Over the past few days I have heard several people say that the Cowboys are desperate to win tomorrow's game against the Chiefs. Some of my closest friends in the business are calling this a must win. Well, with all due respect to my colleagues, this is not a must win. It's an important win. But it is not a must win.
I don’t think that there is a game of desperation in Week 13 of the NFL season. Things have to get a lot worse before we can call it a desperate situation. Let me tell you something, it is possible that the Cowboys could lose their next two games and still make the playoffs.
That’s right. I think that a 9-7 team will make the NFC playoffs. And depending on the way the other contenders finish out the Cowboys could lose the next two and sneak in to the playoffs. Hey, Atlanta, Carolina and Tampa Bay still have to play loads of games against each other. Somebody is going to lose those games.
Is tomorrow’s game important to the Cowboys? Of course it is. It is a very important game. But I will stop short of calling it a game of desperation.
It is an important game because it is a home game. And NFL contenders win at home. That’s all there is to it. Contenders simply do not get beat at home. If this Cowboys team is a contender, then this is a game that you win at home.
Kansas City is a good team that is playing well right now. They are in the tougher conference and have played some very good teams. But, once again, if the Cowboys are for real this is a game that they should win.
In order to beat Kansas City, the Cowboys are going to have to play one of their better games of the year. They cannot make mistakes and they are going to have to capitalize on any and all opportunities that they are given.
Dallas has a problem this weekend though. Kansas City is what I call 4 by 4 team. Kansas City rushes for more than 4 yards per carry and Dallas allows more than 4 yards per carry. What you’ve got is a Kansas City team that will have a lot of 3rd and shorts. While the Cowboys, if everything remains the same, will be facing a lot of 3rd and longs.
This is not the recipe for a victory. The bottomline is that if the Cowboys do not run the ball well enough to stay out of 3rd and long situations, they simply are not going to win the game. On 3rd and long, the Kansas City defense will nail the immobile Drew Bledsoe.
On the offensive side of the ball this game hinges on the Cowboys ability to keep Bledsoe out of 3rd and long. On the defensive side, the Cowboys must stop Larry Johnson and the Chiefs running game. The Chiefs make plays on the ground. They have a very solid running game that has not missed a beat since Priest Holmes went down. Larry Johnson is capable of consistently running for 4 yards per carry and he is also capable of breaking a long run every once in awhile. The Cowboys cannot allow this to happen.
No, it is not a time of desperation for the Cowboys. But it is a time to step up and prove that they are a true contender. It was nice to compete with Denver and New York the past couple of weeks. But Champions don’t just compete. Champions win.