Dallas Cowboys: Where they stand and what lies ahead

(Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
(Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images) /

After their Thanksgiving win over the New York Giants, the Dallas Cowboys are now sitting at 8-3 and have set the table nicely for the rest of the season .

It wasn’t always pretty but America’s Team broke their Thanksgiving Day losing streak by beating their long-time division foe with their last win coming in 2018 against the (then) Washington Redskins 31-26. The Cowboys are now 32-23 on Thanksgiving Day. And now Dallas gets a much-needed 10-day rest before they take on the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday Night Football.

What does the landscape look like for the Dallas Cowboys going forward and what do they need to do as they head into their last six games?

First and foremost, the Cowboys need to take their upcoming 10-day break to get healthy. Leading up to this week, the team had an illness sweep through the locker room leaving several players in doubt. This led Dallas to call up players such as Takk McKinley as the team was unsure which players wouldn’t be able to suit up.

On top of the illness sweeping through the locker room, injuries have been nagging several key players. Key players such as Trevon Diggs (ankle), Ezekiel Elliott (knee), DeMarcus Lawrence (foot), and Micah Parsons (knee/ankle).

The Cowboys couldn’t have asked for a better time to recoup on a mini-bye as they prepare for their playoff push.

Looking Ahead at the Dallas Cowboys’ Schedule

Sitting atop the NFC Wildcard race at 8-3, the Dallas Cowboys are keeping an eye on their remaining schedule. The Cowboys remaining opponents combine for a record of 30-30-2 with key matchups coming in their last three games against the Philadelphia Eagles, Tennessee Titans, and closing out the regular season at Landover against the Washington Commanders.

Dallas’ next three games should add to the win column as they face the Colts (4-6-1), Texans (1-8-1), and Jaguars (3-7). If they take care of business as expected, that would put them at 11-3 heading into a crucial matchup when they host the Eagles on Christmas Eve.

When they faceoff against Philadelphia on December 24th, it could very well be for the NFC East lead with the Eagles struggling over the last month. Sitting at 9-1, Philly faces Tennessee, Washington, and Chicago before they play Dallas again. If they drop one of the next three games and Dallas wins all three, then beats Philly, they would both be 12-3.

After Dallas plays Philadelphia for the 2nd time, the would need to close out the season strong against the Titans and Commanders in hopes of securing the number one seed heading into the playoffs. That’s easier said than done as Washington has been surging, recently beating the previously undefeated Eagles. On the other hand, Derrick Henry leads the Titans and the league in rushing yards and we all know the Cowboys struggle in that department from time-to-time.

Besides the obvious answer of racking up wins, the Cowboys need to keep their focus on a few other areas if they want to truly make a deep playoff push.

Keys Going Forward

To begin with, Dallas needs to keep getting after the quarterback. The Cowboys are absolutely dominating on the defensive side of the ball with a league-leading 45 sacks. The next closest team is the New England Patriots with 36.

On the other side of the ball, the offense is rolling since Dak Prescott came back from his thumb injury. They will need to continue to do so in order to avoid a situation like last year’s playoff performance against the Niners. They rank inside the top-10 in almost every major category since Dak’s return. The offense has averaged 34 points per game over the last 5 weeks compared to a measly 21 points weeks 1-7.

On top of everything else, the Cowboys’ secondary leads the league for least amount of passing yards allowed per game at 177.7.

Over the last 5 games, there has been very few holes in the Cowboys’ game. With that said, there are two areas they need to work in their quest for the franchise’s sixth ring,  penalties and rushing yards allowed per game.

Last year against the Niners, the Cowboys tied a playoff record with 14 penalties and allowed 169 rushing yards. Those trends have carried over to this season as Dallas has allowed 131.9 rushing yards per game (22nd) and lead the league with 83 penalties.

Too often the Cowboys have left points on the field this season due to penalties followed by  teams running the ball and controlling the clock. However, Dallas did just hold Saquon Barkley to 39 yards on 11 carries and 90 yards for the Giants as a whole. This could be a sign of things to come for Dallas as they prepare for their Sunday Night game against the Colts in week 13.

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What would you like to see the Dallas Cowboys do as they make a playoff push?