakers:
If the Cowboys end the season tied with the Seahawks, the Cowboys would get the wildcard spot because of their win in Seattle. However if they end the season tied with the 49ers, the 49ers would have the edge because of a win over Dallas in week one. Seattle defeating the 49ers on Thanksgiving night, helped the Cowboys chances in my view.

A Look at the three team race:
Seahawks: Remaining schedule has them playing Eagles, 49ers, Cardinals and Rams. That’s not an easy schedule but I think the 8-4 Seahawks can win their two home games (49ers and Rams) to finish with 10 wins.

49ers remaining schedule has them playing Raiders, Seahawks, Chargers and Cardinals. I think the 7-5 49ers will win 2 of those games (Raiders and Chargers) which means they would end the season with 9 wins.

Cowboys remaining schedule has them playing Bears, Eagles, Colts and Redskins. So far Dallas has been undefeated on the road, which actually makes me like their chances of winning at the Bears and at Redskins. That means they would finish with 10 wins potentially in a tie with the Seahawks who they happen to hold the tie breaker over. That win in Seattle could pay off big for Dallas eventually.

Bottom Line: To make the post season, I think Dallas will need to win at least two of their final four games. Winning three would almost guarantee a spot in the post season while just winning one would almost guarantee them missing. If they get 10 wins, their win earlier against the Seahawks may come into play.

Another dreaded “play in” game in their future?
Yes I think so. While they haven’t gone the Cowboys way in recent history, I can easily picture that final game with the Redskins as a potential “win or season over” game for Dallas where they will need to win it to make the post season. There will likely be nothing at stake for the 3-8 Redskins except an opportunity to end the Cowboys season which they would enjoy and will try very hard to do.

Buckle up the NFL is going to be an interesting ride the next 4 weeks.

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2014 NFL POWER RANKINGS Week 13: Pats Move Into Top Spot

NFLTeams
Power ranking of all 32 NFL teams after week twelve.

The Twist: Each week the top 12 ranked teams will consist of 6 NFC teams and 6 AFC teams since 6 from each conference will qualify for the post season therefore indicating the top 12 teams most likely to currently make the playoffs. One NFC team and one AFC team occupy the top two spots to reflect who may end up in the super bowl. At least one team from each division is represented in the top 12.

TOP 12:
Same top two teams however the Patriots replace the Cardinals in the top spot after taking care of the Lions 34-9 while the Cardinals lost in Seattle. If the Pats, who have now won 7 straight, can secure home field throughout the playoffs, it will be tough to keep them out of the super bowl. Last year it was week 12 that I ranked the Seahawks and Broncos 1 and 2 and they went on to go to the super bowl.

The Lions drop out of the top 12 teams and are replaced by the 49ers who may have another strong finish in them like last year. Falcons stay in top 12? Hey someone has to win the NFC South even if no one deserves it. Right now the Falcons have as good of a chance to make the post season as any team in that weak division with a 4-0 division record.

Week 13 Change
1. Patriots (9-2) +1
2. Cardinals (9-2) -1
3. Broncos (8-3) 0
4. Packers (8-3) +1
5. Eagles (8-3) +1
6. Cowboys (8-3) +1
7. Colts (7-4) +2
8. Bengals (7-3-1) +2
9. 49ers (7-4) +5
10. Steelers (7-4) +1
11. Chiefs (7-4) -3
12. Falcons (4-7) 0
13. Seahawks (7-4) +3
14. Lions (7-4) -10
15. Browns (7-4) +1
16 Chargers (7-4) +1
17. Ravens (7-4) +1
18. Dolphins (6-5) -5
19. Bills (6-5) +1
20. Bears (5-6) +2
21. Texans (5-6) -2
22. Rams (4-7) -1
23. Vikings (4-7) 0
24. Saints (4-7) 0
25 Panthers (3-7-1) 0
26. Giants (3-8) 0
27. Bucs (2-9) 0
28. Redskins (3-8) 0
29. Jets (2-9) 0
30. Titans (2-9) 0
31. Jaguars (1-10) 0
32. Raiders (1-10) 0

2014 NFL POWER RANKINGS week 12: Cards Remain on Top Even With Backup QB.

NFLTeams

Power ranking of all 32 NFL teams after week eleven.

The Twist: Each week the top 12 ranked teams will consist of 6 NFC teams and 6 AFC teams since 6 from each conference will qualify for the post season therefore indicating the top 12 teams most likely to currently make the playoffs. One NFC team and one AFC team occupy the top two spots to reflect who may end up in the super bowl. At least one team from each division is represented in the top 12.

