Cowboys only good for eight wins
Jerry Jones has some talented players on his roster.
That's a good thing.
The bad thing is that the Dallas Cowboys just aren't good enough to compete with the rest of the league at an elite level.
What does that mean?
Winning eight games is all this team is worth.
Since 2010, the Cowboys have lost 11 games by fewer than three points, the second-most in the NFL.
The Cowboys' record over the last two seasons under Jason Garrett is 20-20. In a division as bad as the NFC East is right now, it's hard to believe the Cowboys will produce more than eight wins in 2013.
You can blame any number of people for this, but when the Cowboys get on the field, they're not capable of doing anything but disappointing their fans against winning teams.
This win-one, lose-one pattern the team has been stuck in is frustrating to both the fans and the players inside the locker room.
Sean Lee said after the loss to the Lions that 8-8 is all the Cowboys are ever going to be if they don't start winning games like Sunday's in Detroit.
It was a game the Cowboys were supposed to win, but couldn't when the defense failed to stop the Lions.
Think about the Cowboys' loss to the Denver Broncos in early October. It was a game the Cowboys had no business winning, but they controlled their own fate late in the game at AT&T Stadium.
Denver ended up winning, 51-48.
Jones talked about moral victories because of the numbers that Peyton Manning is putting up. Jones didn't talk about such things after the loss to the Lions.
Over the next two months, the Cowboys face several teams with playoff hopes and three divisional opponents who have no business playing in January.
The Cowboys have a chance to emerge with the NFC East division title, which would likely make them the fourth seed in the NFC playoffs and give them a home playoff game against possibly San Francisco, Seattle, Detroit or Carolina.
How many wins will the Cowboys have going into that contest?
That's all they're good for.
Cowboys will top .500 in weak East
Call me an optimist. Call me foolish. Call me worse than that. But the Dallas Cowboys will finish 9-7 and win the NFC East.
There, I said it.
Like Jason Garrett does following each game -- either a gritty, beat-the-odds win or a gut-punching loss -- I am taking the emotion out of the decision. I counted to 10 and played a simple game of math.
In the Cowboys' final eight games of the season they play only three teams that currently own a winning record (New Orleans Saints, Chicago Bears, Green Bay Packers). The Bears might drop to .500 after this week because they play at Lambeau Field.
The one-win Minnesota Vikings come to AT&T Stadium on Sunday. Whether it's Christian Ponder, Josh Freeman or Matt Cassel at quarterback, it shouldn't matter. It's when the Cowboys play high-level passers in which they struggle.
Peyton Manning, Eli Manning, Philip Rivers and Matthew Stafford have all lit the Cowboys up for more than 400 yards. The Ponder-Freeman-Cassel trio is not even close to that category. Neither is Terrelle Pryor, the quarterback of the Raiders, who visit AT&T Stadium on Thanksgiving. Pryor is a threat to run the ball all over the field, but he's not a gifted passer yet and has limited receiver help.
That's six wins if we want to call the Saints and Packers games losses at this point. The Bears game is a toss-up even at Soldier Field, but if Jay Cutler is healthy and rolling with Brandon Marshall, then that would give Chicago the edge.
So now we're down to the three division games against the Philadelphia Eagles, Washington Redskins and New York Giants. The Eagles' quarterback situation is a mess. The Redskins looked like they were starting to figure things out a little bit, but Robert Griffin III has not been the same quarterback this year as he was as a rookie. The Giants are off the mat with back-to-back wins and it's hard to discount their past, but they are one more loss away from needing a miracle.
Sweeping the NFC East is never easy, but sweeping it in a year like this year does not look so hard, either.
The Cowboys' four losses have been by a combined 14 points. The rest of the division has losses of 18, 38, 24, 15, 32, 14, 18, 15 and 24 points.
The NFC East is there for the Cowboys to take. So are nine wins.
Now if it doesn't happen, please delete this post from your history.
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ESPN NFL analyst Ron Jaworski weighs in on the Cowboys' leadership, the Patriots' offensive potential, Michael Vick's future, which team will win the NFC East and more.