The Dallas Cowboys have underperformed against good teams this season, and their toughest challenge yet will come Sunday against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium.
Just how good are the Cowboys? It's tough to paint a definitive picture through 10 games.
The Cowboys are 6-4 and tied with the rival Philadelphia Eagles atop the NFC East standings. Dallas has played only four teams with winning records, including matchups versus the Green Bay Packers, New Orleans Saints, Minnesota Vikings and Eagles. Dallas' only win came against the Eagles.
The Patriots are 9-1 and occupy the No. 1 seed in the AFC playoff race entering Week 12. Patriots quarterback Tom Brady has never lost to the Cowboys in four career matchups, and New England's defense is arguably the best unit in the league.
Cowboys tight end Jason Witten did not mince words when asked earlier this week about the importance of Sunday's game.
“There are defining games that happen. You look at last year’s season ... and you beat a good New Orleans team. This is one of those games," Cowboys tight end Jason Witten said, via Michael Gehlken of the Dallas Morning News. "There’s still a lot of games out there, so I don’t think it’s make or break. But at the same time, to be able to go on the road and play against Tom Brady and Bill Belichick and their team — they’re 9-1 like they are. A great opportunity for us."
A victory over the Patriots could be just what the Cowboys need to go on a late season run entering the playoffs. Dallas has played better of late, winning three of its last four games following a 3-3 start. The Cowboys' margin for error is pretty slim, though. The only way for Dallas to reach the playoffs likely will be through the NFC East title. A wild card berth doesn't look realistic at this point. The Cowboys have a tough schedule coming up, too, with matchups against the Patriots, Chicago Bears, Los Angeles Rams and Eagles still remaining.
Sunday's matchup isn't a must-win for the Cowboys from a mathematical standpoint, but it's by far the biggest game they've played all season and will give us a better view of their true potential.
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