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Cowboys Don’t Get Much Help on Sunday

As Todd Archer of the Dallas Morning News wrote today, the Cowboys could have used wins on Sunday by the Giants, Packers, Saints, and Chargers. Dallas got no such luck, as three of those four teams lost. Moreover, even though the Giants’ win over Washington helped Dallas in the wildcard, it meant that the NFC East is all but out of reach.

Here are the new NFC rankings (not counting tonight’s game between Chicago and Minnesota):

NFC East leader: N.Y. Giants (11-1). The Giants are pretty much a shoe-in for the NFC East and are probably for the top seed in the NFC for the playoffs.

NFC South leader: Tampa Bay (9-3). The Buccaneers beat the Panthers in week 6 and face Carolina next week. The Cowboys, of course, hold the tiebreaker over the Buccaneers thanks to a week 8 win over Tampa Bay.

NFC West leader: Arizona (7-5): The Cardinals’ loss to the Eagles seriously hurt Arizona’s chance to get the second bye in the NFC.

NFC North leader: Chicago (6-5): The Bears play the Vikings on Sunday evening for the division lead. The second place team in this division has almost no chance of making the playoffs.

Teams in the wildcard hunt:

Current #5 Seed: Carolina (9-3): The Panthers came from behind to beat the Packers to stay even with Tampa Bay. Carolina has a 6-3 conference record, so if the Panthers lose to the Buccaneers next week and the Cowboys beat the Steelers, both teams would be 9-4 with 6-4 conference records.

Current #6 Seed: Atlanta (8-4): The Falcons traveled to San Diego and knocked off the Chargers, improving Atlanta’s record to 8-4. Atlanta has a 5-3 conference record compared with the Cowboys’ 6-4 record, giving Atlanta the slight edge there. The Cowboys have a 2-1 record against common opponents, though, so Dallas still has a chance to beat Atlanta in a tiebreaker.

Others:

Dallas (8-4): Forget looking for help from other teams– the Cowboys have to win to make the playoffs. The Cowboys’ hold a head-to-head advantage over the Buccaneers but will have a tough time beating other teams in tiebreakers.

Washington (7-5): The Redskins have started sliding at a bad time for them. Their conference record is now 6-4, with a division record of 2-3. The Redskins have to travel to Baltimore in a tough game next week, but they finish the season with games against the Bengals, Eagles, and 49ers.

Philadelphia (6-5-1): The Eagles are all but out of the race, but with games against Washington and Dallas, Philly could play the role of spoiler. It would be nice for Dallas if the Eagles could beat up a little bit on the Giants next week, but that is doubtful.

* * *

Here are the tiebreaker procedures for determining the wildcard teams:

TO BREAK A TIE FOR THE WILD-CARD TEAM

If it is necessary to break ties to determine the two Wild-Card clubs from each conference, the following steps will be taken.

1. If the tied clubs are from the same division, apply division tie breaker.
2. If the tied clubs are from different divisions, apply the following steps.

Two Clubs

1. Head-to-head, if applicable.
2. Best won-lost-tied percentage in games played within the conference.
3. Best won-lost-tied percentage in common games, minimum of four.
4. Strength of victory.
5. Strength of schedule.
6. Best combined ranking among conference teams in points scored and points allowed.
7. Best combined ranking among all teams in points scored and points allowed.
8. Best net points in conference games.
9. Best net points in all games.
10. Best net touchdowns in all games.
11. Coin toss.

Three or More Clubs

(Note: If two clubs remain tied after third or other clubs are eliminated, tie breaker reverts to step 1 of applicable two-club format.)

