Dallas Cowboys Still Hunting for Playoffs, but How Far Can They Really Go?

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Dallas Cowboys Still Hunting for Playoffs, but How Far Can They Really Go?
Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Cowboys wrapped up a season sweep over their arch rival in Washington with a 24-23 Week 16 win. The 'Boys are still in control of their playoff destiny, but even if they make it in, they'd be arguably the weakest team in the NFC bracket.

There is always one glaring problem when looking at the Cowboys from season to season in recent years. In 2011 and 2012, it was the offensive line. This year, it's the entire defensive unit.

People will say what they want about Tony Romo and whether or not he can lead Dallas late into the postseason. The problem for Romo is that his offense is usually a formidable one at the skill positions, but that one glaring issue for the team always hinders it.

For example, when the Cowboys played Denver and Green Bay this season, Romo's offense put up 48 and 36 points respectively. It doesn't take any in-depth statistics to argue that when a team puts up that many points, it usually win. Dallas didn't win either of those games.

This Dallas defense has allowed six teams to score 30 or more points this season. Monte Kiffin's unit has been decimated with injuries to Anthony Spencer, Sean Lee, Justin Durant, Ernie Sims and so forth but that doesn't excuse everything. This defense rivals last year's New Orleans Saints in terms of worst defenses of all time.

The defensive issues have gotten to the likes of cornerback Orlando Scandrick, who told Clarence Hill Jr. of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram: "It's very frustrating—very, very frustrating. We faced some adversity but that's still no excuse to set records. We've just got to play better."

Will the Cowboys make a deep postseason run this year?

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If the Cowboys are able to knock off the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 17, they will have won six of their games against division opponents. In that scenario, Dallas would have only defeated three teams not in the NFC East before heading into the postseason.

Tony Romo, Dez Bryant and Co. have proven that they can put up points with the likes of the Broncos and Lions. On more than a few occasions this regular season, though, the offense hasn't been able to make up for incompetence on the defensive side.

It would be hard to see this Cowboys team defeating the likes of Chicago, Detroit, New Orleans or San Francisco in the playoffs. In fact, they have already lost to three of those four teams.

Making the postseason is certainly within Dallas' grasp, and doing so could save head coach Jason Garrett's job. Unfortunately, with this defense banged up and just not all that good, Dallas would be bounced in the first or second round.

This Cowboys team is not without talent, but most of it is not on the defensive side of the ball. Dallas is not equipped to shut down offenses like the Saints and Seahawks even if it can shut down the Eagles.

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