UNLIKE LAST YEAR, DECEMBER WILL PROVE CRITICAL FOR COWBOYS

By mark rogers
November 28, 2011

After a 2-3 start which saw two disgusting, double-digit leads disappear and a near victory over an 8-3 Patriots team, Dallas has reeled off four straight wins and, with a win over a struggling Arizona Cardinals team this Sunday, is poised to be 8-4 heading into the final quarter of the season.

I'm not saying the Cardinals will be a cake walk - they've won 3 out of 4 after a six game losing skid - but it's definitely a winnable game.And other than the Eagles debacle, Dallas has played rather well on the road this year. By the way, this "hot" streak the Cardinals are on? They beat the Eagles (4-7) and the Rams (2-9) twice...scary.

But let's not get ahead of ourselves. Dallas is 7-4 with five games left. Those games are against Arizona, NYG (2), Tampa Bay, and the Eagles. Three wins in that stretch would put Dallas at 10-6 and in a position to make the playoffs as the NFC East champs.

To break it down further, if Dallas splits the games against the Giants, beats the Cardinals and can either beat the Eagles or Bucs (4-7), there's your 10 wins.

Not out of the question.

A preliminary playoff scenario has the Packers and 49ers earning first round byes. Green Bay is 11-0 and playing ridiculously good football right now.

San Francisco's remaining five games are against St. Louis (2), Seattle, Arizona and Pittsburgh. Take the Steelers out of the equation, and the 49ers remaining opponents have a combined record of 10-23 (.303)...impressive.

So possible Wild Card opponents for Dallas could be New Orleans, Atlanta, Detroit, Chicago, or the Giants. Then it'd either be GB or SF in the Divisional.

Tonight's game between New Orleans and the Giants is important because if NO wins, they'll have a lone grasp of the 3 seed and Dallas would be out of that pesky tie with New York. But if the Giants win, the NFC would have a log jam with six teams sitting at 7-4. I don't like log jams...too much can happen...too many scenarios. Makes me nervous.

I do, however, like the looks of the Giants' remaining schedule: New Orleans (7-3) tonight, Green Bay (11-0), Dallas (7-4), Washington (4-7), NYJ (6-5), then Dallas again...that's a tough stretch.

All that to say, Dallas has five games left and of the remaining opponents, only the Giants have a winning record.

Should we win the division? Yes. If we don't could we still be in contention for a Wild Card spot? Absolutely. If we end up not making the playoffs, will the rest of my hair fall out? You betcha.

This should be an interesting December. At least it actually means something. Remember last year when December had turned into an extended Jason Garrett job interview? I've tried to forget...

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