About Those Cowboys: Don't Count Them Out Of Playoff Contention In The NFC Yet

J Howard GiddingsContributor IOctober 19, 2010

One of the highlights of my football Sundays is watching the Dallas Cowboys self-destruct.  It makes for great theater, especially when my Washington Redskins can't seem to figure out who they are on defense, can't protect Donovan McNabb well enough, and have a spotty passing game, at best.  It's always comforting to watch Dallas belie the pundits' early season predictions.  But if I were you, I wouldn't count them out of the playoff chase just yet.

If the Cowboys were a volcano, the National Geological Survey would be clearing out towns at the base of the mountain.  Seismograph needles would be bouncing from side to side like a Bill Clinton polygraph, and computer models would warn of impending doom.  Thermal scans would be bright orange and deep red, while gas readings would be off the charts.  Don't believe me?

League-wide, the Cowboys are third in total offense based on yardage.  They're fourth in passing yards,  In terms of yardage surrendered by their defense, they're fourth overall, as they're fourth in passing yards allowed and ninth in rushing yards allowed per game.  Their third down conversion percentage is 46%, ranking them fourth.  Their fourth down conversion rate is 71%, which ranks them third.

Dallas gains 400 yards per game in spite of the fact they give back an average of 80 yards due to penalties.  They're 1 and 4 because of the penalties and the fact they turn the ball over to their opponents one more time per game than their opponents turn the ball over to them.  All Wade Phillips has to do to dramatically reverse their fortunes this season is start benching players who commit stupid penalties for one game, and wear out that three-headed monster of a backfield by running the ball 60% of the time.  As for the turnovers, many of Romo's picks are due to tipped passes.  Sure, the Cowboys need to work on forcing more turnovers to turn their -5 net total to a positive, but that's not what they need to focus on the most.

I may sound as if I'm drinking the Cowboys' kool-aid here, but I'm not.  I can't stand them.  Never have, never will.  But, facts are facts, and I'm not stupid enough to ignore the statistical facts after 5 games.  Unless this team is so frustrated its locker room becomes divisive, all signs point to a serious turn-around.  I'm rooting for that to happen against the Philadelphia Eagles and the New York Giants.  I'd love to see a well-contained eruption.  When Dallas plays Washington, may Wade Phillips continue to be too soft on his players, and may Jerry Jones continue to think he's a General Manager and back-office Head Coach.