1. Apply division tie breaker to eliminate all but the highest ranked club in each division prior to proceeding to step 2. The original seeding within a division upon application of the division tie breaker remains the same for all subsequent applications of the procedure that are necessary to identify the two Wild-Card participants.
2. Head-to-head sweep. (Applicable only if one club has defeated each of the others or if one club has lost to each of the others.)
3. Best won-lost-tied percentage in games played within the conference.
4. Best won-lost-tied percentage in common games, minimum of four.
5. Strength of victory.
6. Strength of schedule.
7. Best combined ranking among conference teams in points scored and points allowed.
8. Best combined ranking among all teams in points scored and points allowed.
9. Best net points in conference games.
10. Best net points in all games.
11. Best net touchdowns in all games.
12. Coin toss

When the first Wild-Card team has been identified, the procedure is repeated to name the second Wild-Card, i.e., eliminate all but the highest-ranked club in each division prior to proceeding to step 2. In situations where three or more teams from the same division are involved in the procedure, the original seeding of the teams remains the same for subsequent applications of the tie breaker if the top-ranked team in that division qualifies for a Wild-Card berth.

November vs. December for the Dallas Cowboys

It has been well-documented that the Cowboys of late have had difficulty during the months of December and January. In fact, during the 2000s, the Cowboys have had their worst December/January record of any decade in team history.

An even more disturbing fact: Dallas has not had better than a .500 record during the months of December and January since going 5-0 in December and January to end the 1993 season.

Here is a look at the overall records for each decade.

September and October

The Cowboys have never had a decade during which they posted below a .500 combined record during the months of September and October.

1960s: 34-31-3 (52.31%)

Best start: 1969 (6-0)

Worst start: 1960 (0-6)

1970s: 52-21 (71.23%)

Best start: 1977 (7-0)

Worst start: 1974 (3-4)

1980s: 44-31 (58.67%)

Best start: 1983 (8-1)

Worst start: 1989 (0-8)

1990s: 51-26 (66.23%)

Best start: 1994, 1995 (7-1)

Worst start: 1990 (3-5)

2000s: 36-30 (54.55%)

Best start: 2007 (6-1)

Worst start: 2001 (2-4)

Overall record (1960-2008): 217-139-3 (60.96%)

November

Only during the 1960s have the Cowboys recorded a combined record of less than .500 during the month of November. Dallas has gone 8-1 during the past two seasons and 11-2 during the past three.

1960s: 19-22-2 (46.34%)

Best: 1968 (4-1)

Worst: 1960 (0-4)

1970s: 29-14 (67.44%)

Best:1971 (4-0)

Worst:1979 (1-3)

1980s: 22-22 (50%)

Best: 1980, 1981 (4-1)

Worst: 1988 (0-4)

1990s: 28-17 (62.22%)

Best: 1992, 1998 (4-1)

Worst: Several (2-2)

2000s: 20-17 (54.05%)

Best: 2007 (5-0)

Worst: 2001 (0-4)

Overall November record (1960-2008): 118-92-2 (56.19%)

December and January

With a 14-23 record, the Cowboys of the 2000s have had the worst record at season’s end (December and January) than in any other decade in team history.

As impressive as the 1970s Cowboys were overall, they were especially impressive at season’s end. They lost only four games all decade during the month of December.

Note: When the league had 14-game schedules and did not have bye weeks, the teams usually only played two or three games during December. Teams now play as many as five games during the months of December and January to end the regular season.

1960s: 14-12-1 (53.85%)

Best: 1965, 1969 (3-0)

Worst: 1961 (0-3)

1970s: 24-4 (85.71%)

Best: Several (3-0)

Worst:1974, 1976 (1-1)

1980s: 13-21 (38.24%)

Best: 1980, 1981 (4-1)

Worst: 1988 (0-4)

1990s: 23-16 (58.97%)

Best: 1993 (5-0)

Worst: 1997 (0-3)

2000s: 14-23 (37.84%)

Best: Several have gone .500, but none had a better record.

Worst:  2002 (0-4)

Overall December/January record (1960-2007): 88-76 (53.66%)

The Cowboys Have the Best Winning Percentage in NFL History (At Least for Now)

About a month ago, I wrote a post noting that the Cowboys at one time during the 2008 season had the best all-time winning percentage of any team in NFL history. That was just after the Cowboys had lost to the Rams and were about to face Tampa Bay.

