"The Due Theory"

IRVING, TX. - It's called "The Due Theory,'' and it certainly applies when Ted Williams is 0-for-3 and batting one final time in the bottom of the ninth, or when a month has passed since Tiger Woods has won a tournament, or when the "reclusive'' O.J. Simpson hungers for a payday.

But does "The Due Theory'' apply to the undefeated Indianapolis Colts? And are your Cowboys the team to register said "application''?

No less an expert than Terrell Owens believes.

"I think teams coming in here know what we can do," T.O. said. "They know we're potent, that we can be as dangerous as the Colts."

DallasCowboys.com writer Mickey Spagnola believes.

"Time's Up: While it might not be so rare for the Colts, long winning streaks in the NFL are. So are undefeated seasons, if you figure the last one occurred in 1972 - 34 years ago. I have this theory in the NFL that the more you lose, the closer you are to winning, and that the more you win, the closer you are to losing. It's all about the percentages.''

Mickey even closes a paragraph with this phrase:

"The Colts are due.''

Well, maybe Owens and Spagnola have their Valley Ranch biases. But look here. ...it's not just the hope of the Cowboys fan that Dallas will be showcased Sunday by an upset home victory over 9-0 Indy. It's the prediction of numerous other experts, non-Valley Ranch experts, including Sports Illustrated's Paul Zimmerman, whose "Dr. Z's Forecast'' includes this nugget:

"O.K., the Colts have to lose sometime, right? And what kind of game did we all feel like it would be? A game on the road against a good defensive team with plenty of IQ points in the coaching department, and one with multiple forms of attack. Folks, I give you. ... Dallas! Cowboys to upset Indy.''

It all sounds rather reasonable, the X's-and-O's part of Dr. Z's evaluation. Consider:

* A game on the road -- Forgetting for a moment that this is Dallas QB Tony Romo's home debut (a wait-and-see notion if not for his so-far terrific performance as the new starter), and that the Cowboys are a mediocre 1-2 at Texas Stadium, being at home should be worth three points or so. Of course, to think that, one must also forget that this year's Colts are 4-0 on the road, and have won in locales such as Denver, at the Giants, and New England.

* A good defensive team -- On paper, the Cowboys are loaded -- and even when someone like Greg Ellis goes down, the Cowboys are re-loaded. And it's also on paper where it says the Cowboys are the third-ranked defensive club in the NFL. But those of us who have it in our heads that Dallas has established itself as a good team may be suffering from Selective Memory Syndrome (you know, the way your dad all the sudden went hard-of-hearing when the teenage you asked him for money?). In the Cowboys four losses, they've allowed 24, 38, 36 and 22 points. That's 30 points a game! Assume if you will that those four losses came against good teams (a bit of a dubious thought, but go with it). Assume Indy is a good team (no arguments there). Tell me, now, how do the Cowboys avoid giving up 30?

* Plenty of IQ in the coaching department -- This one depends on whether you're a Bottom-Line Guy or a Big-Reputation Guy. Joe Gibbs, Denny Green, Jon Gruden, Nick Saban, Jeff Fisher and Bill Cowher all have "brain power.'' They are also all coaches of last-place teams. If the Cowboys win this one, Bill Parcells looks as smart as 6-4. If the Cowboys lose this one, Coach again regresses to .500 and is simply Dave Campo in a much bigger sweatshirt.

* Multiple forms of attack -- There is something to this. The Cowboys can control the ball on the ground; they are sixth in the NFL in time of possession and running backs Marion Barber and Julius Jones are both averaging more than four yards per carry. Meanwhile, in the short time Romo has been the QB, Terrell Owens has 22 catches for 281 yards and three touchdowns, and everyone from Jason Witten to Patrick Crayton to Sam Hurd has pitched in on the passing game. We've seen in recent weeks Indy showing defensive vulnerability, especially against the run. And we've seen teams miss opportunities to take down the Colts. But in the end, while the Colts have only beaten their last three opponents by a combined total 11 points. ... they HAVE beaten them. Oh, and while much is being made of having only topped Buffalo 17-16, don't ignore the circumstances of those previous two nailbiters: They "only'' beat the Patriots in New England by seven; they "only'' beat the Broncos in Denver by three. The Patriots and the Broncos are, of course, two of the few NFL teams that have powerhouse reps even approaching the Colts'. And Indy beat them -- however tightly contested -- in their houses.

* OK, the Colts have to lose sometime, right? -- Errrrrrrrrrrrrkkkkk! (That's the sound of brakes behind applied heavily.) Folks, that is not a REASON. That is not an EVALUATION. That is nothing more than "The Due Theory'' -- you know, "the Colts are due to lose'' -- and it's terribly wobbly. Care to join Owens, Mickey and Dr. Z and logic your way to picking Dallas to beat Peyton Manning and the undefeated Colts? Go for it. ... but do yourself a favor and invent a real reason.

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