3 Ways Cowboys Can Avoid Letdown After Clinching NFC EastDecember 29, 2021
3 Ways Cowboys Can Avoid Letdown After Clinching NFC East
The Dallas Cowboys have no time to get complacent.
Mike McCarthy's team secured the NFC East title in Week 16, but that is just the first of a few achievements the team hopes to earn before the end of the regular season.
Dallas still has the No. 1 overall seed in the NFC in its sights and it has the potential to host at least two postseason contests if it wins out.
The Cowboys have two playoff-like contests remaining on their schedule against the Arizona Cardinals in Week 17 and Philadelphia Eagles in Week 18.
Those two matchups should allow the Cowboys to fine-tune their talents going into a loaded NFC playoff bracket.
Focus on No. 1 Seed in NFC
The Cowboys are still alive for the No. 1 overall seed in the NFC because of their fantastic record within the conference.
The NFC East champion is 9-1 in NFC play. That mark is much better than most of the top playoff contenders and one game above what the Green Bay Packers have done.
Dallas could finish the regular season with an 11-1 record inside the NFC if it beats Arizona and Philadelphia, two likely outcomes based off the current play of those franchises.
Arizona is trending in the wrong direction. The Cardinals dropped out of the NFC West lead and into the No. 5 seed in the NFC with their loss to the Indianapolis Colts.
Philadelphia is playing better than the Cardinals, but it still has plenty of flaws. The Eagles needed a second-half surge to break free from the New York Giants in Week 16.
Dallas needs to take care of its own business and then hope the Packers slip up against either the Minnesota Vikings or Detroit Lions to grab the No. 1 seed.
A loss to Minnesota is possible since the Vikings need a victory to remain in the hunt for a NFC wild-card spot after its defeat to the Los Angeles Rams.
Asking the Lions to beat Aaron Rodgers and Co. is more of a challenging task, so Dallas' No. 1 seed hopes could come down to Week 17.
Keep Up Tremendous Defensive Play
Dallas can win the Super Bowl if its defense continues to play the way it has over the last month.
The Cowboys allowed one opponent to reach the 20-point mark in that span. The Washington Football Team barely got to that mark in Week 14.
Dallas' defense has tormented opposing offenses by forcing 14 turnovers in the last four games. They had four takeaways each against Washington, the Las Vegas Raiders and New York Giants.
The impressive defensive play shows that the Cowboys can play well above their competition instead of dropping their level against a team hovering around .500.
The same ferociousness is required to slow down Kyler Murray and Jalen Hurts in the next two weeks. Dallas forced two turnovers against the Hurts-led Eagles in Week 3.
That is a positive sign for what may come in Week 18 with the No. 1 seed potentially on the line.
Continue to Get Everyone Involved on Offense
Dak Prescott had no trouble spreading the ball around on Sunday night against the Washington defense.
He threw a touchdown pass to a running back, wide receiver, tight end and offensive lineman and he completed a pass to nine different players.
Dallas' offensive depth allows it to hit opponents from all sorts of angles. Tony Pollard and Ezekiel Elliott are active in the passing game out of the backfield. Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb and Michael Gallup form a terrific wide receiver trio and Dalton Schultz has come on as a big target in the last two weeks.
Prescott needs to keep feeding the ball to as many players as possible to add more confidence within the offense as the playoffs approach.
Dallas is going to need multiple players to step up during a potential Super Bowl run. Elliott, Cooper or Lamb can't carry the team in a single game because most of the defenses the Cowboys will face won't allow that.
As long as Dallas' offense keeps humming the way it has been, it has to be viewed as a Super Bowl contender because of its well-rounded nature on both sides of the ball.