For the second consecutive year and third in the last four, the Cowboys enter Week 6 of the NFL season at a crossroads. They are, like they were in 2017 and like they were in 2015, 2-3 and lurking on the periphery of the NFC playoff picture. Win Sunday in Arlington against the Jaguars and the schedule sets up for a potential slog to the playoffs. Lose and 2018 is effectively done — this year's Cowboys are not going to turn 2-4 into 10-6.
For the benefit of the team, its future and your general well-being, you should root for Blake Bortles, Jalen Ramsey & Co. to finish the Cowboys off.
Let's game this out. Let's say Dak Prescott doesn't throw two deflected interceptions, Ezekiel Elliott gets his groove back on the ground and the Cowboys' young defense continues to improve Sunday afternoon, leading to an ugly, but satisfying, victory over Jacksonville.
That would set up the Cowboys well for the next couple of games, as they travel to Washington to take on the Redskins, then after their bye, face Tennessee at home on Monday night in Week 9. The Redskins, as demonstrated during their blowout loss to the Saints on Monday, are inept, and the Titans are just the type of team the Cowboys should be able to beat in an ugly slog.
The Cowboys could wake up halfway through the season at 5-3, fully capable of duplicating that record over the second half against a favorable schedule that includes the Redskins, Giants, Colts and Buccaneers (but Philly twice). It's not likely, but there's a path there for the Cowboys to make the NFL's postseason tournament, and it starts with beating the Jags.
Alternatively, Jacksonville, 3-2, could wake up from a sleepy first month-plus and wax the Cowboys, sending them to 2-4 and well on their way to a lost season. If the Cowboys split their last 10 games, they finish 7-9.
Under the first scenario, the Cowboys get, at best, a wild-card weekend home game thanks to winning a down NFC East. They could even win it, thanks to conference-wide near-parity this season. In the next game, however, or maybe the one after it, they would get taken apart by the Rams, the NFL's best team. The Rams are exactly what the Cowboys are not — staffed with playmakers on both sides of the ball and blessed with a creative, gutsy head coach, Sean McVay, who plays to win games, not to avoid embarrassment.
So that's the best case. The Cowboys win a single playoff game after making their fans suffer through all the will they/won't they permutations over the last couple weeks of the season. Don't forget, Jason Garrett also keeps his job under this scenario, for leading these underachievers to the playoffs.
Or the Cowboys could lose Sunday. It's hard to imagine, after the chain of events that inevitably would ensue, that Garrett keeps his job. The Cowboys would pick five spots or so higher in the draft, and their fans could focus on their fantasy teams down the stretch, rather than the Eagles' injury situation. Everyone gets a chance to reset and focus on making the best of the $72 million in cap room the Cowboys are set to have in 2019.
Be careful what you wish for.
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