Cowboys Still In The Hunt, Here's The Help They'll Need

Week 14 miraculously finds the Cowboys still in the playoff race, here's the breakdown of this weekend's key matchups.

Winners of two of their last three contests, the Dallas Cowboys somehow find themselves in the thick of the NFC East playoff race in Week 14. With a 4-8 record, there isn't anything left to brag about for the team, especially with the play of third-string QB-turned-starter, Matt Cassel. Yet still, the ineptitude of the competition leaves Dallas in a great position to steal a division that nobody deserves.

The Cowboys still hold out the slimmest of hope that if they pull off a miracle, Tony Romo would be available for a playoff run, and with that hope is that he'd fare better than he did in his two-game return earlier this season. Again, the chances are minimal... but after seeing how this season turned out on the heels of last years incredible 12-4 run; the concept of not capitalizing on any opportunity seems silly. You play to win the game and you try to win games for a chance at the tournament. No matter how slim or unlikely the chance is, you take the opportunity.

That's exactly what Dallas will try to do on Sunday afternoon when they travel to the scene of the crime, last season's final game, Green Bay. Prior to the contest, Washington and Philadelphia will have already played their games, with New York following suit Monday evening. Here's a look at the NFC East landscape for Week 14.

______NFC East______

Cowboys(4-8)Washingon(5-7)NY Giants(5-7)Philadelphia(5-7)
Week Opponent Win % Opponent Win % Opponent Win % Opponent Win %
14 @Green Bay 0.667 @Chicago 0.417 @Miami 0.417 Buffalo 0.500
15 NY Jets 0.583 Buffalo 0.500 Carolina 1.000 Arizona 0.846
16 @ Buffalo 0.500 @Philadelphia 0.417 @Minnesota 0.615 Washington 0.417
17 Washington 0.417 @ Dallas 0.333 Philadelphia 0.417 @ NY Giants 0.417
  Avg Opp. Win% 0.542 Avg Opp. Win% 0.417 Avg Opp. Win% 0.612 Avg Opp. Win% 0.545

Washington has the easiest schedule record-wise, but plays 3 of 4 on the road. They are the only team with an opponent that isn't in the playoff hunt (today's game against Chicago). Next is Dallas, with a 2-2 home/away split in their remaining four contests. The Giants clearly have the toughest remaining schedule, with a home/away split and the Panthers being one of those home games. Philadelphia has their next three at home.

With Seattle's resurgence, the Wild Card isn't officially out of reach but the chances there have become so miniscule there's no point in going over the scenarios it would take for Dallas to qualify. Now here's a preview of the Week 14 matchups that do matter, the NFC East games.

KICKOFF MATCHUP
LINE
OVER/UNDER

SUN
1 pm

Buffalo (6-6) @
Philadelphia (5-7)

Pick'Em

47.5

The Eagles managed to use three defensive/special teams scores to upset the Patriots last week, and in reality give themselves the inside track to the division. Their next three games are all at The Linc, and then their finale is against the G-Men. In their way? Themselves, of course. The vaunted Chip Kelly offense is struggling to put points on the board and Chip Kelly demoted Demarco Murray mid-game last week for the likes of Kenjon Barner. That's the equivalent of Dallas giving Ben Malena more touches than Darren McFadden; it's a problem. Meanwhile, Buffalo's offense is humming along with Shady McCoy and Sammy Watkins proving to be the threats everyone envisioned. The issue is that Buffalo's defense hasn't even come close to living up to expectations, ranking 26th in defensive DVOA on the season. Rex Ryan's squad can't seem to get a grip on their pressure game, which makes the matchup with the quick-strike (yet slowed down for 2015) Eagles offense led by Sam Bradford. Prediction: Bills win on the road, 27-21. 

KICKOFF MATCHUP
LINE
OVER/UNDER

SUN
1 pm

Washington (5-7) @
Chicago (5-7)

Bears (-3.5)

43

At least Dallas fans won't have to hear about third-string QB Colt McCoy beating them ever again. Washington crapped the bed, but still controls it's destiny in the NFC East. As has been the case for several years, the team's offense is reliant on DeSean Jackson having more than one big play a game. They are woefully bad in the differential for big plays and their run game has completely disappeared. Chicago's offense has made huge strides since their bye week as they seemingly have convinced Jay Cutler to be a game-manager. Alshon Jeffery is of course the big threat, while Martellus Bennett has been placed on IR for a rib injury (amid talk he's disgruntled. Surprised?) Their running back rotation is very strong, and look for that to be the key to today's game as they rotate Forte, Langford and Carey. Prediction: Bears hold serve at home behind a strong rushing attack, 24-14. 

KICKOFF MATCHUP
LINE
OVER/UNDER

MON
830 pm

New York (5-7) @
Miami (5-7)

Giants (-2.5)

46.5

The Giants have proven to be just as much of a dumpster fire as the other teams in the east, yet they seemed to avoid the drama until this week. The team released forder 3rd round pick Damontre Moore over several incidents of insubordination and dumb penalty receiving, with this week's locker-room fight over a pair of headphones sealing the deal. Meanwhile, their offense has serious trouble scoring in the second half and their coaching staff would rather go for it on 4th down in the 4th quarter instead of stretching a 10 point lead to 13. Their offensive line is a mess, and thoughts of Suh and Vernon wreaking havoc on them on national TV should make for several Eli faces amongst their fan base. The luster of Dan Campbell's newness has worn off in Miami though, and their offense is barely producing on their own. Could this game come down to a ST battle between Dwayne Harris and Jarvis Landry?  Prediction: Giants look bad, but pull off the road win, 21-18.


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