After their week 12 loss on Thanksgiving to Washington, the Cowboys didn’t look like a complete football team. All momentum that the Cowboys had from their victory against the Vikings was lost by the third quarter. With another loss, this brings their season record to 3-8. Is it time for the Cowboys to move on and look forward to next season?
Although the Cowboys are only one game behind the New York Giants and Washington Football Team, their division record (1-3) doesn’t benefit them. Having a solid division record is a key tiebreaker when determining a division winner if teams have the same record and split the season series. With Dallas at 3-8, should the Cowboys tank the rest of the way?
Let’s take a look at the Cowboys’ likelihood of tanking and to win the division.
If the season ended today, the Dallas Cowboys would own the fourth overall pick in the 2021 NFL draft. The last time the Cowboys held a pick that high in a draft was in 2016 when they arguably had their best draft in recent years. They selected Ezekiel Elliott fourth overall with Jaylon Smith in the second round and Dak Prescott in the fourth round. These players have proved to be difference makers and showed that one bad season could boost your team’s chance the next season.
The Cowboys could be in business next season if they can land a top-five pick. According to ESPN, the Cowboys have the fourth-best odds to land inside the top five (49.7 percent). The teams with betters odds than the Cowboys are the Jets, Jaguars and the Bengals. They also would own early-round picks in the following rounds.
Is this the best plan for the Cowboys?
Yes, it certainly is. They will be able to get one of the best premier players in the draft while still competing next season. In recent years, the Cowboys have been able to find gems in the first round. Their last six first-round picks are CeeDee Lamb, Leighton Vander Esch, Taco Charlton, Byron Jones, Ezekiel Elliott and Zack Martin. Only Charlton wasn’t a solid pick for the Cowboys.
If the Cowboys can secure a top-five pick, they would primarily focus on their defense. Although the Cowboys could select one of the top offensive linemen in the draft, the defense is a team need.
With the Cowboys lost to Washington on Thursday, their playoff chances went from 23 percent to a mere 10 percent. They were in the driver’s seat as their schedule was fairly easy the rest of the way. However, with that loss, Draft Kings gives the Cowboys a +700 to win the NFC East (worst odds in the division).
Even though their odds are the worst in the division, their schedule is the easiest amongst the three other teams. The Cowboys have a .488 strength of schedule among their remaining five opponents and only face one team above .500, the Baltimore Ravens. As for the Giants, Eagles and Washington, they each play at least two teams above .500.
With the Cowboys facing the Ravens, Bengals, 49ers, Eagles and Giants, they still have a legitimate shot at the division title. The Cowboys’ remaining opponents have a combined record of just 20-32-2. This division is still up for grabs and if the Cowboys can play as they did against the Vikings, they will win the NFC East.
Tank or Division Title?
Will the Cowboys purposely tank?
No, but they are better off losing the majority of their remaining games. Without their star quarterback, Dak Prescott, the Cowboys won’t be a legitimate contender this season. Additionally, their superstar offensive lineman, Zack Martin, suffered a calf injury and is expected to miss 3-4 weeks, but could be shut down for the season.
According to ESPN, the Cowboys have a better chance to get a top-five pick than win the NFC East.
This season is a lost year for the Cowboys as injuries have hurt them tremdousously. As a result, tanking is the best option for Dallas. Next season, the Cowboys will be able to get their injured players back as well as acquire a top-five player in the draft.
Featured Image Courtesy of ESPN