Why should anyone pay attention to my version of NFL rankings? Last year it was week 12 that I ranked the Seahawks and Broncos 1 and 2 and they went on to go to the super bowl.
2013 WEEK 12
TOP 12:
The red hot Packers move into the top 12 teams after destroying the Eagles Sunday but remain behind the Lions since the Lions beat the Pack earlier this season. The Packers replace the Seahawks who lost to the Chiefs and will struggle to make the post season it appears.

With that beat down Sunday, the Eagles are now tied with Dallas (bye week) at 7-3 however I rank the Eagles just slightly higher since they are 2-0 in the NFC East and Dallas is 1-1. That Redskin loss could haunt the Cowboys before it’s over with as they try to win the division. A huge show down with the Eagles coming on Thanksgiving day and an opportunity for Dallas to help themselves.

Week 12 Change
1. Cardinals (9-1) 0
2. Patriots (8-2) 0
3. Broncos (7-3) 0
4. Lions (7-3) 0
5. Packers (7-3) +8
6. Eagles (7-3) -1
7. Cowboys (7-3) -1
8. Chiefs (7-3) 0
9. Colts (6-4) -2
10. Bengals (6-3-1) +1
11. Steelers (7-4) +3
12. Falcons (4-6) +10
13. Dolphins (6-4) +5
14. 49ers (6-4) +1
15. Seahawks (6-4) -6
16 Browns (6-4) -6
17. Chargers (6-4) +2
18. Ravens (6-4) -2
19. Texans (5-5) +2
20. Bills (5-5) -3
21. Rams (4-6) +4
22. Bears (4-6) +5
23. Vikings (4-6) -3
24. Saints (4-6) -12
25 Panthers (3-7-1) -1
26. Giants (3-7) -3
27. Bucs (2-8) +3
28. Redskins (3-7) -2
29. Jets (2-8) 0
30. Titans (2-8) -2
31. Jaguars (1-9) 0
32. Raiders (0-10) 0

2014 NFL POWER RANKINGS WEEK 11: Browns crack the top 12.

NFLTeamsPower ranking of all 32 NFL teams after week ten play.

The Twist: Each week the top 12 ranked teams will consist of 6 NFC teams and 6 AFC teams since 6 from each conference will qualify for the post season therefore indicating the top 12 teams most likely to currently make the playoffs. One NFC team and one AFC team occupy the top two spots to reflect who may end up in the super bowl. At least one team from each division is represented in the top 12.

TOP 12:
After the Steelers suffered a surprising loss to the Jets, the Browns took care of the Bengals on Thursday night and replace the Steelers in the top 12. It’s hard to believe that the Browns are currently at the top of their division.

Week 11 Change
1. Cardinals (8-1) 0
2. Patriots (7-2) 0
3. Broncos (7-2) 0
4. Lions (7-2) 0
5. Eagles (7-2) 0
6. Cowboys (7-3) +3
7. Colts (6-3) +1
8. Chiefs (6-3) +3
9. Seahawks (6-3) +1
10. Browns (6-3) +9
11. Bengals (5-3-1) -5
12. Saints (4-5) 0
13. Packers (6-3) 0
14. Steelers (6-4) -7
15. 49ers (5-4) +1
16 Ravens (6-4) +1
17. Bills (5-4) -2
18. Dolphins (5-4) -4
19. Chargers (5-4) -1
20. Vikings (4-5) 0
21. Texans (4-5) 0
22. Falcons (3-6) +5
23. Giants (3-6) -1
24. Panthers (3-6-1) 0
25 Rams (3-6) -2
26. Redskins (3-6) 0
27. Bears (3-6) -2
28. Titans (2-7) 0
29. Jets (2-8) +2
30. Bucs (1-8) 0
31. Jaguars (1-9) -2
32. Raiders (0-9) 0

Sitting Romo May Be Smart Thing To Do in London

romo sack
The Dallas Cowboys are in London preparing for a game with the Jaguars Sunday.

The latest word is that Romo will attempt to practice Thursday and is still considering playing in the game Sunday. Owner Jerry Jones is still saying he expects Romo will be fine to play to any one that will listen to his nonsense or “rubbish” as the British would say. “I’m anticipating him playing, have no reason to think that he won’t, and this will be a nice little practice session for him out there today,” Jones said. “But my expectations are for him to play.”

A broken back sounds pretty serious to me but many experts (other than Jerry) indicate that it is not a real serious injury and many have played with a similar injury before. It would appear it is going to come down to how Romo feels in a couple days and if he thinks he can do it.