A month later, and the Cowboys have a three-game winning streak. Thanks to this streak, the Cowboys currently hold the best all-time winning percentage of any NFL team. I have to note this right now, because if Miami wins on Sunday against the Rams, the Cowboys will fall back into second place. Here is the summary:

1. Dallas Cowboys

Current all-time record: 422-306-6
Winning percentage: .57967

2. Miami Dolphins

Current all-time record: 375-272-4
Winning percentage: .57959

Winning percentage with a win on Sunday vs. Rams: .58024 (376-272-4)

3. Chicago Bears

Current all-time record: 682-496-42
Winning percentage: .57930

Winning percentage with a win on Sunday vs. Vikings: .57966 (684-496-42)

The other franchises in the top 10:

Browns: 475-371-13 (.561)
Packers: 642-509-36 (.557)
Raiders: 403-321-11 (.556)
49ers: 491-401-15 (.550)
Vikings: 391-321-9 (.549)
Giants: 616-507-33 (.548)
Jaguars: 117-102-0 (.534)

More Notes from the Cowboys-Seahawks Game

* In the first quarter, the Cowboys faced a 3rd and 1 from the Dallas 38. Tony Romo threw deep to the left to nobody, but Seattle cornerback Josh Wilson was called for illegial use of hands. Two plays later, Romo hit Witten for 36 yards, setting up a 16-yard touchdown pass to Martellus Bennett.

* Newly-acquired Tra Battle had one tackle in his one appearance with the San Diego Chargers in 2008. He had one tackle on his first play with the Cowboys, tackling Wilson on the ensuing kickoff following the first Dallas touchdown.

* Julius Jones had a total of eight fumbles (six lost) in four years with the Cowboys. That’s eight fumbles in 885 carries, meaning he averaged a fumble on 0.9% of his carries. Including his two fumbles against the Cowboys, he now has four fumbles on 152 attempts with Seattle, meaning he has fumbled on 2.6% of his carries.

* Roy Williams has run the ball six times in his career, including a reverse in the first quarter against Seattle. His previous five attempts went for a total of four yards, while his reverse went for 13.

* During the first five games of the season, the Cowboys outscored their opponents in the first quarter by a combined total of 41-9 en route to a 4-1 record. In the first quarters of the six games after that, Dallas was outscored 61-7. The Cowboys doubled their first-quarter output of the past six games in the first quarter of the Seattle game by scoring 14.

* The Seahawks’ long-snapper was former Cowboy Jeff Robinson.

* L.P. LaDouceur, the Cowboys’ current deep-snapper, was called for a “reverse take-down” in the third quarter. Nobody is quite sure what that means.

Cowboys 34, Seahawks 9: A Satisfying Win, but Now Pinkie Toe Problems

There were quite a number of potential story lines for today’s game. One could have focused on the Cowboys getting revenge for their playoff loss to the Seahawks in 2006. Another could have been the return of Julius Jones to Texas Stadium.

As it turns out, the Seahawks gave Tony Romo so much time to throw the ball that he had close to 200 yard by halftime. Jason Witten ran free over the middle and finished the day with 115 yards in nine receptions.

The only real concerns in the game arose when Marion Barber and DeMarcus Ware left the game with injuries. Neither injury, however, appears serious, though Wade Phillips reportedly appeared more stoic when asked about Ware.

[Update, from the DMN: Ware says he will play against the Steelers, while Barber apparently suffered a dislocated pinkie toe.]

Dallas took the opening kickoff and drove 71 yards in five plays. A Romo-to-Martellus Bennett touchdown gave the Cowboys a 7-0 lead.

Jones helped his former team by fumbling at the Dallas 35 on Seattle’s first possession of the game. Anthony Henry recovered the ball, and the Dallas offense resumed from there. Nine plays later, Marion Barber scored on a draw from the two, giving Dallas a 14-0 lead.

By halftime, it was 24-6. Seattle drove to the Dallas 7 on the opening drive of the second half, but the Cowboys stuffed the drive from there. The Seahawks were forced to kick a field goal, making it 24-9.

