IRVING, Texas – The Cowboys haven’t had a winning record in the month of December since 2001. And even that didn’t mean much considering the team went 3-2 in the final month but just 5-11 overall.
But typically, how the Cowboys fare down the stretch is a big factor in making or missing the playoffs.
December starts this weekend against the reeling Eagles and if the Cowboys have any chances of turning their 5-6 record into something meaningful this season, they simply have to beat the Eagles, a team they were able to upend just a month ago in Philly.
Here are the gut feelings for staff writers Nick Eatman, Bryan Broaddus and Rowan Kavner.
Rowan: Looking at the rest of the schedule, this is the only game the Cowboys can look at and say they really should be able to win with confidence. Dallas has yet to finish a game dominating a team from start to finish. They should be able to do that against a three-win Eagles team that got rid of its top veteran pass rusher and will be without its starting quarterback, running back and deep threat. If they can’t, the Cowboys will be no different than the Eagles, playing more for pride than a legitimate shot at the playoffs.
Bryan: When the Cowboys faced the Eagles a few short weeks ago, I thought that Jason Garrett had his best game as a play caller. I am sure that others would have said the first Giants game or the matchup against the Ravens but for the mix that he was able to use both run and pass, I was impressed. My gut feeling this week tells me that Garrett will once again be able to dial up the necessary plays to keep the Eagles off balance. I fully expect to Garrett to attack this front with a combination of Murray, Jones and Dunbar which will allow him to get to some shots down the field. This wide “9” front that the Eagles play if blocked correctly can create some space in the running game. Garrett will be mindful of Murray and how many touches he gets in this game but it will be his freshness and ability that will be able to attack this Eagles defense the way Garrett wants to.
Nick: This one is rather tricky because you often wonder how grown men respond to changes within a football team. While the Eagles didn’t fire their head coach, the decision to cut Jason Babin suggests the front office is already looking ahead. I’ve seen teams completely tank it after that, or rally around each other and surprise everyone. If Philly didn’t have so many injuries to key spots, I’d think the Eagles had a better shot of winning this one. I do think the Cowboys will be more talented on this night and they’ll take advantage of the Eagles’ inexperience. I do see it being somewhat close in the third quarter but the Cowboys finding a way to win, but not impressively enough to silence their own critics. This one has “ugly win” written all over to me. At this point, in this month, you’ll take it.