The Dallas Cowboys have no wiggle room left if they hope to make the playoffs.
At 6-6 with four games to go, there might be some fuzzy-math scenarios at the end that could point in the Cowboys’ favor if they win out.
The small picture is winning a road game on Sunday against the 2-10 New York Giants. The Giants are in disarray, but this is still the NFC East and anything can happen.
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That being said, all the Cowboys should focus on is winning. They can worry about scenarios in a couple weeks.
Here are five storylines to watch:
The Cowboys began the season with Super Bowl dreams. Those dreams seem distant at this point. But that doesn’t mean the Cowboys can’t get hot and make a run. The Cowboys understand they have to win out and get to 10-6, which is usually good enough to get in the playoffs. That might not be the case this year, though, with the Cowboys needing to jump several teams for one of two wild-card spots. But the playoff picture is clear in one way – if the Cowboys lose, they’re done.
Quarterback Dak Prescott hasn’t had as smooth a sophomore season as his sensational rookie year suggested. The offense has been inconsistent, but took strides in snapping a three-game losing streak with a win against the Washington Redskins. Prescott, though, hasn’t found his groove in the passing game. He has thrown for less than 250 yards in seven consecutive games, and less than 200 in the past four. Maybe the Giants’ secondary will cure that. New York ranks 30th in passing defense, allowing an average of 260.2 yards in the air.
The Cowboys’ rushing attack should have a field day against the Giants, too, as they have the worst running defense in the league. The Giants allow 130.7 yards a game on the ground, and the Cowboys boast the fourth-best rushing attack in the NFL. Alfred Morris looked like his former self against the Redskins, topping the 100-yard mark for the first time since the 2015 season finale. Morris rushed for 127 yards on 27 carries and Rod Smith added 27 yards on 10 carries.
Dak to Dez
With Ezekiel Elliott suspended for two more games, the Cowboys’ biggest home-run threat remains receiver Dez Bryant. But Prescott and Bryant haven’t been on the same page much this season. Bryant has yet to reach 100 yards receiving in a game, although he did snap his five-game touchdown drought with a score against the Redskins. That might be a sign things are starting to click between them – something the Cowboys desperately need to happen down the stretch.
The Giants have one of the worst offensive lines in the league, which should bode well for a Cowboys pass rush that found footing against the Redskins. DeMarcus Lawrence leads the NFL with 13.5 sacks and is on pace for 18. That would be the third-most in franchise history. But the coveted 20-sack mark is not out of question for Lawrence. He opened the season with 7.5 sacks in his first four games, and a repeat of that would not only get him to the 20-sack mark, but pass DeMarcus Ware’s franchise record of 20 set in 2008.
Dallas Cowboys 2017 Schedule
Sept. 10 Cowboys 19, New York Giants 3
Sept. 17 Denver 42, Cowboys 17
Sept. 25 Cowboys 28, Arizona 17
Oct. 1 Los Angeles Rams 35, Cowboys 30
Oct. 8 Green Bay 35, Cowboys 31.
Oct. 15 Bye
Oct. 22 Cowboys 40, San Francisco 10
Oct. 29 Cowboys 33, Washington 19
Nov. 5 Cowboys 28, Kansas City 17
Nov. 12 Atlanta 27, Cowboys 7
Nov. 19 Philadelphia 37, Cowboys 9
Nov. 23 L.A. Chargers 28, Cowboys 6
Nov. 30 Cowboys 38, Washington 14
Dec. 10 at New York Giants (KDFW/4) Noon
Dec. 17 at Raiders (KXAS/5) 7:30 p.m.
Dec. 24 vs. Seattle (KDFW/4) 3:25 p.m.
Dec. 31 at Philadelphia (KDFW/4) Noon