Last season the Dallas Cowboys were able to overcome a devastating injury to what was, at the time, their undisputed most important player, Tony Romo.
On top of Romo’s absence the Cowboys also played without their second-round pick, Jaylon Smith, for the whole season, although that was a self-induced sort of setback.
When you look at what the team has had to deal with this season in terms of injuries, they really have been relatively lucky.
The two biggest hurdles the Cowboys have faced injury-wise this season are inarguably Sean Lee (five games missed) and Tyron Smith (two missed).
Reality across the 2017 NFL season is that many different superstars have been lost to season-ending injuries.
Sports Illustrated even highlighted just how many with a recent cover.
Examining one particularly brutal week of NFL injuries reveals that the number of injuries this season is extraordinary—but simultaneously not that special https://t.co/lKjNk879se pic.twitter.com/qL99WYL2p7
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) December 12, 2017
Take a look at that cover, which doesn’t even include every single lost player, and consider how many play in the NFC: Odell Beckham Jr., Brandon Marshall, David Johnson, Dalvin Cook, Sam Bradford, Darren Sproles, Jason Peters, Carson Wentz, Aaron Rodgers, Delvin Breaux, Greg Olsen (kind of), Kam Chancellor, Richard Sherman.
The players that we just mentioned all play for the Giants, Cardinals, Vikings, Eagles, Packers, Saints, Panthers, and Seahawks. These are all teams that, at the beginning of the season, many thought would challenge the Cowboys within the conference.
Dallas hasn’t at all been hit by injury to the magnitude that any of these teams have. While, again, it’s important to note that the Cowboys haven’t at all been 100% healthy all year, they have been lucky where other teams have not.
Of course, the Cowboys have had to be without one of their superstars in Ezekiel Elliott this season, just not for injury-related reasons. While that has been an obvious disadvantage for them, it doesn’t change that the Cowboys have fared far better than the field when it comes to injuries across the NFL.
What’s frustrating for the Cowboys is that they’ve been playing against the NFC rivals before they left without their biggest star players. They lose to Packers with Aaron Rodgers and lose to Eagles with Carson Wentz. Booth got injured the games after.
So except the O.B.J. injury and the two games against the Giants, the Cowboys doesn’t profit a lot from this injury filled season (two games remaining against Eagles and Seahawks).
The most important thing is if the playoffs started today, NFC will be without the Cowboys kryptonite, Aaron Rodgers and the Packers. Rodgers has only once missed the playoffs as the Packers starting QB, in 2008.
Dallas had, still has technically, a chance to enter a playoff field free of an enormous amount of superstars, while as fully loaded as they can conceivably be from an injury perspective.
Whether they will or not remains to be seen, it’s just unfortunate they left it up to chance when the path to Lombardi number six has the lowest level of resistance it has in quite some time.