Dare to Believe

In the midst of the Cowboys' excitement and post season euphoria, I failed to realize the NFL had again changed the playoff format.

I was not aware the League front office also awarded a first round bye to the No. 3 seed in each conference. Nothing like going into the Metrodome as fresh as a daisy; all rested and relaxed. A chance to mend a few bumps and bruises. That's good stuff. What's that? The Cowboys didn't have a bye week last weekend during the Wild Card round? Oh, they actually played last Saturday night? Did their opponent not show? Ah yes, this was Walk in the Park – Round Two, Return of the Filth. Silly me, now I remember. I guess I must have tuned out shortly after Spit Gate broke and further soiled an already pathetic and disgusting Philadelphia resume. Dave Spewdaro, like the team he covers, is simply a joke; nothing more than a stain on the wall. Just when you think this team and their fan base can't stoop any lower, they somehow manage to lower the bar. That's our Philly!

Like the Monday morning trash, at least that mess has been disposed of properly. Nice team. How was Bob's? At least the steaks were good as the field performance was less than fulfilling. Luckily, tee times were maintained, and the Philly faithful can get on with the only trophy they play for, year in and year out. Wing Bowl. Yes, you heard right. Their January ritual and only constant as it relates to post season competition. Sponsored by the blow hard station of all sports talk radio stations, WIP 610 AM, Philadelphia. Ever heard it? Pull it up on the internet and give it a listen. It will immediately reaffirm your desire for your children to go to college. This is a collection, radio personnel and listener base, where the IQ level never quite reaches the freezing mark. On a good day, it gets into the high 30's. Fire it back up in late March and they'll still be talking about how they were a mere two plays away from winning Saturday night's contest.

Oh, but how I digress. Everyone is reporting on the current primate outbreak in the DFW Metroplex. Monkeys seem to be flying off backs everywhere in these parts. It's literally bananas. OK, things were going pretty good up until that last attempt at humor. Sad, really. Along with the reports come all the theories and guesstimates on why the playoff victory drought even existed and why so darn long? I believe there is only one true answer to this entire post season meltdown of 13 years. Rowdy. Laugh if you must. You have your reasons, and I have mine. No one will ever sway me to believe otherwise. Yes, the Cowboys' former game day mascot was the root of all evils. Satan himself donned this treacherous costume immediately following the conclusion of Super Bowl XXX. This was a conspiracy theory like no other. You think the JFK assassination and subsequent Warren Report had some flimsiness and unsubstantiated answers. This caper tops them all.

Whose idea and brainchild was this? Seriously, we need someone to step forward and actually accept responsibility for this organizational debacle. You talk about failure of grandiose proportions. In comparison, the Edsel was a tremendous success. This creature was affectionately referred to by a local sports radio station as "Ass Whip." There have been many monikers placed throughout the years, but none more appropriate than this. Ass Whip was a complete embarrassment to the entire organization and worldwide fandom. Not even T.O. and Dave Spadaro could have desecrated the revered blue star more than the toothy menace in the ten gallon hat. You look up the term "not right" in the dictionary and guess whose picture appears? Did parents really shell out hundreds of dollars to have this nightmare-waiting-to-happen attend children's birthday parties? Didn't the subsequent therapy and counseling sessions cost more?

This one was too easy. Remove Rowdy, exit monkey. Coincidence? I think not. Once Ass Whip was banished from Game Day, things seemed to roll with renewed conviction. See, Rowdy is the equivalent of the Wildcat, or in the case of the Cowboys, the Razorback. Just because everyone else in the League has one, does that mean we have to follow suit? Why? Jason Garrett, here's a suggestion. Like Rowdy, purge the Razorback! See, Jerry and his marketing geniuses also thought Rowdy was cute. The Razorback? Folks, that baby is ugly!

