NEW ORLEANS, LA - NOVEMBER 10: Quarterback Tony Romo #9 of the Dallas Cowboys celebrates with head coach Jason Garrett after a touchdown in the second quarter against the New Orleans Saints during a game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on November 10, 2013 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
The Cowboys are fresh out of excuses.
They’ve been battle-hardened via the heartbreaks of do-or-die losses in consecutive seasons. They play in the NFL’s weakest division. And, after just two games over 28 days, they’ll be rested and ready for the December drive.
Yes, it is playoffs or bust for this year’s Cowboys.
Tony Romo is healthy and playing at an elite level. Dez Bryant is in good form. Jason Witten is Ring-of-Honor tight end. And against the Bears on Monday night, their best defensive player (Sean Lee) and best special teams player (Dwayne Harris) will return from injury. This, in other words, is the Cowboys’ best chance to win the NFC East since 2009.
Even better, the record of their four remaining opponents is 21-26-1. And, should this season – like the last two – come down to an NFC East Championship Game, it will be played Dec. 29 at AT&T Stadium against an opponent they’ve already beaten this season.
Seventeen of the Cowboys’ 22 starters Monday night suffered through the last two Decembers, when 8-6 records deteriorated into two-game losing streaks an missing the playoffs.
At 7-5, the Cowboys need two wins to earn the playoffs. With a foundation of Romo and Witten and DeMarcus Ware and Jason Garrett, the window is indeed closing.
But heading to Chicago, it’s wide open.
A native Texan who was born in Duncanville and graduated from UT-Arlington, Richie Whitt has been a mainstay in the Metroplex media since 1986. He’s held prominent roles on all media platforms including newspaper (Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Dallas Observer), radio (105.3 The Fan) and TV (co-host on TXA 21 and numerous guest appearances, including NBC 5). He currently writes a sports/guy stuff blog at DFWSportatorium.com and lives in McKinney with his fiancee, Sybil, and two very spoiled dogs.