The Dallas offense had a little bit of trouble moving the ball late in the first half and early in the second, and Tony Romo was intercepted on the Cowboys’ first drive of the second half. However, the offense got back on track later in the third quarter, thanks to an amazing one-handed catch by Terrell Owens. With about two and a half minutes left in the quarter and with the Cowboys facing a 3rd-and-6, Owens ran a route down the right sideline. Romo rolled right and overthrew Owens just a bit, but T.O. pulled the ball in with one hand.

Here is the play:

One play later, Romo hit Owens on a 19-yard touchdown, increasing the lead to 31-9. It was pretty much over from there.

* * *

Some bullet points:

  • This was the second time this season and the eighth time in his career that Witten has surpassed 100 yards in a game. The last time was in the Cowboys’ 41-37 win over Philadelphia in week 2.
  • The Cowboys recorded seven sacks, the most since the Cowboys had nine against the Cardinals on November 9, 1997.
  • Players with sacks: Ware (3), Bradie James (2), Greg Ellis, and Tank Johnson. It was Johnson’s first sack of the season.
  • Roy Williams had two receptions for 51 yards, including a 38-yarder in the second quarter. It looked as if he may have a big game, but Romo missed him on a couple of throws in the second half.
  • Tashard Choice had 57 yards on 11 carries, including a 27-yarder. He had cut-back moves that looked very much like Marion Barber’s.
  • Tony Romo recorded his sixth 300-yard game of the season.

A 7-4 Record as a Predictor for the Cowboys

If you asked a Cowboys fan with a pretty good sense of history to name three of the most disappointing seasons in team history, the years 1984 (no playoffs for the first time in a decade), 1986 (first losing season in 21 years) and 1996 (failed to win Super Bowl XXXI) might come to mind. Another disappointing season to throw in the mix may be 2005, when the Cowboys finished 9-7 and missed the playoffs for the second consecutive season under Bill Parcells.

What do all of these seasons have in common? Dallas began each season at 7-4 and lost game #12. Here is more:

  • 1984: Dallas started at 7-4 but lost game #12 to a previously winless Buffalo team, 14-3. Dallas finished the season 9-7 and missed the playoffs.
  • 1986: Dallas began the season at 6-1 but fell apart after Danny White was lost for the season with a wrist injury. The Cowboys traveled to Washington with a 7-4 record but were blown out in a 41-14 loss. Dallas finished the season at 7-9.
  • 1996: Dallas struggled early in the season, going 1-3. However, the Cowboys managed to rebound and had a 7-4 record heading into their game against the Giants. Dallas lost a 20-6 game.
  • 2005: Dallas looked solid at 7-3 but lost to Denver on Thanksgiving Day. With a 7-4 record, the Cowboys played the Giants. A 17-10 Dallas loss helped propel the Giants to the playoffs and hurt the Cowboys’ chances to do the same.

Conversely, the Cowboys have had pretty good success in the six seasons in which they won game #12 after starting 7-4. In fact, each of the six times they have won this game, the Cowboys have gone to the playoffs, and in three of those seasons, Dallas went to the Super Bowl.

  • 1970: Dallas had struggled earlier in the season but routed Washington in game #12, 34-0. The Cowboys finished the season at 10-4 and went to Super Bowl V.
  • 1973: Dallas at one point lost three of four in 1973 but had rebounded by week 12. Dallas faced Denver and came away with a 22-10 win. The Cowboys finished the season at 10-4 and made it to the NFC Championship Game.
  • 1978: The Cowboys were looking like the most disappointing team of the 1978 season, but a win over New Orleans in game #12 was part of a six-game winning streak to end the season. Dallas finished the regular season at 12-4 and made it to Super Bowl XIII.
  • 1985: Dallas fell to 7-4 in 1985 when the Bears destroyed the Cowboys, 44-0. Dallas rebounded in game #12, beating Philadelphia 34-17. The Cowboys finished the season at 10-6, winning the last NFC East title under Tom Landry.
  • 1993: Dallas started the season at 0-2, then rebounded to improve to 7-2, but then lost two straight, including the infamous Thanksgiving Day loss to Miami in the Snow Bowl. The 7-4 Cowboys began a streak by beating the Eagles 23-17 and never lost again that year, as Dallas won Super Bowl XXVIII.
  • 2006: Dallas had started the season at 4-4 but won three straight to improve to 7-4 under new QB Tony Romo. At 7-4, Dallas beat the Giants in a 23-20 thriller. The Cowboys finished the season at 9-7, making the playoffs . . . (okay, where they lost to the Seahawks, this week’s opponent . . . ).