But shouldn’t the Cowboys be able to defeat the 1-8 Jaguars without their starting QB? I think most would agree that the best case scenario would be to sit Romo this game and win with their backup QB then take advantage of the bye week next week to rest allowing him to heal up for the challenging stretch run of the schedule ahead. Yes, I realize who our backup QB is.

Weeden played poorly against the Cardinals last week and I don’t get the feeling that there is much confidence in him from either the coaching staff or fans which is understandable. In that particular game, I thought the Cards came in with a very good game plan while the Cowboys on the other hand, didn’t have a solid plan to win with Weeden as their QB.

The Cards defensive coordinator Todd Bowles, a Bill Parcells under study, didn’t allow Murray to take over the game and was effective at defending the run holding Murray to less than 100 yards for the first time all season. I’m not going into great detail about that game here but let’s just sum it up to say, the Cardinals coaches coached the pants off the Cowboys coaches Sunday in my view.

We all know NFL seasons are long like a marathon not a sprint, which means a team will have to win a few without a starter every now and then. Just look at the Eagles last week after their starting QB Nick Foles went down with a shoulder injury during the game, Mark Sanchez stepped in and won the game going 15/22, 202 yards and 2 TDs. They even over came a couple picks too.

Yes the same Mark Sanchez the Jets were more than willing to unload to play a young, struggling Geno Smith and an over the hill Mike Vick at quarterback instead. If the Eagles can win a game against the Texans with Sanchez, then can’t Dallas win a game against the Jags with Weeden?

Pass protection for Weeden often could have been better last week but still even with time, Weeden appeared uncomfortable, unconfident, and had zero chemistry with WR Dez Bryant. In fact no Dallas WR had a single reception until well into the second half. Heck, it’s enough to make you want to roll Romo out there in a wheel chair in London and take your chances. And don’t put that past Jerry either! But is that really the smart thing to do?

A Little Monday Morning GM Diversion:
All of this should have been addressed in the off season by Jerry Jones himself. Kyle Orton had proven to be a capable back up for Romo, and he is currently having a good season in Buffalo by the way, in fact, he has a passer rating this season that is higher than Tony Romo’s. Did you realize that? But Orton had no interest in returning to Dallas. It seems he and Romo couldn’t get along. Not much detail has been provided as to why.

The Cowboys elected to not draft a QB including Johnny Football who was available in the first round. OK that’s fine don’t need the drama I get it. But Jerry knew Romo was coming off a back surgery so as GM, a good plan for a back up was required. A plan “B” needed in a big way when the starting QB has a weak back. Jerry’s answer was to sign a mediocre Brandon Weeden with a NFL track record that suggested no one should have had high expectations for him. A pedestrian career passer rating of 71. The same as Mark Sanchez incidentally.

As team GM, if Jerry didn’t think the coaches could manage to win a game every now and then with Weeden, then he shouldn’t have signed him to begin with. Weeden is surrounded by one of the better offensive lines in the NFL and one of the best wide receivers in Dez not to mention the NFL’s leading rusher, DeMarco Murray. It’s not like Weeden will be asked to win it on his own.

It would be wise to sit Romo this game and make sure he is ready to go down the important stretch run and it is time to find out if Weeden can help this team or not. A win against the Jags may help Weeden’s confidence which could pay off later in the season. Don’t assume Romo’s back troubles are over.

But if Weeden can’t get it done, then I guess Jerry can always call the Browns and see if they really want to keep that Johnny Football guy? Not like they are using him right now.

2014 NFL POWER RANKINGS WEEK 10: Cardinals Move to the Top

NFLTeamsA power ranking of all 32 NFL teams after week nine play.

The Twist: Each week the top 12 ranked teams will consist of 6 NFC teams and 6 AFC teams since 6 from each conference will qualify for the post season. Reflecting the top 12 teams most likely to make the playoffs. One NFC team and one AFC team occupy the top two spots to reflect who may end up in the super bowl. At least one team from each division is represented in the top 12.

TOP 12:

By defeating the Panthers, the Saints replace them in the top 12 since the Saints are now in first to win the worst division in the NFL, the NFC South.

The Seahawks are still alive and move back into the top 12 at the expense of the Packers who didn’t play this week. It’s an earlier victory over the Packers that gives the Seahawks the edge in a hunt for a wildcard spot.

The Cardinals take the top spot as they quietly take care of their business and are setting themselves up to be in good position in the playoffs. They appear to be a very well coached team.

And the Chargers tumble out of the top 12 down to 18 after losing their 3rd straight game in a 37-0 blow out to the Dolphins. The Chiefs who look much better now, take advantage and work their way into the top 12 teams.

