Read & React: How high can the Cowboys fly?


[This is Tuesday morning’s lead story in Yahoo Sports’ free Read & React email newsletter. Subscribe now to get the best sports news delivered to you every weekday morning at 8 a.m. ET.]

Good morning! Did you catch the game last night? It was a real rarity — a primetime NFC East showdown. Man, we never get those.

Anyway, we got to see yet another iteration of the Dallas Cowboys. Not the world-beating studs of the first three games, or the hapless chumps of the next three, this version of America's Team is a somewhat competent, barely-good-enough-to-win collection that's not going to go far in the postseason playing like this ... if, indeed, Dallas even makes it that far.

In front of a mostly moribund MetLife Stadium crowd, Dallas knocked off the Giants 37-18 in a penalty-ridden, scuffle-filled game that was a lot closer than the final score. Yes, Ezekiel Elliott had little trouble pushing his way through the doughy Giants defense. Dak Prescott stopped floating passes long enough to connect on three touchdowns, including a fourth-quarter beauty to Amari Cooper and the acrobatic gem to Michael Gallup pictured below.

But still. The Giants carved up the Dallas defense between the 20s, and a more competent red zone team would have had at least another eight to 12 points, given how many times New York reached the shadow of the goalposts. Dallas feasted on Giants miscues and boneheaded penalties, the kinds of mistakes a sharper team won't make.

(Unrelated to the Cowboys: A black cat ran across the field just before halftime, but bringing bad luck to the Giants is just like piling on. So we'll focus on Dallas.)

This wasn't how it was supposed to go. The Elliott/Cooper/Prescott trifecta was supposed to be the centerpiece of a balanced Cowboy attack, the heir to the old Aikman/Smith/Irvin championship trio of the '90s. Dallas wasn't a dead-solid guarantee to make the Super Bowl, but you wouldn't get laughed off your group text back in August if you'd predicted them for the NFC championship.

Dallas Cowboys receiver Michael Gallup, gettin' up. (Getty)

Now, though? Not even close. The Saints, Seahawks, 49ers, Packers and Rams would all be heavy favorites over Dallas, and the Vikings and a healthy Eagles team could get the nod, too.

Aside from the shabby on-field execution, here's one real problem Dallas faces: it has one of the tougher schedules in the NFL remaining, much tougher than Philadelphia. While the Eagles can get fat on dates with the Giants (twice) and Redskins, Dallas has New England, Minnesota and the Rams ahead, as well as those same Eagles.

Jerry Jones has made no secret of the fact that he believes this is the most talented Cowboys team in a generation. But if Dallas doesn't deliver on its vast preseason promise and Texas-sized contracts, this team will go down as one of Dallas's most disappointing.

[This is Tuesday morning’s lead story in Yahoo Sports’ free Read & React email newsletter. Subscribe now to get the best sports news delivered to you every weekday morning at 8 a.m. ET.]

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Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at jay.busbee@yahoo.com or find him on Twitter or on Facebook.

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