* * *

* * *

The folks at MVN Outsider asked me to write a short preview of tomorrow’s game. Here it is:

The Cowboys learned last week that good things can happen when teams do not dedicate themselves to eliminating Terrell Owens from the Dallas offense. Owens is likely to receive more attention this week from the Seahawks, who come into the game ranked 31st in pass defense.

Even if Seattle can slow T.O. down, Jason Witten and Roy Williams should have big days. The Dallas defense is a little banged up but is still improving. The Seahawks are just as bad at passing (ranked 31st) as they are defending the pass, which certainly helps Dallas.

Cowboys 31, Seahawks 14

* * *

Accuscore

The Cowboys won 80.1% of the simulations on Accuscore this week, by an average score of 27.8 to 16.5. Here is the summary:

The Cowboys are looking to close the season strong and they have a 56 percent chance of racking up another easy double digit win over an NFC West opponent. Tony Romo has a simulation passer rating over 100 with a 48 percent chance of passing for 250+ yards and 2+ TDs. Matt Hasselbeck has just a 71 rating in simulations with just a 12 percent chance of passing for 250 and 2 TDs. Even if Hasselbeck has a big game the Cowboys are still favored by 6 points winning 72 percent of these simulations because Julius Jones and Maurice Morris only average 3.5 ypc. Marion Barber is averaging 110 rushing yards per sim to give the Cowboys a balanced offensive attack.

Here is more.

What If Sports

The Cowboys did even better on WhatIfSports, winning 90.2% of the simulations by an average score of 32-13.

Odd Facts About Dallas Quarterbacks and the Cowboy-49er Game

On the radio broadcast of last week’s game against San Francisco, Babe Laufenberg noted that Tony Romo had the same record as a starter in his first 33 starts as both Roger Staubach and Danny White. After the win on Sunday, Romo still has the same record in his first 34 starts as those two quarterbacks. The other quarterbacks with at least 34 career starts had fewer wins than the trio of Romo, Staubach, and White. Here are the summaries:

Tony Romo

2006: 6-4 record
2007: 13-3 record
2008, first eight starts: 6-2 record

Overall record as a starter, 34 games: 25-9

Roger Staubach

1969: 1-0 record
1970: 2-1 record
1971: 10-0 record
1973: 10-4 record
1974, first six starts: 2-4 record

Overall record as a starter, 34 games: 25-9

Danny White

1978: 1-0 record
1980: 12-4 record
1981: 11-4 record
1982, first two starts: 1-1 record

Overall record as a starter, 34 games: 25-9

Others with at least 34 career starts:

Craig Morton: 23-10-1 overall record

Don Meredith: 13-18-3 overall record

Troy Aikman: 12-22 overall record

* * *

Some good news, if any of the above means anything: Staubach won his 35th, 36th, and 37th starts. Similarly, White won starts 35 through 39 in 1982.

In fact, this is a little bit unusual: the only quarterback in team history to lose his 35th career start with the Cowboys was Don Meredith, who lost his 35th start on November 22, 1964 to the Redskins.

* * *

Several stories noted that the 11-10 score in the Steelers’ win over San Diego on November 16 was the only time in NFL history that a game has ended with that score.

