Despite their nine game winning streak, the rest of the NFC East hasn’t allowed the Dallas Cowboys’ to pull away from the division.
Nobody thought the Dallas Cowboys would be 9-1 ten games into the 2016 season. Even the lollipops and rainbows scenarios couldn’t have predicted this after starting quarterback Tony Romo went down with a back injury before the year began.
Just like nobody could’ve foreseen how good the rest of the NFC East was going to be. It was suggested that the division was still in a downward cycle and not many prognosticators had the division winner with more than 10 wins on the season. As it stands right now, three NFC East teams will approach 10 wins and all three will make the playoffs.
In 2016, it’s fair to say the NFC East is back, and much better than anticipated.
Therein lies the issue for the Dallas Cowboys. Ordinarily, a nine game winning streak would mean you’re sitting comfortably in the lead of a divisional race. If this were the past few seasons, Dallas would have had this thing about wrapped up by now. That is not the case this year, where the Cowboys are still fighting to put some distance between themselves and the New York Giants and the Washington Redskins. The only team that seems out of it at the moment, are the Philadelphia Eagles.
The Giants are riding a five game winning streak of their own and sit just two games back of the lead in the division. They are at the end of the soft part of their schedule, which has seen them almost keep pace with the Cowboys in the race for the NFC East title. New York is the only team to beat Dallas this season and they get the Cowboys at home in second week of December. Could the division be riding on that game?
Not far behind the Giants sit the Redskins, who are 6-1-1 in their last eight games after a 0-2 start. Washington is playing their best football of the year and are bringing a scorching hot offense to Dallas on Thanksgiving. It appears as though too many people dismissed the Redskins and Kirk Cousins as a fluke last year; they are backing up their division title and are a legit threat to repeat as champs should the Cowboys and Giants falter.
Very little has gone as predicted in the NFC East this season and the race for the division remains tight. The Cowboys have looked like the cream of the crop, but they haven’t gotten enough separation to feel comfortable, considering they have won nine straight games.
That is why this week is a big opportunity for Dallas. With a win over the Redskins, the Cowboys would have swept their rivals and could open up a three-plus game lead over Washington with five to play. That’s a tall mountain to climb, especially when it means the Pig Noses must get to one game better than the Cowboys since Dallas would own the tie-breaker.
Beat the Redskins tomorrow and it sets up possibly the game of the year in the division, in New York, on Sunday night, December 11th. We are getting ahead of ourselves, but this could end up being the game where the Cowboys take hold of the NFC East for good. It could also be the game where things get extremely tight in the division.
What a year it’s been for the NFC East. All four teams are at or above .500, and it’s the best division in football. The Dallas Cowboys are on top right now, but it’s too close for comfort. Having a nine game winning streak is great, but surprisingly, it hasn’t helped Dallas run away with the division yet.
The Cowboys can start that process by beating the Redskins on Thanksgiving. That would be one way to dash the dreams of one of their rivals; which would be like the gravy on top of their 10 game winning streak.