(Editor's Note: DallasCowboys.com senior writer and pro wrestling aficionado Rob Phillips' new column, "Figure 4," identifies four key statistics each week that impact the Cowboys' on-field performance.)
FRISCO, Texas – If you're looking for exact, to-the-number playoff percentages/odds for your Dallas Cowboys, I'm not your guy. Blame my "Aggie Math."
I do know, like you guys, that the Cowboys still have a crack at the postseason if they win their final three games and get a little help from their friends around the league.
That's where we start this week's stats column:
1. The 10-Win Theory
Yes, the Cowboys (7-6) still have an opportunity to win at least 10 games in consecutive seasons for the first time since 1996.
There's a general feeling around the league that a 10-6 record typically punches your playoff ticket.
How true is that?
It's common but not a stone-cold lock.
Since the NFL realigned divisions in 2002, five NFC teams in the last 16 seasons won at least 10 games and still did not qualify for the postseason:
2014 – Eagles (10-6); wild-card teams: Cardinals and Lions (11-5)
2013 – Cardinals (10-6); wild-card teams: 49ers (12-4) and Saints (11-5)
2012 – Bears (10-6); wild-card teams: Seahawks (11-5) and Vikings (10-6)
2010 – Giants (10-6) and Bucs (10-6); wild-card teams: Saints (11-5) and Packers (10-6)
The Cowboys aren't guaranteed a spot even if they run the table against the Raiders, Seahawks and Eagles. But, in the words of Lloyd Christmas … yeah, I'm saying there's a chance.
2. Musical (NFC East) Chairs
We've mentioned before on Talkin' Cowboys that no team (Cowboys, Eagles, Redskins or Giants) have repeated as NFC East champions since the McNabb-era Eagles won three in a row from 2003-05.
Sounds like the definition of parity, right? Here's more proof:
Since 2005, every defending NFC East champion has missed the postseason the following year.That means the Cowboys still have an outside chance to become the first team since the 2004 Eagles to make the playoffs one year after winning the East.
It's a cyclical league where free agency (by design, by the way) has blurred the lines between powerhouse and cellar-dweller. Parity keeps fans hopeful year after year – and makes it tougher for teams to stay at contender status year after year.
3. Rod Smith's Rise
How good was running back Rod Smith's career performance against the Giants last Sunday?
The NFL announced that Smith is the first player in league history to record an 80-yard touchdown catch and a rushing touchdown in the fourth quarter of game.
Smith continues to maximize his opportunities with one game remaining until Ezekiel Elliott returns from suspension.
4. Fast Carr
Sunday's opponent, the Raiders, haven't been as consistent offensively as last season when they ranked sixth in total offense. Oakland (6-7) has averaged only 12.9 points in their seven losses.
But quarterback Derek Carr still has the ability to dominate a game with precision passing. According to the Raiders, Carr has thrown a touchdown pass in 14 straight games – and he needs only one more to reach 100 in his four-year career, the fastest in Raiders history (60 games).