The Cowboys 35-22 win over San Francisco was not quite as unusual, but this score has been the result in only three games in league history, and one of those games was an AFL game:

1964: Buffalo 35, Kansas City 22

2006: Baltimore Ravens 35, New Orleans 22

2008: Dallas 35, San Francisco 22

* * *

The Cowboys have scored 30 or more points against the 49ers eight times, and Dallas has won all eight of those games (including playoffs). The 35 points was the most scored by the Cowboys against the 49ers since the 1993 NFC Championship Game, when Dallas won 38-21.

All About Terrell Owens

At one point in yesterday’s game, I noted in the chat room at The Blue and Silver that some team is going to put Terrell Owens in single coverage and shut him down, thus proving that he was over-the-hill.

That was about two plays before Tony Romo hit Owens on a 75-yard touchdown after Owens had burned Nate Clements, who is a quality corner (I think). I wanted to mention something about Owens dropping some passes in the first quarter, but then he had catches of 45 yards and 52 yards, along with a few shorter receptions, and there wasn’t much to complain about.

So, in honor of Owens return to glory, here are ten trivia questions about Owens:
Make your own Quiz!

* * *

Here’s a clip of Owens from Sunday:

* * *

The articles about Owens today were all over the board:

Dallas Cowboys’ Owens ‘unleashed’ by 49ers’ inane defense (Jean-Jacques Taylor of the Dallas Morning News)

‘System’ works for T.O., at least for one game (Randy Galloway of the Fort Worth Startle Gram)

Monday Musings: Is ‘the system’ any different? That depends on who’s making the catches (Jennifer Floyd Engel, also of the Startle Gram)

Unleashed? Owens is mostly understood (Buck Harvey, San Antonio Express News)

* * *

And just for fun, this is plain wrong:

My apologies for my boredom. No, really.

Cowboys 35, 49ers 22: (Much to Our Chagrin) Terrell Owens Proves Himself Right

I have stood by my quasi-research proving that receivers make a sharp decline starting around the age of 34 or 35. That certainly didn’t hold up today, to say the least. A 36-year-old receiver named Isaac Bruce caught eight passes for 125 yards and a touchdown. Bruce’s performance was nothing, though, compared with the game that Terrell Owens had.

After Dallas had started slow and had fallen behind in the 1st quarter, Owens made the first play that gave Dallas the lead for good. Owens got behind Nate Clements and hauled in a 75-yard touchdown pass that gave the Cowboys a 7-6 lead.

If Owens wasn’t terribly impressive on shorter routes (he had two really bad drops), he made up for them on the deep routes.

With Dallas up 12-6 after a safety (see below) and field goal, Owens caught a 45-yarder that set up another Dallas field goal. Later, on the Cowboys’ first drive of the second half, Owens caught another pass for 52 yards. The play led to a touchdown that gave Dallas a 29-6 lead.

Owens finished with 213 receiving yards, which is tied for the fourth highest total in team history. It was the first time that a player had recorded 200 yards receiving since Kevin Williams in 1995 against Arizona.

Here is a list of the Cowboys’ players with 200 or more receiving yards in a game:

Date Player Yards Opp. Score
1966 Bob Hayes 246 Redskins W 31-30
1962 Frank Clarke 241 Redskins T 35-35
1967 Lance Rentzel 223 Redskins L 27-20
2008 Terrell Owens 213 49ers W 35-22
1979 Tony Hill 213 Eagles L 31-21
1992 Michael Irvin 210 Cardinals W 31-20
1989 James Dixon 203 Cardinals L 24-20
1995 Kevin Williams 203 Cardinals W 37-13

Tony Romo recorded his team-record 15th 300-yard game. His 341 yards was the second-highest total of his career, behind a 345-yard effort against the Giants in 2007.

And speaking of 2007, this game featured some of the ingredients that we saw in the 13-3 season last year: slow starts, big breaks, big plays, and then domination.

A big special teams play in the second quarter helped Dallas build more momentum after Owens scored his first touchdown. Carlos Polk blocked a punt attempt by Andy Lee. The ball went through the back of the end zone, giving Dallas a safety.