Week 10 Change
1. Cardinals (7-1) +1
2. Patriots (7-2) +1
3. Broncos (6-2) -2
4. Lions (6-2) 0
5. Eagles (6-2) 0
6. Bengals (5-2-1) +2
7. Steelers (6-3) +2
8. Colts (6-3) +3
9. Cowboys (6-3) -3
10. Seahawks (5-3) +5
11. Chiefs (5-3) +5
12. Saints (4-4) +10
13. Packers (5-3) -3
14. Dolphins (5-3) +4
15. Bills (5-3) +2
16 49ers (4-4) -2
17. Ravens (5-4) -4
18. Chargers (5-4) -11
19. Browns (5-3) 0
20. Vikings (4-5) +5
21. Texans (4-5) -1
22. Giants (3-5) -1
23. Rams (3-5) +4
24. Panthers (3-5-1) -12
25. Bears (3-5) -2
26. Redskins (3-6) -2
27. Falcons (2-6) -1
28. Titans (2-6) 0
29. Jaguars (1-8) 0
30. Bucs (1-7) 0
31. Jets (1-8) 0
32. Raiders (0-8) 0

Dallas Cowboys Mid Term Progress Report.

NFLTeamsIt’s the half way point of the season for the Cowboys and they are at a surprising and respectable 6-2. A nice start for sure but an objective analysis of their performance reveals they are strong in some areas but have plenty areas that could use improvement and will need to get better for them to make the post season.

One of the Cowboys six wins came against a team with a winning record that being the Seahawks who moved to 4-3 by beating the Panthers last week. It was their best win so far this season without a doubt.

OFFENSE: Grade B+

Rushing game – EXCELLENT

DeMarco Murray has rushed for 100 yards in a record breaking eight straight games behind an offensive line whose strength is run blocking. This area is working and how they have won six games. It has helped dominate TOP minutes in most games and kept their defense off the field. Dallas ranks first in rushing in the NFL at 161 yards per game.

Passing game- Above Average

In passing yards the Cowboys rank 16 in the NFL but have an impressive 68 percent completion percentage. Establishing the run has helped make the passing game very efficient.

The Cowboys offense has scored 26 points a game which ranks 8th in the NFL.

Areas to improve on offense:

Pass Blocking: While the offensive line has been great in run blocking, their pass blocking could be better and must improve against blitzes as the Redskins exploited. Like to see the Cowboys run more screen passes to negate the pass rush. The Cowboys have allowed 17 sacks in 8 games.

Turnovers: The Cowboys offense has 6 interceptions and 7 fumbles for a total of 13 turnovers which puts them in the top 10 in the NFL in number of turnovers. Murray trying to fight for extra yards has led to fumbles and would appear to be an issue that seems simple enough to correct. Turnovers threaten to limit their success this season. Must get better.

DEFENSE: GRADE B- 

Pass Defense: Average

The Cowboys rank 18th in the NFL for yards passing allowed. On the other hand they have done a good job of coming up with interceptions with 8 for the season. They are allowing a generous completion percentage of 66%. At times the secondary has made plays but over all, too many yards allowed for teams though the air.

Run Defense: Average

The Cowboys defense has allowed 114 yards rushing a game which ranks a respectable 14th in the NFL. However the defense allows an average of 4.8 yards per carry which is at the top of the NFL in yards allowed per run. It represents an area that could use improvement.

Takeaways: Above Average 

The Cowboys have 13 takeaways for the season with 8 INTs and 5 fumbles recovered. That ranks above average in the NFL and it is helped make the defense look a little better than they probably are in reality.

The Dallas defense allows 20 points a game which is above average in the NFL.

Areas to Improve on defense:

Pass Rush: Dallas only has 10 sacks this season which ranks only 26th in the NFL. At times they have pressured with blitzes but this is an area that has a lot of room to improve. Down the stretch of the season, Dallas will need to get to opposing QBs more often to win games and with the return of rookie pass rusher Demarcus Lawrence, maybe help is on the way.

Special Teams:

Kicking: EXCELLENT

What can you say? Bailey is probably the best kicker in the NFL. MONEY.

Kick Returns: Average

The Cowboys are in the top 10 in KO returns but rank low in punt returns with just a 7 yard average. They will need a big play from kick returns to win a game or two down the stretch.

OVERALL Mid term GRADE: B

A very good start and the run game has been a difference maker. But entering a tougher part of the schedule, the offense must reduce turnovers while the defense needs to get to the QB more. Dwayne Harris is over due for a big return to help win a game.