Cowboys still in Division hunt despite starting off slow

Posted: October 18, 2011 in Dallas Cowboys, NFL

By Chris Bates

    The Dallas Cowboys had a chance to do something that no other team has done since 2006, defeat Tom Brady and the Patriots at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts.  Dallas had a 16-13 lead late in the 4th quarter with 2:37 remaining but once again coughed up the lead as Brady and the Pats drove down the field and scored the game winning touchdown with 29 seconds left.  The victory gave the combo of quarterback Tom Brady and head coach Bill Belichick their 116th win together, tieing Don Shula and Dan Marino for most in NFL history.

Where does Dallas go from here?

      Despite the loss, the Cowboys are still in good shape to win the NFC East as no team is running away with the division.  The Giants lead the division at 4-2, their 8th consecutive year they have had a winning record through the first 6 games of the season.  The Cowboys have played 5 games that have been decided by a combined 16 points.  Their 3 losses by a combined 11 points with 3 fourth quarter leads to the Jets, Lions and Patriots having disappeared.  The first 5 opponents for the Cowboys have a combined record of 21-8, the remaining 11 are a combined 4-13 so it gets easier for Dallas.  This week the Cowboys face the winless St. Louis Rams who will most likely be without starting quarterback Sam Bradford who suffered a high ankle sprain two weeks ago versus the Packers.  Bradford has been in a walking boot, look for backup quarterback A.J. Feeley to get the bulk of the snaps with the first team offense in practice this week.  The Cowboys have some injury news of their own with running back Felix Jones also suffering a high ankle sprain against the Patriots.  He is expected to miss 2-4 weeks.  For Cowboy fans, this is not the news they were hoping to hear.  Jones has been bitten by the injury bug numerous times since being drafted in the 1st round in 2008 out of Arkansas.  This now gives this year’s 3rd round pick out of Oklahoma, DeMarco Murray, a chance to prove that he is NFL starting running back caliber.  After this week, the Cowboys face Michael Vick and the Eagles who are coming off a bye and a division road win at Washington.

Season Prediction

      Despite the Cowboys slow start, I believe (with execution down the stretch) that they can win 11 games this season.  Making the playoffs is not out of the picture for this team.  They have the talent and are clearly better than last season.  Defensive Coordinator Rob Ryan has done a great job turning around this defense, taking it from the worst defense in Cowboys history to #4 in total defense going into the New England game.  Better play calling on the coaches part at the end of games and better decision making by Tony Romo will go a long way into what the Cowboys do this season.  My prediction for this season is a 10-6 record with a playoff berth.  I think the Cowboys will advance to the divisional round (2nd round) of the playoffs where they will come up just short.


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