ARLINGTON — The Dallas Cowboys haven’t locked up the NFC East, but it’s going to be difficult for anyone to pass them now. I believe it’s a 98 percent chance Dallas will win the division for the second time in three years. Things change fast in the NFL. No one saw this coming when Dallas was sitting at 3-5.
Here are my thoughts on the Cowboys sweeping the Eagles with a 29-23 overtime win Sunday at AT&T Stadium:
1. Not a great game for Dak Prescott. Playing against an injury-riddled secondary, the Cowboys quarterback threw several bad passes, his worst being the two interceptions. Dallas entered Sunday 1-7 in games when Prescott throws more than one interception. And then he lost another fumble. His ball security has been a problem all season. For most of the day, Prescott was having one of his worst games, especially considering the personnel and injury-riddled Philly secondary. However, his greatest trait may just be his resiliency. After the Eagles tied the game in the fourth, Prescott locked in and drove Dallas down the field, capping the series with a beautiful ball in the end zone to Amari Cooper for 28 yards. He followed it with a 75-yarder to Cooper. And then there was overtime. Obviously, Prescott has to be much better if the Cowboys are going to have any chance of making a playoff run.
2. Sometimes you have to trade a first-round pick to save your season. The Cowboys did that when they traded for Amari Cooper. Everything has changed since making that move. Cooper has been exactly what the offense and Prescott needed. He is almost always open and he makes big plays. There’s no question the Cowboys have to lock the 24-year-old up long-term. Something else that sounds out about Dallas’ No. 1 receiver: He doesn’t complain when he’s not getting the ball. He was never checked Sunday by a corner who could hang with him. But he didn’t seem to complain when he wasn’t getting the ball early. His patience paid off. One of his greatest strengths is his ability to not get too high or too low.
3. The Cowboys’ defense is elite. They’ve established it at all three levels. They’re not going to shut teams down every Sunday, not with the way the game is officiated nowadays. But they’re good enough to lead this team on a postseason run if the offense can take care of the ball and make a handful of key plays each game.
4. The Zack Martin injury is a serious concern. He did not return and it’s the same knee that’s been bothering him all season. Connor Williams seemed to play well at right guard in Martin’s absence, but it would be a major blow to be without the All-Pro right guard, especially because Tyron Smith isn’t close to 100 percent and Travis Frederick is done for the year. The Cowboys have been relatively fortunate in the injury department up this point. Martin would be a tough loss to overcome.
5. Brett Maher set the franchise record with his 62-yard field goal before half. He also made attempts from 28 and 21 yards. Although he missed from 45, the Cowboys probably don’t win this game without him. The same can be said of the Dallas tight ends, particularly Blake Jarwin and Dalton Schultz. They made some huge plays on the same day ESPN reported that Jason Garrett has attempted to talk Jason Witten out of retirement.
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