It’s been a roller-coaster of a season for the Dallas Cowboys as the club has jerked back and forth between positive and negative momentum.
Dallas can clinch the NFC East by defeating Tampa Bay on Sunday at AT&T Stadium and that scenario leads to an interesting glass-half-full or half-empty breakdown.
The Glass-half-empty take: Putting aside some Cowboys fans feelings about coaching decisions and even management’s football acumen, Dallas has serious limitations on offense. The offensive line has been trying to fill in holes all season and that continues as right guard Zack Martin is questionable this week.
The lack of continuity has shown up in some predictable ways, most notably, the Cowboys’ failure to convert a fourth-and-1 from the Colts’ 3-yard line on Sunday.
The offensive problems point to an unavoidable conclusion: even if Dallas wins the NFC East, they don’t have the firepower to advance beyond the divisional round of the playoffs when they would have to travel somewhere like Los Angeles or New Orleans.
But then there’s the glass-half-full perspective: The Cowboys have a good enough defense to keep them in games as it proved with a win over the Saints in late November.
And it’s not as if this is a case, like with past Ravens Super Bowl teams, where an incredible defense masks a void of play-makers on the offensive side. Obviously, Ezekiel Elliott is one of if not the best all-around running back in the NFL. He’s a player that can control games almost single handedly when he’s finding running room.
But Elliott hasn’t even been the Cowboys biggest offensive star at times. Amari Cooper has made huge, game-breaking plays on a consistent basis since Dallas acquired him in late October. He was the catalyst for the Cowboys’ five-game winning streak as he opened up a new dimension for the Dallas offense.
So if the Cowboys can win the division and a wild-card playoff game at home, they have the potential to be the surprise team of the playoffs.