As the Cowboys get down to the finish line here of the 2020 season, the playoffs are a long shot, but still possible.
Here are five key points about this team and this season as they face the Eagles in a do-or-die matchup for both teams.
Fight to the finish.
The Cowboys face long odds wrestling the crown away from the Washington Football Team but they must handle their business over the next two weeks to take advantage of any slips from the team in Nation's Capital. Mike McCarthy must get his team to focus on playing their best game of the season against the Eagles. The Cowboys let a winnable game slip through their fingers in Week 8 against the Birds, but they can make amends for their slip-ups by taking care of the ball and eliminating the big plays that have plagued the team on defense. If the Cowboys can play solid football against two of their division rivals, the NFC East crown and an automatic playoff berth could land in their lap.
Put the focus on Pollard and Zeke instead of Pollard vs. Zeke.
The breakout performance of Tony Pollard has prompted some observers to urge the Cowboys' coaching staff to replace the team's All-Pro running back with the second-year pro. While I understand the love-hate relationship that some fans have with big money running backs, the Cowboys should resist the temptation to pit the runners as adversaries and focus on creating opportunities for the duo to function as complementary pieces within an offense that revolves around the backfield playmakers. Whether it involves a 60-40 split in playing time and touches or some formations that feature Pollard and Ezekiel Elliott on the field together, the Cowboys should put an emphasis on maximizing the talents of their dynamic duo.
The reshuffled O-Line is finally coming together.
It is not a coincidence that the Cowboys' offense has performed better behind a stabilized frontline that's logged three straight starts together. The combination of Brandon Knight, Connor Williams, Joe Looney, Connor McGovern, and Terence Steele has worked out the kinks and eliminated some of the blown assignments that plagued the Cowboys' pass protection and running blocking scheme. The improved chemistry, communication, and execution have resulted in more consistent production on the ground and more efficient performance through the air. Most important, it has enabled Kellen Moore to build game plans that emphasize balance and complement an opportunistic defense.
Can Sean Lee turn back the clock?
The latest injury to Leighton Vander Esch thrusts the veteran into the starting lineup with the team playing for playoff survival. The veteran is considered a coach on the field due to his knowledge, experience, and instincts but the Cowboys need him to play like an all-star in the middle against an Eagles' offense that's run like crazy with Jalen Hurts in the lineup. Lee has to be a major factor as a traffic cop and run stopper to plug some of the holes at the line of scrimmage in the running game. In addition, the veteran must be a factor against the pass between the hashes. Despite his athletic limitations as an aging player, the Cowboys need No.50 to re-emerge as the monster in the middle of the defense.
No Pro Bowlers?
For only the third time in franchise history, the Cowboys did not have a player selected to the Pro Bowl. The lack of representation on the team shouldn't come as a surprise based on the team's record and inconsistent play. Outside of Dak Prescott, the Cowboys' top players failed to consistently deliver five-star performances or play like elite performers at the respective positions. Without any Cowboys sitting at the top of the charts in individual statistical categories, it is hard to designate a player as an all-star on a team with a sub-.500 record. If the Cowboys want more Pro Bowlers on the list, they need to win and win big to populate this list with more players with the star on their helmets.
The Cowboys will take on the Philadelphia Eagles in their last home game of the regular season on Sunday, Dec. 27 at 3:25 p.m. A limited number of tickets are on sale now. Get yours now before they sell out!
Details on all of the health and safety procedures you can expect at AT&T Stadium can be viewed at www.DallasCowboys.com/safestadium.