At 4-9, the Cowboys trail the rest of the NFC East by two games with three to play. At 8-5, the New York Jets are in the running for an AFC Wild Card spot.
Can the Cowboys maintain slim playoff hopes with a win over the Jets? DallasCowboys.com staff writers Nick Eatman, David Helman, Bryan Broaddus and Rob Phillips give their gut feelings for the Week 15 matchup in primetime at AT&T Stadium.
Nick Eatman: At this point in the season, it seems like the fans are split right down the middle. Half of them still see the Cowboys winning the last three games and making a run at the NFC East title. The other half has no hope and is tired of being teased about a team that had so much hope to start the season. Either way, we'll probably find out one way or another just where this team stands after Saturday night. I know the Jets have a good defense, maybe as good as any team the Cowboys have faced this year. But let's not forget that Dallas can play well on defense – at least for a while. I think if the Jets get up early, it could get ugly once the full 60 minutes expires. If the Cowboys can somehow find a way to stay close or have the lead, then things can get interesting. And that's really what this season has been – interesting. Nothing has been easy for the Cowboys so therefore, so why would this be easy now? Because it's been such a crazy year, I'm saying Dallas wins this game and plays one of its best non-Romo games of the year. I don't the offense lights it up by any means but the defense will be the best defense on the field. Dan Bailey will kick at least three field goals and the Cowboys will somehow find a way to keep this rollercoaster on the track for another week. Give me the Cowboys, 19-17.
David Helman: The New York Jets don't strike me as a particularly pretty football team, but they certainly get results. They match up perfectly with the Cowboys, given that they're the best in the NFL at stopping the run. The Jets are allowing just 78 rushing yards per game, so it's hard to imagine them letting Darren McFadden run wild at AT&T Stadium. Their pass defense is ranked just 18th in the league, which is admittedly not great – but then again, neither is the Dallas passing attack. The Cowboys average 207 passing yards, which is good enough for 29th in the league. I expect the Jets to clamp down on McFadden and dare Cassel to beat them, and I don't think he'll be able to. On the other side of the ball, the Dallas defense should be up to the task of limiting a good-but-not-great Jets offense. I think they'll put up a spirited effort, but their inability to get takeaways – coupled with the offense's inability to move the ball – ultimately results in a loss. The Jets will score twice in the fourth quarter to make the score look more decisive than it actually was – something like 27-9.
Bryan Broaddus:This game has a Carolina feel to me. I really don't like the matchups with this New York Jets defense against what the Cowboys are going to once again roll with and Matt Cassel. I can just see this Jets defense making it difficult for the Cowboys to successfully run the ball then it puts the game in Cassel's hands through the air. This bothers me because even when guys get open, he has had trouble getting them the ball. My gut feeling is that this Jets defense will be too much for Cassel to deal with and moving the ball and scoring points will not be possible. Jets win 26-7 on the strength of their defense.
Rob Phillips: I agree that on paper, this Jets defense isn't a good matchup for Matt Cassel. Real quick, let's flip to the other side of the ball. Since the NFL expanded the regular-season schedule to 16 games in 1978, did you know no team has finished a season with single-digit takeaways? The Cowboys have eight with three games left. My bold prediction is the defense forces two turnovers to reach double-digits for the year, and the offense turns those two short fields into scores for a 17-14 win. Unconvinced? This gut feeling includes some apprehension, too, because the Cowboys are 2-of-20 on third down in the last two games and this week they're facing one of the league's best pressure defenses. Cassel will need a lot of help from his defense and special teams, and maybe this is the week some bounces go their way at home. The Cowboys haven't won at AT&T Stadium in three months – the season opener against the Giants. Perhaps they're due, but they'll have to earn it.