DALLAS — With the Dallas Cowboys currently sitting in last place in the NFC East, there are two types of fans of the team at the moment. There are the observers of one of the worst teams in recent franchise history who are fully on Team Tank, where they hope to see the Cowboys lose – and other bad teams win – in order to secure a top pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. If they’re going to lose, the theory goes, they might as well do it spectacularly so they can gain something from an otherwise miserable season.
On the opposing side, there’s the group that is still holding out hope that Dallas can right the ship just enough to squeak out the wins needed to make an improbable run at the postseason. With the state of the NFC East being historically bad, those rooting for victory believe that the team can still win the division and make the playoffs. Yet, even if the Cowboys don’t, they still want to see their team win football games.
Both sides have merit. It’s hard to root for your favorite team to lose, especially against rival teams in the division. However, winning enough games to possibly make the playoffs is a longshot at best and, even if the Cowboys did manage that miracle, it’s hard to see them making a deep postseason run.
As a reminder: The stated goal of this organization is not just to make the playoffs. Jerry Jones has made it clear that he wants to see the Cowboys make it back to the Super Bowl. At 2-7 and on their fourth starting quarterback, this isn’t a team capable of making a championship run regardless of what the other teams do in an inept division. Therefore, losing games becomes an advantageous situation for the Cowboys as they look to the future.
The Team Tank vs Win At All Costs debate comes up because a bye week for Dallas gave fans something to root for yesterday no matter which side of the spectrum they fall on. With the Cowboys taking the week off, there were games to pay attention to that will dictate the options that Dallas has going forward.
For example, the New York Giants got their third win of the season on Sunday by beating the East-leading Philadelphia Eagles and it helped both sides of the equation for the Cowboys. The victory for the Giants gave them one more win than Dallas, but it also kept the Cowboys just one win behind in the race for the division.
It’s also always nice to watch the Eagles flail in a losing effort, so that was a bonus.
Another rival, the Washington Football Team, lost a close game to the Detroit Lions. This appeased the keep winning Cowboys fans because it kept the Football Team from having three wins and dropped them to the same 2-7 record as Dallas.
However, Team Tank wasn’t happy to see Washington unable to escape Detroit with a win. For those looking at the draft standings, it would’ve been nice to have a cushion in the race for a better draft pick. As it stands, after Week 10, the Cowboys still hold the third overall pick and the Football Team is sitting right behind them at fourth.
Away from the division, tanking fans had interest in four other games as they continue to watch for the best draft pick possible. There was faint hope that the Cincinnati Bengals or Jacksonville Jaguars could pull off big road upsets but, even though the Jaguars came close in their game at the Green Bay Packers, both teams lost. The Jags are stuck on one win and are ahead of the Cowboys in the draft order, while the Bengals stayed just outside the top five following a big loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The other two games of note were also both road contests but it didn’t seem as improbable for the Houston Texans or Los Angeles Chargers to come away with wins. Nevertheless, both teams failed to secure victory and each remained breathing down Dallas’ neck at No. 5 (Chargers) and No. 6 (Miami Dolphins pick, via the Texans) in the respective draft order.
Both Houston and Los Angeles have the same number of wins as Dallas with seven games remaining, so it’s worth keeping an eye on how they perform the rest of the way.
Just like how there’s no real offseason in football, there’s no real bye week for your team. The players might be off, but there’s always something to root for during the 17 scheduled weeks in the NFL. The Cowboys got mixed results during their bye week, no matter which side of the fence you’re on with regards to how you’d prefer this season play out.
Dallas stayed in the NFC East race, while also keeping their grip on the third overall pick for now.
How are you feeling about the Dallas Cowboys now that they’ve had a week off? Share your thoughts with Ben on Twitter @BenGrimaldi.