One of the things that is so enjoyable and exciting about the NFL is that every game is important. Of course, if you are the Cleveland Browns that might not be true. (the Cleveland Browns, the Oakland Raiders, the St. Louis Rams, Detroit Lions and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are all fighting for the worst team in the NFL crown. No matter what Cleveland’s record is I’m taking them off the list since they beat the Pittsburgh Steelers.) The Browns showed up and beat the Pittsburgh Steelers on a cold Thursday night. The Steelers simply had no offensive line. If your quarterback is running for his life is very hard for your quarterback to find an open receiver.
Week 13 power rankings have come out. I have to smile. Somehow the Dallas Cowboys are number five. The Pittsburgh Steelers are number two. New Orleans Saints is number one and the Indianapolis Colts are number six. This week, the Dallas Cowboys have to play the San Diego Chargers. Both teams are surprisingly similar. They both have outstanding quarterbacks who’ve yet to prove themselves in the clutch. They have a fairly good running game with outstanding wide receivers. If the Cowboys have any edge in this football game it should be at the defensive line. The San Diego Chargers have a decided edge in special teams. There is a back story of Norv Turner who was with the Cowboys during their heyday summarily the mid-90s was never considered as a head coach. Wade Phillips was the defensive coordinator for the San Diego Chargers when they had a ferocious defense. He was also not seriously considered for their head coaching job.
The Cowboys have an opportunity to win their division and play their first playoff game at home. In order for them to take advantage of that opportunity they have to win in December. In the NFL, in order to be a successful team, you have to win in December. I guess if you go into December 12-0 then you can punch your last four games and still do okay. But football is about emotion since 75% of the players were outstanding. Who is better coached and who is better motivated — those are the guys who win. You want to go into the playoffs, knowing you can win. You don’t want to hope you can win.
The Cowboys loss against the Giants last week was disheartening. They trailed at halftime 14-10 but outplayed the New York Giants. Unfortunately, outplaying your opponents does not equal touchdowns on the scoreboard. The second half, for the most part was a disaster. The good news is that Tony Romo did not self-destruct. There was nothing that Tony Romo did to hurt the team. On the other hand, I’m not sure that Tony did a lot of great things to help the team either but this is progress. In years past, he was the one that hurt the team. He clearly played good enough to win. The defense, which is been playing great for the last 10 weeks, simply collapsed. I still don’t understand how a little swing pass to Brandon Jacobs equals a 75 yard touchdown. I also don’t understand how you give up a punt return for a touchdown in a close, meaningful game.
In order for the Cowboys to win against the San Diego Chargers, they’re going to have to control Philip Rivers. I think the Cowboys can control the running game of the Chargers. The Chargers’ passing attack is excellent. Philip Rivers has been playing at an extremely high level. (There are only a couple quarterbacks who are playing better than he is – Drew Brees and Peyton Manning.) He is going to challenge our safeties and corners multiple times throughout the game. Terence Newman has been playing okay. He has not been playing outstanding football he played last year. I think the Cowboys are very vulnerable to the deep ball especially with Ken Hamlin out this week. Our defensive line has not been putting pressure on the quarterback and that’s exactly what we are going to need this week — pressure on Philip Rivers.
During the Cowboys winning streak, they were able to get big plays. They had contributions from their offense and defense. They even had special teams contributions. The Cowboys are going to need to have everything running well in order to shut down the San Diego Chargers. I will go head to bed, this is an emotional pick, the Cowboys by a field goal.