The 'Boys could be in big trouble

Even though they have already won the division, the Dallas Cowboys are still closing out another season on shaky ground.

The Cowboys will be without two of their best players when they play Philadelphia in the season finale. All-Pro tackle Tyron Smith will miss the season finale against the Eagles as he has tested positive for Covid-19.

The wild-card game is in Dallas the following week. The Cowboys still have a chance at the No. 2 seed in the playoffs, even if they lose to Philly. Dallas needs to beat the Eagles first. You can hope for losses by the Rams, Cards, and Buccaneers. It is a long shot, but stranger things have happened.

The Cowboys are used to playing without Smith, as their offense has been poor of late. He has missed at least three games each year since the 2016 season. They are better with Smith on the field, but they have learned to adjust to being without him due to injuries. The defense and the story are different.

One season is all it took for Parsons to become the most versatile player on the Cowboys defense. Dan Quinn has a defense that lines up all over the place and allows him to affect the game in many ways. Whether he lines up on the defensive line or as a linebacker, he will make his presence felt one way or the other. No one knows how the positive test will affect him. Some players have been hit very hard. Dallas will be in hot water no matter who they match up with if Parsons returns for the wild-card game.

A loss in Philadelphia in Week 18 will result in a second meeting with the Arizona Cardinals, as a fourth seed is at stake. The Cowboys lost to the Cards in Week 17 and fell to fourth in the conference. Dallas can still make it to the third seed, but it's not likely.

Without their best player against the Eagles, it could be a long day for the Dallas defense. The Cowboys are prone to giving up big yards and don't have that all-around shutdown defense. The Cowboys defense makes their living off of turnovers, and is tied for first with Indianapolis with 33 total turnovers, and 25 of them are in the air. Dallas is third in the league in turnover differential. The Cowboys have been reliant on the defense for a long time.

The head of this turn around has been Parsons. The coaches are tasked with putting players in a position to succeed on the field, and that's why they have taken full advantage of howQuinn has utilized his talents this year. The Dallas area was historically bad last year and most of the contributors were there. The defensive rookies of the year award was locked up in December. There was a chance that he could win the defensive player of the year award. It isn't likely at this point because T.J. Watt is having more sacks than any other player.

If they want to have a long run in the playoffs, they will need this trend to continue through January. The Cowboys are just 1-3 this season when they don't get an int in a game. They are 0-2 when they don't get an INT or a fumbled ball. The ’Boys might not be able to overcome this hurdle because they don't have the ability to get after opposing QBs.