Well, hello again, Brett Favre! Remember the last time we met? Ya, the time when the Cowboys Nation was calling for your immediate return because field general in waiting, Aaron Rogers, with arm and legs, was carving his way back into the Texas Stadium contest. The visions of you bailing on passes haphazardly launched into the middle third of the field resonate like desert wildflowers! Is there anything more beautiful than the ESPN poster boy scrambling for his life? Get your butterfly nets ready, fellas. Shooting fish in a barrel is easy, but this is mere child's play. Brett Favre has never taken kindly to Cowboys' pressure. It has always been the recipe for success against His Highness in Wrangler jeans. I so want a poster of this guy after one of the classic Warren Sapp sacks where Favre gets up looking out one of his helmet ear holes. Was there a better disheveled look known to man?

The Cowboys have the ability to show and flag the football world for the insanity that landed two of the Minnesota OL in the Pro Bowl. Are you kidding me? Since when do pylons and turnstiles get Pro Bowl recognition? Listen, Mount McKinnie is one of my boys from The U, but he and Brother Cane, Ray Lewis are riding reputations instead of performance on the way to Miami. Let's see Mount Concrete deal with the likes of D Ware and The Fountain of Youth, Anthony Spencer. The Cowboys' defense is now a force to be reckoned with. If consistent pressure is applied, Brett Favre will make a mistake or ten. The OT opposite McKinnie is a rookie, and there's no better way to get in a rookie's head than to have the QB on the ground often and early. Count on Wade dialing up consistent pressure on Favre and company. If Minnesota has to keep Shiancoe in to assist with defensive pressure, it's one less player out in the pattern.

If Minnesota is to have any chance in this game, they must establish RB Adrian Peterson. He needs to be effective to keep the Dallas defense guessing and off balance. Judging from the Vikings body of work in the last 5 games of the regular season, what momentum or confidence do they have to hang their hats on? Unlike the Cowboys, and the last contest against the Giants has to be completely discounted, the Vikings were headed in the wrong direction coming down the December stretch. Without any type of running game to speak of, the Chicago Bears elected to pit INT-prone Jay Cutler against Favre in a Soldier Field shoot-out. Advantage, Bears? Again, the key being neutralize Peterson and attack Favre. Do the Vikings really want to go toe-to-toe with a red-hot Tony Romo? With Antoine Winfield hobbled and Darren Sharper in New Orleans?

Offensive Rookie of the Year Percy Harvin and Sidney Rice must be watched at all times, but the Cowboys have the athletes to stay with both, and Coach Joe DeCamillis has recently found ways to shut down potent return games. Not trying to get the cart before the horse, but outside of this game being on the road, facing Minnesota is more appealing than the just put-to-bed Eagles. All the talk about the Vikings' home record needs to be taken with a grain of salt. How many of those contests came down to a last second mad scramble by Lord Favre? Bad teams were allowed to hang around with the Vikings all day long. Suffice it to say, the Cowboys present a different type of opponent. Tony Romo is going to have a chance to slice and carve the Vikings'' defense like a Thanksgiving turkey. Look for Pro Bowler Jason Witten to play a huge role in this contest. Romo will repeatedly look to his security blanket to keep the chains moving and the scoreboard lit.

The key, as in recent contests, will be scoring early, gaining momentum and taking the home crowd out of the game as much as possible. The Cowboys have enjoyed very good fortune when they convert their first offensive possession into points. Continue this trend, and the Cowboys should be able to enjoy success. The confidence factor is certainly in place, and the Dallas Cowboys are playing good football. There is no greater combination for the month of January. The entire organization is to be credited for the 2009-10 success, but it's my personal belief that Stephen Jones and Joe De Camillis should shoulder co-MVP honors for the Dallas Cowboys. DeCamillis gets it for sheer determination and perseverance. The road he traveled since coming to the Cowboys is nothing shy of miraculous and inspirational. Stephen Jones is the "Voice of Reason." His offseason personnel suggestions were spot on, and he is to be credited for the winning culture and atmosphere that currently exists at Valley Ranch. Yes, Jerry makes the whole thing go, but Stephen understands the pulse. Finally, one heartbeat.

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