Cowboys-Raiders Preview: Can Dallas Keep Slim Playoff Hopes Alive?

by | Dec 13, 2017 9 Football 9 Cowboys-Raiders Preview: Can Dallas Keep Slim Playoff Hopes Alive?

Posted on December 12, 2017, by Travis Pulver

The Dallas Cowboys did not play their best game last Sunday against the New York Giants, but they got it together in time to lock down a key victory, 30-10. With Eli Manning back at the helm, the Giants played a better game. But in the end, Dak Prescott brought it home with his first 300+ yard day of the season (a new career high, 332).


However, while the team’s playoff hopes are still alive, the chances are slim because of the amount of help they’ll need:

  • Atlanta needs to lose two (which is entirely possible with games against the Saints and Panthers remaining.
  • Seattle needs to lose one (and has tough ones ahead against the Rams and the Cowboys who will have Ezekiel Elliot back)
  • Detroit needs to lose one (Bears may be tough as could Green Bay with or without Aaron Rodgers), and
  • Green Bay needs to lose one (and has a pair of tough ones remaining against the Panthers and Vikings)

It is possible, but it is going to require a lot. But it will not matter if they can’t take care of business against the Oakland Raiders this week.

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So—who’s going to win?

The Debate

It all depends on which version of each team shows up to play.

Dallas has proven to be quite capable when the team wants to be. But at the same time, they can be ridiculously self-destructive. They played well enough for a half against the Falcons, Eagles, and Chargers but then did a 180 and played terribly for the other half.

Against the Washington Redskins, they appeared to click on offense and defense. But then the woeful Giants were able to keep it close for more than three-quarters Sunday. Had it not been for a 54-yard reception by Cole Beasley, an 81-yard touchdown catch and run by Rod Smith, and a pair of interceptions, Dallas may not have been able to pull out the win Sunday.

Then again, they made big plays on both sides of the ball when they needed to most. Isn’t that what good teams do? Good ones are able to overcome not playing well and still win the game.

If Dak Prescott can play like he did, if the receivers can catch, the offensive line can block, and Alfred Morris can break a few plays, the offenses will do its part against the Raiders. The defense is certainly capable, but they will need to put pressure on Derek Carr and not allow Marshawn Lynch any wiggle room.

They can— but only with most of the usual suspects healthy enough to play.

However, the Raiders are not exactly going to lie down and let the Cowboys win. Derek Carr is having a down year, but he is capable of breaking out at any time. It will be harder to do if Amari Cooper doesn’t play. But Cooper has had issues with dropping balls this season anyway. Marshawn Lynch has not had a good season. But he has shown in recent weeks that there is still a little magic left in him.


The question may be whether the defense can do enough to stop the Dallas offense. They struggled to do enough against the Geno Smith-led Giants to win and looked listless and apathetic against the Chiefs. They could have moved into a tie with the Chargers for the division lead had they won.

If that isn’t enough motivation, what will it take to get the best out of the Raiders?

The Prediction

This could be a trap game for the Dallas Cowboys. They could come out a little flat thinking this is going to be an easy one and then have Derek Carr catch fire and torch the defense for 400+ yards and four touchdowns.

But don’t expect that to happen here.

The Cowboys have had their backs against the wall to some extent for the entire season. At first, it was because of Ezekiel Elliot’s pending suspension. Eventually, it became about the actual suspension. Then there’s dealing with the expectations that come with last season’s 13-3 finish.

They haven’t always handled things well. But they appear to be getting on track and finding their stride at the right time. Look for them to make a statement with a big win over the Raiders in Oakland. The Cowboys are favored by three but will win by at least seven.


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