After Sunday night’s sadly heart-racing match-up, the Dallas Cowboys look forward to a better team in this week’s duel. The Cincinnati Bengals have been red hot lately, winning their last four straight, and it should be noted that if the Bengals were in the NFC, they would be tied for the sixth slot for the wild-card race. The Chicago Bears (8-4) and the Seattle Seahawks (7-5) lead the NFC wild-card race. The Seahawks have a fairly soft remaining schedule: three of their next four games are against the Cardinals, Bills and Rams (the 49ers being the other). If the Dallas Cowboys don’t win this game, they will need to win the NFC East to make the playoffs. Even if they win out, the Bears and Seahawks would have to get upset by either the Rams, Bills or Cardinals, which seems unlikely. What is more likely to happen is that the Cowboys go 9-7 or 8-8, miss the playoffs and get a mediocre draft slot in the low teens that doesn’t produce an impact player. Still, with a little luck, even though I don’t find it likely and I’m not even sure its in the best interest in the team long-term, your 2012 Dallas Cowboys could actually end up in the playoffs.
News and Notes:
1. The Cowboys won a thriller against the hated Philadelphia Eagles. This essentially is an excuse to link to our excellent drive-by-drive recap of the game last night. Enjoy!
2. Somehow, a Dallas Cowboys running back finally runs for more than 80 yards. Every week I’ve been calling for an improved rushing attack, no matter which NFL defense the Cowboys were facing; I was wrong each and every time. This week, with RB Demarco Murray back after sitting out 6 weeks with an ankle injury (which doesn’t seem totally healed), the Cowboys actually managed to mount some semblance of a running game and stay ‘semi-committed’ to running the ball for 4 quarters.
Felix Jones hadn’t cracked the 80 yard mark since mid-October, and he had only scored one rushing touchdown in five games. Having DeMarco Murray back also helps mitigate a defense effective against the run and pass (they rank 11th in yards per game in both categories.) The Cowboys rushing attack was also helped against the Eagles by a reduction, although not total elimination, of pre-snap penalties that put them into long yardage situations.
I won’t predict how many yards Dallas Cowboys DeMarco Murray will rush for against the Cincinnati Bengals because I seem to have an innate ability to suck at it, but unless your running back situation is really dire, I would keep him as a solid bench option in fantasy leagues.
3. The Cincinnati Bengals have all of their starters healthy. Unlike last week when the Eagles were without many of their highest paid starters (QB Michael Vick, WR DeSean Jackson, and RB LeSean McCoy), the Bengals enter week 14 with almost an entire team that is healthy. Bengals RB Cedrick Peerman, who has actually been pretty good this year as a backup, is questionable, but Benjarvus Green-Ellis is healthy so it won’t matter that much even if he can’t play.
The Cowboys lose 27-21. Given the potential for the Dallas Cowboys to miss the playoffs, or get knocked out in the 1st round, losing to the Bengals might be for the best for the franchise’s long term well-being. But I already explained that in detail last week, so I’ll just move on. Basically, the Bengals are a better team, and they are playing as healthy as possible at home, and they are on a streak with lots to play for. In some ways, both the Dallas Cowboys and the Cincinnati Bengals have something to play for, and both are fairly decent teams, but even an “eye test” from a casual fan shows that this years’ Cowboys aren’t up to snuff. I’m not saying that it’s impossible for them to win, but it’s also not impossible for Jason Garrett to keep his job if you know what I mean.