The last time Dallas blocked a punt was also at home against San Francisco. In 2002, Marcus Steele blocked a punt by Bill Lafleur.

The game wasn’t perfect by any means. The defense led San Francisco drive deep into Dallas territory twice in the first quarter, but the Cowboys turned the 49ers away both times (thanks partially to the referees not calling Anthony Henry for interference in the end zone). Henry and Terence Newman had trouble with Bruce, who had a great first half.

Can’t Afford a Letdown: Cowboys-49ers Preview

Nearly everyone has taken Dallas to beat San Francisco on Sunday, which gives us plenty of reason to worry about the game. On paper, Dallas matches up well against the 49ers, but of course, we can’t go one flipping week without some sort of controversy.

* * *

There are times I don’t agree with Jean-Jacques Taylor, but I agree with his assessment of Terrell Owens’ role in the Dallas offense.

Terrell Owens’ pedestrian numbers – 40 catches, 505 yards, six touchdowns and no 100-yard games – don’t lie.

Not after 10 games.

You expect more from a player who received a $12 million signing bonus and contract extension before the season. Maybe we shouldn’t have.

Perhaps T.O. simply isn’t as good as he used to be.

We all know T.O., who turns 35 on Dec. 7, will never admit to that. Nor would he ever admit to losing a step. The great ones rarely do.

That’s among the reasons Jerry Rice’s career ended in a Denver Broncos training camp, and why Emmitt Smith finished his career as a plodder in Arizona, averaging significantly less than 4.0 yards per carry.

What is more disturbing to me is that I agree with Jennifer Floyd Engel as well. Yuck.

Is T.O. done, an aging receiver in free fall? Or done in by The Redheaded Genius?

One guess as to how Terrell Owens rolls on this question.

Blame, whine, blame. Repeat.

He told his BFF Deion Sanders on an NFL Network telecast Thursday that he’s discouraged and frustrated by his lack of involvement and production and, of course, none of it is his fault.

“I can’t throw it and catch it,” he said. “It’s not that I can’t play. It’s the system which I’m in.”

Give T.O. credit for at least reinventing himself.

He’s done blaming a QB. So Cowboys offensive coordinator Jason Garrett has become his Donovan McNabb/Jeff Garcia this go-round. Of course, he didn’t even have the guts to call out RHG by name instead hinting around and blaming that darn system, a system that coincidentally he loved, loved, loved a year ago.

Apparently, the system drops balls, can’t get off the line in press coverage and can’t make plays when he catches the ball. T.O. is right. The system does stink.

I still don’t think it is merely a coincidence that nearly every receiver in NFL history (who lasted that long) has started to slow down around the age of 35. And I don’t care that Owens stays in shape. It has more to do with a little bit less spring off the ball, a little less of a burst when running routes, a little less strength to break tackles for longer gains.

Deion (the interviewer in the NFL Network interview) should know this. He was still the greatest corner in the game in 1998, but he fell to earth by 1999. With the Redskins in 2000, he was a shell of his former self, leading to his first retirement. And Deion was a better athlete in his prime than Owens and was younger than Owens when he retired for the first time. I know Deion had injuries, but at that stage, it was more about the excuses than it was about performance on the field. Just like our friend T.O.

* * *

Back to the game. . .

All eight Dallas Morning News reporters picked Dallas to beat San Francisco.

Likewise, the five ESPN experts picked Dallas.

At ESPN’s Football Today podcast, the entire staff took Dallas. Here is the clip:

[audio:http://www.knowyourdallascowboys.com/podcast/green.predict.week12.mp3]

* * *

Accuscore

Accuscore

The Cowboys won 74% of the simulations on Accuscore by an average score of 27.5 to 19.3. Our friend Owens caught an average of four receptions for 68 yards in the simulations, which is an improvement from the past many weeks.

What If Sports

What If Sports

Dallas won 82.1% of the WhatIfSports simulations by an average score of 29-15. Owens will be happier if these results are accurate, as he averaged 6 receptions for 80 yards with a touchdown.