From 3-5 to division champions, Cowboys clinch NFC East title

Frank Schwab

Back in early November, it seemed like if the Dallas Cowboys were going to make a huge headline in Week 16, it would be for firing head coach Jason Garrett.

In one of the more remarkable turnarounds of the NFL season, the Cowboys went from 3-5 to NFC East champions. The Cowboys were a virtual lock to get the division title after beating the Eagles in overtime two weeks ago, but made it official at home on Sunday with a 27-20 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Being in a mediocre division definitely helped the Cowboys. But credit them for turning around what looked like a lost season.

Cowboys rallied after 3-5 start

On Nov. 5, the Cowboys suffered a home loss to the Tennessee Titans on “Monday Night Football.” The Titans aren’t terrible, but that loss dropped Dallas to 3-5. The calls for Garrett’s job had never been louder. It seemed like he’d be gone at season’s end.

Then the Cowboys went to Philadelphia, beat the Eagles, and have looked like a different team ever since.

Dallas won five in a row to take a stranglehold lead in the NFC East. The Cowboys didn’t look good last week in a loss to the Colts, but that was no surprise after an emotional victory over the Eagles that all but locked up the division. They were right back on track against the Buccaneers.

The Cowboys defense played well again, and an early strip-sack and scoop-and-score by Jaylon Smith set the tone for the day. It wasn’t necessarily a spectacular win for the Cowboys but an easy one, which is what good teams do. And for the second half of the season, Dallas has been a very good team. Now the Cowboys can rest their starters in Week 17.

Dallas looks dangerous headed to playoffs

The Cowboys will host a home playoff game on wild-card weekend, and there’s reason to believe they can make some noise in the playoffs.

Dallas’ defense has been consistent all season, and really good at times. The trade for Amari Cooper, which was curious at the time and looked bad when Dallas was 3-5, changed the entire offense. Dak Prescott has played better as of late and the run game with Ezekiel Elliott is always effective.

For a while, it looked like the Cowboys would be using January to look for a new coach. They punched their ticket to a home playoff game instead, with a week to spare.

Dak Prescott and the Cowboys clinched the NFC East title with a win over the Buccaneers. (AP)
Dak Prescott and the Cowboys clinched the NFC East title with a win over the Buccaneers. (AP)

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Frank Schwab is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!

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