As the Cowboys enjoy the bye week and try to get healthy, let's take a minute to look at some positives for this 5-5 team:

  • The Boys are tied for first place in the NFC East and currently hold a 3-0 division record.
  • The combined record of their remaining opponents: 24-31.
  • Despite the offense's recent struggles, the Cowboys are fourth in the league in scoring at 27.4 points per game.
  • The week off will allow DeMarcus Ware, Jason Hatcher, Dez Bryant and the litany of other players on the team a chance to rest for the Giants.
  • Dallas is No. 2 in the league in turnover margin (+11).
  • Thanks to special teams' hero Dwayne Harris, Dallas is No. 2 in the NFL with 28.9 kickoff return average and No. 4 in punt returns (14.3).
  • With five touchdown receptions, Terrence Williams is tied for 17th in the league with Andre Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald and only one behind A.J. Green.
  • In last week's game against the Saints, DeMarco Murray looked to be healthy as he rushed for 89 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries.

It is easy to be frustrated with this team that seems destined to be 8-8 for the third consecutive season, but they are still in first place and every game left on the schedule is winnable. As of right now, I would say the road games against the Giants and Bears will be the toughest left on the schedule, with the Packers (Aaron Rodgers will be healthy) game at home not too far behind. If the team is going to the playoffs, they will need wins against the Raiders, Redskins and Eagles at minimum.

Issues the team needs to address for the stretch run:

  • Dallas is 30th in the league at converting third downs (32.8%).
  • A healthy Murray should go a long way to helping balance the offense and taking pressure off of Romo, but the running game currently ranks 28th in the league at 77 yards per game.
  • The defense is historically bad as they are nearly on pace to break the record for most yards allowed in a season (New Orleans, 2012). The defense currently ranks 32nd in total defense, 32nd in passing defense, 28th in rushing defense, 23rd in points allowed and 23rd in opponents' passer rating.

With Dallas on bye, the game to watch is the 3:25 p.m. matchup of Giants vs. Packers. New York is currently on a three-game winning streak and now get Green Bay minus Aaron Rodgers at home. With a win, the Giants are only one game behind Dallas who they get at home next Sunday.

Eddie Middlebrook is the co-host of 'Chin Music' and VP of Media for ShutDowninning. He can be reached at Eddie.Middlebrook@ShutDowninning.comor on Twitter@emiddlebrook.

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