Dallas Cowboys falling backwards into NFC East title

ARLINGTON, TEXAS - NOVEMBER 28: Dak Prescott #4 of the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium on November 28, 2019 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TEXAS - NOVEMBER 28: Dak Prescott #4 of the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium on November 28, 2019 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /

It appears that no one wants to win the NFC East division title this season. But the Dallas Cowboys are falling backwards into the honor, holding meekly onto a one-game lead.

No one wants to win the NFC East. Entering Week 14, the Dallas Cowboys hold a one-game lead over the Philadelphia Eagles. Entering Week 13, they held the same lead. Dallas then lost to Buffalo at home on Thanksgiving. Philadelphia lost to the previous joke of the league, the Miami Dolphins. Entering Week 12, they held the same lead as well. The Cowboys lost a tough one to New England. Philly lost a tough one to Seattle.

Neither of the NFC East contenders has won a game since Week 11. That’s when Dallas took its one-game lead. The Eagles haven’t won a game since Week 9.

This wouldn’t be quite so sad if either of the other teams in the division were any good. Neither is. New York and Washington are in contention for top pick in the 2020 NFL Draft instead. Who will win the NFC East? Dallas is falling backwards into the honor.

Two brothers from New York, Dan Salem and Todd Salem, debate the Dallas Cowboys in today’s NFL Sports Debate.

Todd Salem:

As if the “competition” for the NFC East wasn’t bad enough, to make matters worse, one of Dallas or Philadelphia is guaranteed to make the playoffs, at whatever record they finish with, perhaps over a 9- or 10-win Wild Card hopeful. Just imagine both teams losing out and tying in their Week 16 matchup against one another. We would then see 6-9-1 Dallas hosting a playoff game in Round 1.

Dallas has had a tougher go of things in recent weeks in terms of quality of opponent. There is no shame in losing to Buffalo, New England or Minnesota: the team’s three losses in November. In fact, five of Dallas’ six losses came against current playoff teams.

The problem is, the team has beaten zero playoff hopefuls. The Cowboys are 6-1 against losing teams (including a win over Philadelphia) and 0-5 against winning teams. That doesn’t represent the resume of a true playoff contender, though it might be enough in the NFC East.

The Cowboys’ remaining schedule, outside of the Eagles rematch, has them facing Chicago, the Rams and Washington. None of the three is likely to make the postseason based on the current standings. The Rams have the best chance and are still two full games behind the second Wild Card spot. So Dallas has the inside track at the postseason and will finish the year with zero wins over playoff teams.

Philly’s resume isn’t so cut-and-dry. It has two quality wins and a third win over 6-6 Chicago. It also has three very bad losses, including this past week against Miami. Philadelphia also lost to Atlanta and Detroit earlier in the year. That would seem to imply the Eagles have a higher ceiling yet a lower floor than Dallas.

The road to the finish is also easier for Philly, which is good because it still has to make up one game in the standings. The Eagles only face the NFC East the rest of the way: two against the Giants, one against Washington, and the Dallas game.

Ordinarily, it would be fair to say Philadelphia will go, at worst, 3-1 the rest of the way. But for a team that just lost to Miami and couldn’t generate any offense either of the previous two weeks, we can’t assume any amount of wins.

I think Dallas is the better team in this instance. It has the game lead to boot. I would guess that the Cowboys win the division. At this point, it’s nothing more than a guess though. No one should feel more confident than that in either of these squads.

Dan Salem:

What if Washington manages to keep on winning? The Redskins would defeat Philadelphia and Dallas along the way, ending with the same number of wins or better. Keep in mind that Washington has won three games, but are only three games behind the division leader. If a losing record wins the NFC East, then why not the Redskins?

Nothing would surprise me at this point of the season. Philadelphia has lost all of its offensive spark. Dallas is feeling the pressure of coming up short week after week. Jason Garrett is on the coaching hot seat. Carson Wentz is on the quarterback hot seat. The only team without any pressure in the NFC East is Washington, because they already fired their coach and have a rookie quarterback with low expectations.

New York managed to play itself out of this conversation, despite having the best running back and most exciting quarterback. They too are feeling the pressure, but it only matters to the Giants themselves.

It would be shocking if Washington did anything but lose to Green Bay this week. However, their final three games are against the NFC East. Assume for a moment they finish 6-10 on the season. Dallas probably finishes 7-9 at worst this year, with the Eagles likely getting to 6-10, if not better. But I would pick New York to beat Philadelphia this week, as well as Chicago to beat Dallas. Long losing streaks are hard to shake.

Next. NFL Picks and Score Predictions for Week 14. dark

My prediction is that Dallas wins the NFC East with a record of 8-8 and little controversy. The two Wild Card teams will have double-digit win totals, but only one team has a real shot at missing the playoffs with nine wins. Los Angeles needs to beat the Cowboys to be in such a position, not that it matters.

In classic Dallas fashion, they will fall backwards into the playoffs and Garrett will keep his job because they didn’t completely stink. Losing in round one to Seattle or Minnesota won’t get him fired, because both are significantly better teams. Expect more of the same next season.