The New York Giants upset of the Dallas Cowboys has once again prompted speculation that "America's Team" will fade down the stretch.
Of course, even before last week's loss there was reason to believe that things might get a bit cold for the Cowboys this winter.
Not only have they been very inconsistent this season, but they have put together a pretty solid record of folding up their tents as soon as the calendar reaches the final page in recent years.
Over the past decade, their December win-loss record is 15-29. So, it wasn't (or shouldn't have been) a big shock that they lost to the Giants and looked terrible while doing it.
However, the bigger problem for the Cowboys (and for Wade Philips' job security) is that, with their schedule, even if they do play as well as they have played all season, they could very easily end up with a losing record in December again.
To close out the season, Dallas plays at home against San Diego, on the road against New Orleans and Washington, and finally back home against Philadelphia. Of those teams, the Redskins are the only ones not likely to be a playoff team.
It's not at all inconceivable that the Cowboys could upset the Saints, but more likely than not, Dallas will be yet another victim of the juggernaut from New Orleans.
Provided they play up to their potential, the other three games are ones that they should have a good chance of winning. However, San Diego is one of the hottest teams in the league right now having won seven straight. Beating the Chargers will be a very tough task.
The dogfight doesn't end there, either. Washington has already proved that they can compete with Dallas during their one point loss two weeks ago and Philly has a three game win streak of their own. Plus, no game between NFC East rivals is ever a given, especially if the Eagles and Cowboys are playing for the division crown in their week 17 matchup.
With one December loss already on the books, Dallas will need to win a least three of their final four games to post a winning record for the month. That, combined with their slim (by virtue of a tie-breaker) lead over the Eagles, leaves the Cowboys without much room for error the remainder of the season.
Beyond that, even if the Cowboys survive December intact, they still have to face their lack of success in the playoffs since '96. Unless they post a couple wins in the playoffs, those same questions about their late season play will start anew.
The pressure is on for Dallas to finish strong this year and, unfortunately for the Cowboys, their remaining schedule has set them up to fail, yet again.
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