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Need a Reason for Hope?

Last year's Panthers were in same boat and made playoffs

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    PHILADELPHIA, PA - SEPTEMBER 20: Tony Romo #9 of the Dallas Cowboys looks to pass in the second quarter against the Philadelphia Eagles on September 20, 2014 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

    Last year, the Carolina Panthers appeared to be dead in the water.

    At 3-8-1, they were performing well beyond expectations, and then Cam Newton, a stout running game and a bad (as in good) defense got on a roll and ran the table, and even won a Wild Card game before losing to Seattle in the divisional round in a nail-biter.

    All the Panthers have done this year is race out to a 9-0 record, meaning since that time they were 3-8-1, they've gone 14-1, with that one loss coming in that playoff game to the NFC champs.

    So, can the Cowboys duplicate it? Well, they play in a bad enough division and are only two games out in the loss column to the Giants, who have the most difficult remaining schedule among the teams in the East. They're getting Tony Romo back this week, and with the exception of that Patriots loss, they've been right in the hunt for all of the games in this seven-game skid.

    The Cowboys' defense is supposed to be good this year, and now they need to begin playing like it. Now Dez Bryant is back at seemingly as full strength as he'll get this year, and the Cowboys have their leader back under center and someone who can finally spread the ball around to all of the Cowboys' offensive weapons.

    The Cowboys' running game has been effective because of the offensive line, and if Darren McFadden can hold up, it could continue to be good.

    Not saying it's going to happen, but there is a precedent. Don't give up just yet, right?