The NFL is already off to an extremely exciting start. And fans should be prepping for a year that appears to really be wide open (as usual). And who would want it any other way? There are many major storylines already in my eyes, but one has really stood out to me.
Storyline : Two Super Bowl favorites, the Dallas Cowboys and Minnesota Vikings are 0 and 2. Who would have thought this would be the case? Both of theses teams were extremely common picks to not only win their respective divisions, but to win the entire NFC. Which one of them in worse shape? Do either still have a chance to make the playoffs?
The Cowboys have lost to 2 teams that most did not have making any noise this season. The Redskins and Bears are not exactly thought of as powerhouse teams (though the Bears sit at 2 and 0). This Dallas team is as talented as ever. This team is experienced. Supposed to be solid on both sides of the ball. Jerry Jones is not a happy man. Dallas is 4th in yards in yards gained this year, and 11th in total D. So they are doing okay both offensively and defensively. So what is the problem?
Well for one, they are not scoring enough points. In their first two ball games, they have given up 40 total points while they have only scored 27. This all stems from a continued Red Zone conversion problem in Dallas. Experts talked about this problem all season last year, especially down the stretch. And the preseason, nor these first two weeks have looked to ease any of these worries. In addition, could the pressure be getting to guys like Romo? The core of this team has been winning for a good few years now. But they have not gotten over the hump like Emmit Smith and Troy Aikman were able to do in the mid 90s. Romo has never been known as Mr. Clutch. And yesterday, he demonstrated his lack of big game ability with 2 crucial INTs. The other major problem for the Boys, a non-existent rushing attack. This team ran for 36 yards yesterday. I know the game is turning into a pass first style, but 36 rushing yards is unacceptable if you are expecting to win a game in the NFL. Not to mention they only ran for 89 yards in Week 1 (they are 27th in the League in rushing yards).
The Cowboys must learn how to convert consistently in the Red Zone with touchdowns. They must also develop a reliable rushing attack. If they can do these two things, they will definitely be able to still make a run at the playoffs.
The Cowboys have a very tough first place schedule. A turnaround will not be easy. Plus they head to Houston against a very tough Texans team next week. Though it is possible, do not expect this team to be playing a “Home” Game in this year’s Super Bowl. I would not count on them even making the playoffs either. Too many egos. Too many internal issues. Expect the Cowboys to finish 8 and 8 or 9 and 7, just missing the playoffs.
The Vikings are currently sitting at 0 and 2, even with their “savior” Brett Favre. At least they get to take the Lions on at home next week to put a mark in the win column right?
This team has no offense so far. Other than in the rushing category, this team is in the lower half of the League in every offensive statistical category, including 29th in points. For all the talk of Brett Favre being possibly the “Greatest Quarterback of All Time,” he has looked extremely human through 2 games. Now I realize this team has some major injuries hurting their receiving corps. But the way the unit has played, has been unacceptable. They have mustered up 19 total points against two teams, that do not feature great defenses (Saints and Dolphins). The major problem for this squad has not been the defense. In actuality, their defense ranks 8th overall in the League. And it hasn’t been the rushing attack. It’s been # 4’s gunslinger mentality. Brett’s interceptions are a huge reason why this very talented team is sitting at 0 and 2.
Run the ball more. Continue to give Adrian 25 plus carries a game. Until star receiver Sidney Rice returns, this team will have to live and die on the run. Brett’s confidence is a bit down. And if the team can put together a couple of wins, he will get his swagger back. But the defense overall has been fine. Adrian Peterson has been awesome. But Favre must cut down on the turnovers. Possibly give the man a simpler game plan if possible (just don’t let him know you are babying him). Give him a lot of plays where he gets to utilize his tight ends. The problem is, you do not want to mess Brett Favre’s ego. So it is definitely a touchy area and easier said than done to fix this problem.
I feel this team is perfectly fine. I still fully expect them to nab at least a Wild Card. Though they have to play a first place schedule, just like Dallas, I feel like their division is not as deep. Therefore they will have a few more games that are very winnable, and this will be the difference. I also hate to say it, but I don’t see Brett missing the playoffs in his “final” season.
So neither of these teams are down and out yet. I believe both of them will finish at least 8 and 8 due to the fact that they are far too talented not to win as many games as they lose. But I will admit that I feel Dallas is in big trouble in their pursuance of a playoff spot.
So what are your thoughts?
Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.