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Cowboys-Titans: Will anything be different about Dallas in playoffs this year?

The Cowboys are having another winning season, but can they win when it matters?

Dallas Cowboys v Los Angeles Rams Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

The Dallas Cowboys should beat the Tennessee Titans on Thursday. They’re a better football team. But can they win when it matters?

It’s been over 25 years since the Cowboys last got past the divisional round of the playoffs. Dallas has gone 10-6 or better in 1996, 1998, 2003, 2007, 2009, 2014, 2016, 2018, 2021, and they’re currently 11-4. But the Cowboys have gone 0-6 in divisional round playoff games in that period of time, four times winning at least 12 games but they’ve lost a home playoff game in each of those seasons, including 23-17 to the San Francisco 49ers in 2021.

What’s going to be different about 2022-23?

Whether the head coach was Barry Switzer (the last to take the Cowboys to the Super Bowl), Chan Gailey, Bill Parcells, Wade Phillips, Jason Garrett, or Mike McCarthy, it hasn’t mattered. Whether the quarterback has been Troy Aikman, Quincy Carter, Tony Romo, or Dak Prescott, it hasn’t mattered. The Cowboys had the number one defense in 2003, it hasn’t mattered. They had the number one offense last year, and it didn’t matter.

Can a weaker NFC playoff field be the difference this time? It hasn’t been enough for Dallas to even win the NFC East. They’re still looking up at the 13-2 Eagles. Philadelphia hasn’t clinched the NFC East quite yet, but if Dallas loses to the Titans on Thursday, that conversation will be over. In most cases, the Cowboys are likely going to be a wild card team and going on the road.

Since there isn’t another wild card team as good as them, and no division winner as bad as whoever comes out of the NFC South, we can easily predict the first round of their playoff trip: They’re going to probably face Tom Brady in Tampa Bay in the first round. If they can take care of business against the Buccaneers, then it is onto Philadelphia or Minnesota or San Francisco.

Are the Cowboys likely to beat any of those teams on the road in the playoffs? Or is it just the same old story for “America’s team from the ‘90s”?

Discuss during Thursday Night Football in the comments.