The 2011 NFC East title will come down to the last game of the season between the Cowboys and the Giants. The NFL has moved the game to Sunday Night Football on NBC as well. What will happen in this game is anyone’s guess.
I’ve said it many times before that I tell it like it is when it comes to the Cowboys. Other than being a loyal fan and sticking with your team what reasons do fans have to believe that the Cowboys will finally put it together against the Giants? Every time the Cowboys have had a chance to take control this season they have failed to get it done.
The Cowboys have not beaten a quality team all season. Their only victory over a team with a winning record was against the 49ers, but that was also way back in Week 2. The Bills can be thrown in there when they were 5-3, but does anyone truly believe the Bills were as good as their record?
When the Cowboys had a chance to improve to 3-1 they gave away a 27-3 second half lead to the Lions. With a 16-13 lead against the Patriots they were not aggressive and gave the ball back to Tom Brady who drove the Patriots to a 20-16 victory to drop the Cowboys to 2-3.
The Cowboys first big division test came in Philadelphia on October 30th. The Eagles went ahead early and led the Cowboys 24-0 at halftime. They went on to take a 34-0 lead before the Cowboys scored in the fourth quarter. The Eagles won the game 34-7, dropping the Cowboys to 3-4.
After losing to the Eagles, the Cowboys won four in a row to improve to 7-4. The Cowboys then had a golden opportunity to put a strangle hold on the division title in the 12th game of the season. The Giants lost to the Packers and dropped to 6-6. The Cowboys had a chance to take a two game lead, but they lost in overtime to the 4-7 Cardinals and fell to 7-5 on the season.
Then a week later another opportunity presented itself for the 7-5 Cowboys when they hosted the 6-6 Giants in prime-time. The Cowboys held a 12 point lead late in the fourth quarter and ended up losing, 37-34.
Now with both the Cowboys and Giants tied at 8-7 they meet again, this time at MetLife Stadium in NJ next Sunday night in a battle for the NFC East. The winner will host a Wildcard playoff game and the loser will pack up their stuff and head home for the offseason.
So I will ask once again. What reasons should Cowboys fans have to believe this team will pull it all together in the final week of the season? The defense has been less than impressive all season under Rob Ryan. They can’t seem to get constant pressure on opposing quarterbacks. The secondary seems to always be out of position and gets beat for big gains.
On offense Tony Romo has been having a good season with 29 touchdown passes and only nine interceptions and close to 4,000 yards passing. His season seemed to improve when rookie DeMarco Murray became the starter and finally gave the Cowboys an effective running game to take the pressure off Romo. With Murray on IR the running game went back to Felix Jones who was coming back from his own injury. But now Jones is dealing with a bad hamstring so the Cowboys running game falls on 12 year veteran Sammy Morris who had not played all season until being signed before the Tampa Bay game. Add practice squad player Chauncey Washington to the running game and there is a huge drop off for the Cowboys.
After losing to the Eagles on Christmas Eve the Cowboys learned that they will be without starting left guard Montrae Holland due to a partially torn left bicep. Veteran Derrick Dockery will replace Holland in the offensive line. Sean Lee is dealing with a strained hamstring, but it’s being reported that he will play against the Giants.
Standing in the Cowboys way of a division title are the NY Giants. If the Cowboys can’t get their running game going, then it will fall into Tony Romo’s hands. If that happens it’s the Giants defensive line that becomes a problem. They can get a lot of pressure on Romo with just rushing four. If the offensive line can give Romo time and he will find his receivers. History also shows that when Romo tries to do too much he makes a lot of mistakes. The X factor in this game will be how effective Felix Jones will be in the running game. With the Cowboys defense not responding when it counts this season this game may end up as an offensive shootout with the last team having the ball winning the game.
So as a writer who tells it like it is I don’t see much as far as promise for the Cowboys going into this do or die game. The Cowboys have many injuries and have been inconsistent all season. But as a fan I will be cheering for them as they take the field Sunday Night against the Giants with another NFC East title in reach.