It is, of course, impossible to predict the future.
And betting on a team tied for the fifth best record among the remaining contenders is not exactly maximizing your odds.
With a stellar passing game and running game, the Cowboys' offense is ranked second in the NFL. Yet, I actually think the strength of the team is its defense.
Officially ranked ninth in the NFL, the Cowboys defense is seriously underrated. They finished second in the NFL in points against, only 14 points behind the Jets. If the Colts and Bengals had actually competed full-tilt against the Jets, Dallas would undoubtedly have finished first.
The only team that scored more than 21 points against Dallas all season long was the NY Giants—twice. And luckily for the Cowboys, the Giants aren't in the playoffs.
The Dallas defense is tough. It's relentless. There are playmakers at the front, there are playmakers at the back.
Three weeks ago, they took on the NFL's No. 1 ranked offense in the midst of a 13-game undefeated streak, fueled by impressive blowouts that had many predicting the Saints to finish 16-0.
The Cowboys defense dominated the Saints offense, crushing its confidence so badly that the Saints lost to a 2-12 team the following week and finished the season with three straight losses.
Meanwhile, the Cowboys defense followed up that performance with back-to-back shutouts in must-win games. The second came against a hot and dangerous Eagles team led by Donovan McNabb, who were playing for the division and a first-round bye.
Does anyone still question the caliber of this Cowboys defense?
Over the last few years, the Cowboys have always had good teams. Their problem has been consistency from week to week.
So far they proved their critics wrong by exorcising their December demons, but their own consistency will still be their biggest challenge in the playoffs. Particularly that of the offense. A 7-6 win like they had in Week 11 was probably a one-time offer.
Although Dallas dominated Philadelphia last week, the Eagles are no easy playoff opponent. Win that, and the 'Boys earn the right to travel to the Metrodome to take on the awaiting Brett Favre and Adrian Peterson. Another win, and the Cowboys face a guaranteed third dangerous opponent in either Green Bay, Arizona, or New Orleans.
An off-game against teams of that caliber and the Cowboys are likely done. But if they bring their best each week, I can't see how those teams will defeat the complete package that is the Dallas Cowboys.
Now let's turn our attention to the Superbowl.
I think the most complete team in the AFC is the Chargers, and I can't see anyone making it out of the conference but them or the Colts.
How would a Cowboys-Colts Superbowl play out? I would guess similarly to Dallas' win over New Orleans.
What about a Cowboys-Chargers Superbowl?
San Diego is the next-closest thing to the Cowboys, and would probably pose the toughest challenge. Indeed, they edged Dallas in a great game on Dec. 13, and may well do so again. But in the end, Dallas' elite defense should give them the edge between two otherwise closely-matched teams, so I lean towards the Cowboys in a rematch.
Dallas may yet get bounced in the wildcard round.
But it says here the Cowboys are the team to beat. The only question is whether they beat themselves, or save it for their opponents and win their sixth Lombardi Trophy.
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