FRISCO, Texas – So you’re saying there’s a chance?
However remote it looks based on outside statistical models, the Cowboys (5-9) mathematically remain in the NFC East playoff race with two games left.
Sunday’s 41-33 win over the 49ers, coupled with losses by the Giants (5-9) and Eagles (4-9-1), pushed the Cowboys from last place to second place behind Washington (6-8), who lost to Seattle on Sunday without starting quarterback Alex Smith and running back Antonio Gibson in the lineup due to injury.
The Cowboys have closed the division gap, but they still need help. Because Washington already clinched the head-to-head tiebreaker with a season sweep, Dallas would have to beat the Eagles this Sunday and the Giants in Week 17 and hope Washington loses their final two games against the Panthers (4-10) and at Philadelphia.
The Cowboys aren’t thinking that far ahead.
Self-improvement has been their focus these last few weeks, and they just earned their first two-game win streak of the season with a combined seven takeaways and zero turnovers against the 49ers and Bengals.
It’s the type of complementary football head coach Mike McCarthy has been emphasizing all season.
“It’s a big chunk of confidence,” McCarthy said Sunday.
“The times of adversity clearly are things we can grow from. I’m just really happy for the players. These guys deserve this. They’ve stayed after it.
“We all signed on for 16 regular-season games. We want to see this through and be the best that we can be. We need all those opportunities. It’s obviously fun, it was a great locker room (after the win). That’s part of this. But also, two weeks in a row, we had a lot of young players have opportunities. That’s something that gives another piece of growth throughout our football team. So, these games are very important.”
So, what happens next in the NFC East?
Who knows. The only certainty is this year’s division champ won’t have a winning record.
The Cowboys still have a chance. That’s all they can ask for.
“There has been no quit in this team,” quarterback Andy Dalton said. “There’s been a lot of stuff that has happened this year, you know, some adversity that we’ve faced.
“We know that there’s still a chance out there, but for us, we just have to make the most out of these last two opportunities and see how everything shakes out.”