Halfway through the 2012 NFL season, the Dallas Cowboys are not where they want to be.
The Cowboys are 3-5 and in third place in the NFC East. With eight games left on the schedule, time is running out for Dallas. They’re 2.5 games behind the New York Giants in the division, and could be out of the playoff picture with a few more losses.
Dallas’ 19-13 loss to the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday Night Football left them with a very small margin of error. Assuming that they would need to win at least nine games to have a chance of earning a postseason berth, they can only afford to lose two more games this year.
With the Cowboys needing to be close to perfect the rest of the way, is their season already over?
It’s not impossible to think that Dallas could go 6-2 or 7-1 in their last eight games. The Giants won six straight games in the 2011 season en route to a Super Bowl victory, after going 7-7. If the Cowboys get hot, they can do enough to sneak into the playoffs.
However, the Cowboys have yet to show that they have a similar run in them. Teams like the Giants and Green Bay Packers, that have made similar runs in recent seasons, did so with an elite quarterback. In 2012, Tony Romo may be proving that he is not a player who can lead a franchise.
Romo has often been criticized for putting up big numbers, but faltering in key situations. This year, he isn’t even lighting up the stat sheet.
Statistically, Romo is having a poor season. He’s thrown 13 interceptions to his 10 touchdowns, and has the lowest quarterback rating of his career. If he doesn’t turn his play around, the Cowboys have no chance of making the playoffs.
In Dallas’ last two losses, they’ve been without DeMarco Murray. The running back suffered an injury in Week 6, but could return to the field in Week 10 against the Eagles. Perhaps getting Murray back will help jumpstart the beleaguered club.
With the Giants well ahead of the Cowboys, a division title may be out of reach for Dallas. A wild card spot may still be in play, but it won’t be easy to obtain. The Packers and Chicago Bears have only four combined losses atop the NFC North, and will likely both make the postseason. That leaves just one open spot for the Cowboys.
Six teams, that aren’t leading their respective division, are ahead of the Cowboys in the NFC Standings. While Dallas is just 1.5 games behind the Seattle Seahawks for the sixth and final playoff spot, they’re going to need several teams to falter in the coming weeks.
Even if the Cowboys go on a big winning streak, they don’t control their own destiny. Of all the teams that are ahead of them in the wild card race, the Eagles are the only team that is on their remaining schedule.
Fans of the Cowboys shouldn’t give up yet. They have a top five pass defense, a running back that can potentially be one of the best in football, and a quarterback that has been successful in the past.
While it’s certainly possible for the Cowboys to make a run in the second half of the season, it’s not likely.