A bygone birdie told me I should write something about the National Football League since America's Table is on hiatus. I've found it's usually a good idea to listen to such voices.
Plus, the timing is perfect.
In case you haven't heard, the Dallas Cowboys beat the Atlanta Falcons. If that is news to you, this must be your first foray into the datasphere since the games Sunday because—as is usually the case—the big boys were all over it.
Howie Long at FOX Sports proclaimed it Cowboys-team-we-expected">the arrival of the Cowpokes that the so-called experts predicted before the season started. Meanwhile, ESPN's NFL page leads off with a picture of Miles Austin front and center.
Understand, I'm only making observations, no implicit judgments. In truth, there's nothing inherently wrong with the hype.
As far as I can tell, everything Long said was totally appropriate. I'm not enough of a jackass to question the football analysis; Hollywood Howie is in Canton and I've never taken a snap on an organized gridiron.
However, there weren't any wider proclamations of Super Bowl runs based on a single win or other nonsensical bits of hyperbole that so often follow Dallas like a palpable stench—the FOX studio personality merely pointed to a solid victory over a good team and an upcoming soft spot in the schedule.
Seemed totally reasonable.
With regard to ESPN's adulation of Austin, the dude's scorched the League for 16 catches, 421 yards, and four touchdowns in his past two games. Only a single fumble and the fact that one of his big games came against the Kansas City Chiefs sully the picture.
When a professional wide receiver averages eight grabs, more than 200 yards, and two scores for any period of time, it's probably reason for some coverage. Especially when he hasn't shot anyone, thrown any of his teammates under the bus, played Stepin Fetchit for the television cameras, or demonstrated any of the other tedious traits of several of the most prominent wideouts.
Instead, Miles Austin has been content to simply thrash opposing defenses. Not too bad for an undrafted chump from Monmouth University.
Can you feel the 'but' coming?
Look at the Dallas Cowboys' 2009 resume to date, which boasts a record of 4-2:
Week 1 — a 34-21 win over the 0-7 Buccaneers in Tampa Bay.
Week 2 — a 31-33 loss to the division-rival and 5-2 New York Giants to open the new palace known as Cowboys Stadium.
Week 3 — a 21-7 win over the 2-4 Carolina Panthers for the first W in the new digs, the Panthers have managed wins over Tampa and the abysmal Washington Redskins, Sunday saw them dominated by the mighty Buffalo Bills.
Week 4 — a 10-17 loss to the undefeated and apparently real-deal Broncos in Denver (6-0).
Week 5 — a 26-20 overtime win over the 1-6 Chiefs in Kansas City, their lone win coming against those accommodating Redskins, Sunday saw the Chefs manhandled by the San Diego Chargers.
Week 6 — bye.
Week 7 — the aforementioned 37-21 win over the now 4-2 Falcons in Dallas.
So that's one good win and three lay-ups (one of which turned into a struggle) to go with two respectable L's. Not too much to crow about.
Let's get one more thing on the record. What do the Giants, Philadelphia Eagles, Green Bay Packers, Falcons, Arizona Cardinals, New England Patriots, Cincinnati Bengals, and Pittsburgh Steelers have in common?
It's rhetorical—they all have the same number of losses as the Cowboys with at least the same number of victories (the Giants, Pats, Bungles, and Steelers all have five).
The Football Giants are leading the National Football Conference East, which happens to be Dallas' division, and have dropped two in a row. The Pack has its big date with the Minnesota Vikings at Lambeau Field this week. The Cardinals wrestled the NFC West lead away from the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday by handing the G-Men their second defeat.
Both 'Nati and the Pattycakes are atop their groupings—the American Football Conferences North and East, respectively.
Based on the Cowboys' body of work, it's hard to believe those other squads don't have a more compelling array of wins and losses.
Consequently, the obvious question is, as always, what makes the Dallas Cowboys so freakin' special?
There seems to be ample reason to focus on any number of organizations that have more impressive 2009 seasons to date. All seem as relevant, if not more so, to the developing playoff picture and several have much bigger storylines in the works.
As I said, the victory over the Atlanta Falcons was important and possibly even a watershed moment for the 'Pokes.
But the same thing can be said about Arizona's big W in New York. Or the Saints' phenomenal comeback against the Miami Dolphins. Or Cinci's bombing of the Chicago Bears. Or the return of Troy Polamalu spurring Pittsburgh onto triumph... over the previously undefeated Vikings.
Yet it's always the Star that gets top-billing at the first possible moment.
As Howie Long emphasized, the schedule is about to deliver five eminently winnable games to the Dallas Cowboys' doorstep. Which means America better be ready for a whole lotta Cowboy coverage.
The clouds are already forming...