It wasn’t a signature win, but Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett may have just saved his job on Sunday Night Football. The Cowboys defeated a listless Philadelphia Eagles squad by just five points, which allowed them to climb back to .500 (6-6) and remain on the outskirts of the playoff picture.
Despite the fact that so many have called for Garrett’s firing (or, at least, demotion) in Dallas, it’s clear that owner Jerry Jones loves the idea of Garrett as his head coach.
He’s the one who cuts the checks, so it appears that Garrett will remain the guy in charge—with a seat that gets more and more comfortable as the Cowboys inch closer to the playoffs. They currently sit at seventh in the conference in a three-way tie with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Minnesota Vikings.
Playoff optimism should be tempered, though: Dallas is on the wrong side of too many tie-breakers.
Essentially, the Cowboys need to win out to have a chance at making the postseason. They don’t have any remaining games against the NFC East-leading New York Giants, and 9-7 isn’t going to cut it in the NFC wild card race.
They’ve lost head-to-head matchups with the Chicago Bears (8-4) and Seattle Seahawks (7-5), which means that the 'Boys have to win more games outright in order to secure a playoff spot at the expense of either of those squads.
Dallas's remaining opponents have a combined record of 24-23 heading into the Washington Redskins' Monday Night Football matchup with the Giants. New York and Tampa Bay were the only two teams with a record of .500 or better that Dallas has defeated this season.
Both of those wins happened in the first three weeks of 2012.
It also beat the 3-9 Eagles twice, the 3-9 Carolina Panthers and the 4-8 Cleveland Browns—in overtime. Dallas just hasn’t knocked off good NFL teams this year, creating real questions about whether it can take care of the Cincinnati Bengals or Pittsburgh Steelers (Weeks 14 and 15 respectively; both 7-5).
Even the New Orleans Saints (Week 16) could cause problems, and the Redskins (Week 17) beat Dallas in Dallas on Thanksgiving. The Cowboys could just as easily slide to 6-10 as they could get to 9-7 or 10-6. None of the aforementioned scenarios is likely to land them in the playoffs.
Garrett’s job still looks safe for another offseason, though—if only because his boss likes him so much.
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