(CBSDFW/CBS Local) — The Dallas Cowboys season so far has been uneven, to say the least The team jumped out to a 3-0 start, beating the New York Giants, Washington Redskins and Miami Dolphins pretty handily. Those teams are collectively 3-17, with many ugly losses this season. Then the Cowboys lost three straight to the New Orleans Saints, Green Bay Packers and New York Jets. The Saints and Packers are a combined 12-2, with multiple impressive wins. (The Jets, well, last night’s 33-0 loss to the New England Patriots tells us everything we need to know about the Jets.)
The Cowboys bounced back again on Sunday, handing the Philadelphia Eagles, their only real competition in the NFC East, a resounding 37-10 loss. Dak Prescott completed 21 passes for 237 yards and a touchdown, five of them going to Amari Cooper for 106 yards. Ezekiel Elliott ran for 111 yards and another touchdown. The defense contained Carson Wentz and Jordan Howard. It was the type of dominant performance that’s been missing since September.
The Cowboys have looked both dominant and inconsistent this season, leaving one to wonder if this is really a legitimate playoff team. Looking ahead at their tough remaining schedule — and the Eagles’ easier remaining schedule — can they win the NFC East? (For obvious reasons, let’s just ignore the Giants and Redskins.)
Inside The NFL analyst Brandon Marshall, for one, believes in the ‘Boys. “I love the Cowboys,” he says. “The reason they have had inconsistent play is because of the injuries and not being [generally] healthy.”
And there’s a lot to love. Marshall elaborates, “this team can run the ball. They can play defense. They have a quarterback (in Dak Prescott) who knows how to take care of the ball. And when you have that, you can be in every single game.”
They’ll need that production in the coming weeks, with the Minnesota Vikings, New England Patriots and Buffalo Bills on the schedule in November. And they’ll need a quarterback who protects the football, given that those teams all field top-10 defenses that go after the football. The Patriots, to date, have 18 interceptions in seven games.
Marshall isn’t worried, however, “I’m expecting this team to peak in December and be right where they need to be.”
One player who will help get them there is Cooper, who is among the team’s most vital weapons. How important is he to this Cowboys offense? According to Marshall, “he’s everything, he’s extremely important. When you have an offense that can run the ball, that’s going to create eight-man boxes. So now you’re going to have one-on-one on the outside. And you need that number-one receiver to be able to dominate third-and-short, in any one-on-one situation. And I will pick him over any receiver in those situations to extend the drive and get the first down.”
The Cowboys have a bye in Week 8, but return to action against the Giants in New York in Week 9.
You can catch Brandon Marshall along with Ray Lewis, Phil Simms and host James Brown when Inside The NFL airs tonight at 9 p.m. Central Time on Showtime.