It’s time to accept the bitter reality many fans don’t want to face.
The Dallas Cowboys are not very good this year.
There are issues from top to bottom. Injuries, suspensions, and poor coaching highlight a long list of problems. You would be hard-pressed to point the finger at just one person because frankly, just about everyone on the team has been bad at some point this year.
Dak Prescott had his worst game as a pro against Philadelphia, throwing three interceptions for a QBR of 30.4. Tyron Smith, Sean Lee and Dan Bailey – three All-Pros – are all sidelined with injuries. Ezekiel Elliott, last season's leading rusher, is suspended.
Dallas' secondary is young and inexperienced. Jason Garrett has either been unable or unwilling to make second half adjustments, as the Cowboys have been outscored 110-23 in the second half in their five losses.
The laundry list goes on.
And even through all these issues, Dallas still has a shot at making the playoffs. Stay with me for a second. Let me explain.
For the Cowboys to sneak into the playoffs as one of the wild cards, they will likely need to end the year with a record of 10-6. This means finishing the season 5-1, which is no doubt a tall order.
But if you look at Dallas' remaining schedule, it may not be totally impossible. The Cowboys host the 4-6 Chargers on Thanksgiving and then draw the 4-6 Redskins at home on Thursday night. Dallas has already beaten Washington on the road this season.
If they can dispatch the Los Angeles and Washington and get to 7-5, Dallas hits the road for a layup against the lowly 2-8 Giants. Assuming they take care of business – which at this point is a big if – the Cowboys would be 8-5 with games at Oakland, home against Seattle and at Philadelphia remaining.
The Raiders have been almost as inconsistent as Dallas this year, and lost 33-8 to New England last week. Oakland is 4-6 and just 2-3 at home. It's another game the Cowboys should win but that's no longer a guarantee.
The Cowboys could lose one of their remaining games and still finish 10-6. And, should they make it past Oakland in good shape, let’s not forget Dallas will also get Elliott back for the games remaining at the end of the year against the Seahawks and Eagles.
Currently, the Cowboys are on the outside of the playoff picture looking in, with Seattle owning the sixth playoff spot at 6-3. A slew of other teams, including the Lions at 6-4, Falcons at 5-4 and Packers at 5-5 are all in the hunt.
Atlanta and Green Bay own the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Cowboys, as do the first place Rams, who still have time to slip up and fall back into wild card contention.
One more mishap for the Cowboys, however, could prove fatal. Time is running out for Dallas to inch back into postseason conversation. The cards are definitely stacked against them, but given the Cowboys' somewhat manageable remaining six games, it's possible they could be playing come January.
Just don't be surprised if they aren't.
Do you think the Cowboys will make the playoffs this season? Share your predictions with Reece on Twitter @ReeceWaddell15.