The Cowboys woke up yesterday morning in first place in the NFC East and in the driver’s seat with the #2 seed and at least one home playoff game. Then they had to play a football game against the Bills in Orchard Park. After being demolished 31-10 in a game that wasn’t nearly as close as the final score indicates, Dallas finds itself looking up at the Eagles in the division and holding the #5 seed. That means they’re the road team in the playoffs. And that is not good for the Cowboys.
Dallas is a completely different team on the road. The Cowboys are 3-4 on the road this season, average 18 points per game lower on the road than they do at home, and still haven’t beaten a team with a winning record away from AT&T Stadium. Two of the three teams they’ve beaten on the road have fired their coaches. The Cowboys have the number one offense in the NFL, blowing out scoreboard lights and racking up huge numbers against the league’s worst teams in Arlington. But they can’t compete when they’re playing a good team on the road.
Buffalo hasn’t looked this good all year. From the opening snap, they smashmouthed the Cowboys up and down the field. They ran for 266 rushing yards, mostly up the middle, mostly through gigantic holes and weak arm tackles. Fifty rushes for over five yards per carry. James Cook? Unstoppable.
By the way, the next time any team wins the coin toss before a game with the Cowboys and decides to give Dallas the ball, that team should be banned from the league for egregious stupidity. Philly tried that against Dallas last week and paid dearly. Buffalo won the toss yesterday, took the ball, scored on their first drive, and ran the ball down the Cowboys’ throats the rest of the game.
This Cowboys team is built to score first and then defend against the pass while the opponent plays catchup. Their strength is their pass rush, but it’s rendered useless if the other team’s not passing. Those quick DBs can cover receivers, but they’re no good tackling a 260 pound running back on a power sweep. If the opponent scores first, the Cowboys are lost.
Ten times this year a Cowboys opponent has run the ball fewer than 28 times and lost. Four times the Cowboys opponent has run the ball more than 28 times and won. The Cowboys record is 10-4. Yes, you can run the ball right at these guys. And you can bet the Dolphins will this coming Sunday.
All that is reason for concern for Cowboys fans who have been saying, “No, this really is the year!” for the 28th straight season now. But this home/road thing is also a major problem. It’s hard to keep calling yourself America’s Team when you can’t play outside your own state.