Though the Dallas Cowboys have not inspired much confidence this season, they have shown that they are at least capable of making the playoffs. Hope is not lost. Last year, the 9-7 New York Giants peaked through the last two games of the season, and rode a momentum wave all the way to their second Super Bowl in five years. Here's how the Dallas Cowboys can do the same.
Even with losing countless starters to injuries, Rob Ryan has built a formidable defense. Although not elite, Ryan's defense is capable of holding opponents to 21-28 points per game. This might seem like a very large number, but only because the offense has been stuck in first gear, sputtering bad gas. It won't take long before it's able to shift into the next gear.
Halfway through the season, Rob Ryan decided to change some verbage, and call turnovers "take-overs". The term fits. Remember the convincing win against the Philadelphia Eagles several weeks ago? The game was close until a special teams touchdown and two turnovers for scores gave the Cowboys a convincing lead. If the Cowboys want to live on a prayer all the way to the playoffs, "take-overs" will be a large part.
Like Deon Sanders, you can love him or hate him—but he is Prime Time. This 24-year-old has broken loose of the chains of mediocrity and will continue to produce large numbers for the Dallas Cowboys. If the Cowboys want to make the playoffs, Bryant must be an integral part of every game plan.
Dez Bryant has to be able to take over games, regardless of coverages. He needs to keep his temper, and quit strutting like he has done something. Yes, he has been great—but if you haven't earned a Lombardi Trophy (or been to the Pro Bowl) then there is no reason to be swaggin'.
Dez Bryant must not just be "great" in order for the Cowboys to make the playoffs.
He has to live up to the No. 88.
Kevin Ogletree has more than likely played himself out of the NFL with his poor performance this year. After an amazing opening game, the past 10 have been lackluster and awful. With the concussion to Ogletree, Dwayne Harris has stepped up with key catches at critical moments.
This former 6th round pick out of Eastern Carolina is going to show coaches why he should be the No. 3 wideout. Not only will his play on offense need to inspire Tony Romo and Jason Garrett, but he could save Joe DeCamillis' job as Special Teams Coordinator with another amazing punt return or two.
The running game will continue to be miserable through the rest of the season. Yes, DeMarco Murray's eventual return will give the running game a much-needed boost, but this team will fight through the air, not on the ground.
Dwayne Harris needs his touches, because he won't disappoint.
The Cowboys are their own worst enemy, being one of the most penalized teams in the league. Against the Atlanta Falcons, several defensive stops were ruined because of pointless penalties. On offense in every single game, false start and delay of game penalties stall scoring drives for the Cowboys—even down in the red zone.
If the Cowboys want to be able to compete with the likes of the San Francisco 49ers, Atlanta Falcons, New York Giants, Green Bay Packers and Seattle Seahawks, then they need to be able to play mentally tough football and limit penalties only to the unavoidable ones (i.e. holding a pass rusher to prevent Tony Romo from being slaughtered via face mask).
Whether you believe the criticism of Cowboys QB Tony Romo is deserved or not, this team will only go as far as he can carry them.
The Cowboys defense has been riddled with injuries and will be hard pressed to merely slow down playoff offenses. The offensive line should continue to improve, as Phil Costa could be returning from injury, but this line will give up sacks and hits on Romo regardless.
Tony Romo must make plays with his legs and arms if the Cowboys wish to make it to the postseason. The schedule down the road is favorable for the Cowboys, and Romo is liable to either squander an opportunity or rise to the top and propel his team to the playoffs.
At Romo's current rate, and at the rate the Cowboys will have to continue to throw the ball down the stretch, Romo could break the 5,000 yard mark for the season and put himself in some good company.
For the Cowboys sake, he needs to.