The Undefeated Cowboys vs. the Undefeated Patriots, a combined 10-0 on the NFL calendar.
God bless you, Roger Goodell.
The 1972 Dolphins love this matchup, as one team is going to bring them closer to the annual champagne toast. From there it’s just possibly that Pats-Colts showdown to worry about, and then the flukes and bounces of the second half of the NFL season will seal their fate.
Thus far the Patriots have beaten five teams that are a combined 7-17; the Cowboys topped squads that are a combined 6-19. And this matchup seems so even that we’re going to be talking about a rematch in the Super Bowl before they even take the field on Sunday. Does ESPN even have enough air time Sunday morning for both Tom Brady AND Tony Romo?
Let’s give Romo this much, he recovered from his five-pick game at Buffalo Monday night in Brady-like fashion. But until the man actually can win a playoff game -– or at least not fumble the snap in one –- I don’t want to hear any more Sunday morning talk comparing him to Brett Favre, Troy Aikman, or, good grief, Tom Brady. Are we clear?
That Chargers game didn’t count, obviously, so for the first time all year, we have an entertaining Patriots game on our hands. And by entertaining I mean one in which they don’t expectantly demoralize their opponents by double digits every week.
The Pats will still win, but they have to actually make an effort this time.
Then again, when you break down Bill Belichick vs. Wade Phillips ... well, you might not get your money's worth.
Who they're picking
Our roundup of how writers around the country are picking Sunday's Patriots-Cowboys contest:
Jim McCabe, Boston Globe: Cowboys will cover 5½ point spread. “NFL commissioner Roger Goodell promises that he'll soon be squared away on Tank Johnson's disciplinary problems. Then the mess that is Pacman Jones will have his undivided attention. Only after those issues are handled will he be able to address the dilemmas involving Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan.”
The Boston Globe: Patriots across the board.
Cold, Hard Football Facts: Patriots 30, Cowboys 24. “New England fans are a little giddy, expecting the kind of beat-down the Patriots have shown in their first five games, outscoring opponents by better than 23 PPG. They should be a little more realistic.”
Peter King, Sports Illustrated: Patriots 28, Cowboys 24. “How can you not love this game? Dallas leads the Patriots in yards per game, 430-428. New England leads the Cowboys in points per game, 36-35. Brady-Romo. T.O.-Moss. Late game Sunday afternoon. National TV. Trying to figure out what wins here? My money's on Brady -- though all bets are off if Dallas cornerback Terence Newman plays the game of his life. And he's really, really good.”
ESPN.com: Patriots across the board.
Yahoo! sports: Patriots across the board.
Mike Tanier, Football Outsiders.com: Patriots 38, Cowboys 28. “The Cowboys won't dwell on the loss. They'll have their hearts set on a rematch.”
Pete Prisco, CBS Sports.com: Cowboys 33, Patriots 31. “The game of the week features two unbeaten teams that are scoring a lot of points. Does that mean a shootout? Yes, it does. This will be a lot of fun and the Cowboys will find a way to outscore the Patriots.”
Jeff Zillgitt, USA Today: Patriots 27, Cowboys 23. “The Patriots are the best team in the league right now, and until there's sufficient evidence to suggest otherwise, there's no reason to pick against them no matter the venue.”
King Kaufman, Salon.com: Patriots. “What I think it all comes down to is that while Brady is unflappable, Romo can be flapped, and the Patriots will come up with enough confusing, out-of-nowhere defensive schemes to force him into enough wild improvisations that a few of them will end in disaster. A few of them will also end up in spectacular success, which is one of many things that should make this game worth your investment of three and a half hours.”
Greg Cote, Miami Herald: Cowboys 34, Patriots 24. “So what makes picking an unbeaten Dallas meet standards of an Upset of the Week? Because Pats being favored by 5 ½ on the road and the fact that number grew during the week -- meaning Vegas was begging people to bet on the 'Boys -- verifies how strong a favorite NE is. But on a hunch I see Cows' D rattling and picking Brady a couple of times (Tom Terrific hasn't played in Dallas before) in a game lower-scoring than expected that makes Bill Belichick wish it was the good old days when he could still cheat.”
Our pick: Patriots 28, Cowboys 24. The 16-0 talk starts to percolate just a little bit more, with at least some validity now attached to it.