Tony Romo and the Dallas Cowboys: Can They Achieve a NFC Divisional Title?

Bryson TreeceContributor IJanuary 12, 2010

ARLINGTON, TX - JANUARY 09:  Quarterback Tony Romo #9 of the Dallas Cowboys during the 2010 NFC wild-card playoff game at Cowboys Stadium on January 9, 2010 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

It’s time for a change.

Among all the talk, analysis, and predictions lies a very rudimentary fact—it is time for a change in Dallas and in the NFL.

No longer are the Dallas Cowboys doomed to be a one-and-done team when they even make the playoffs. No longer can we say that Tony Romo isn’t the real deal. Why? During this season he’s gone from Tony “Oh No” to being declared one of the elite quarterbacks in the game—and all it took was a late season push and a single playoff win.

Never mind that Romo played in the last four wins as he did in the last two losses. Even his four-game streak without an interception thrown surrounding the second Giants game isn’t recognized without the playoff victory.

Let's look at the numbers, I am a numbers kind of guy after all. In Dallas' last two losses—against the Giants and Chargers—Romo averaged 321 yards a game, 7.7 yards per completion, a 68.9 completion percentage, a 111.9 QB rating, and he was sacked three times while tossing 5 touchdowns and netting no interceptions or fumbles. Those are two games lost, mind you.

In the following four games, all of which were won, Romo averaged 288 yards a game, 8.2 yards per completion, a 66.7 completion percentage, a 100.4 QB rating, and he was sacked eight times. The real difference here being that he threw for six touchdowns, but also two interceptions. He still didn't fumble the ball.

As if he got better from those two December losses people are anointing him. The reality is that he has actually played worse in the current four game winning streak.

It took winning a playoff game and surging late to change the perspective, and prognosis on Romo’s still young career, at least according to the experts.

But I submit that if the Cowboys lose this Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings that we will all revisit our condemnation of Romo and head into what we will ultimately make a bitter offseason. Am I missing something here?

Looking ahead at this game, I see but one important position and that is the quarterback. Tony Romo is performing at a level that any hallmark quarterback must play at to succeed in the postseason.

This game will be about defense once Dallas’ D plants themselves on the field. It will be about offense when Romo and company are on the turf.

Brett Favre has had an outstanding career that many young quarterbacks still aspire to, and at 40 years old, he is playing better than ever. His yards and touchdowns have increased while his trademark gunslinger, turnover emitting persona has all but been wiped away.

And just as this Cowboys defense peeled back his many layers to expose his biggest flaws on Nov. 29, 2007, we will again witness Favre’s true colors. He may be suiting up in purple, but he’s still the high-potential liability that he has always been.

Expect Dallas to blitz early and often, while DeMarcus Ware, Anthony Spencer, and Jay Ratliff can throw Favre off his game. Expect Mike Jenkins to continue jumping the ball while Newman presents a less-than-normal but still effective performance.

You can expect that because this Vikings offense is built in much the same way that the Eagles offense is—save for the Adrian Peterson powered rushing attack. But Peterson is prone to fumble the ball, and this Dallas defense has been exceedingly stingy of late.

Anticipate Tony Romo to direct this will-imposing offense with skill as he calls out adjustments to the Vikings defensive set. Anticipate Felix Jones finding holes on this rush happy defensive line. Anticipate Miles Austin beating the coverage deep while Crayton and Witten find holes in the shallow secondary.

Anticipate the Cowboys to employ more of what we saw last week against Philly—a healthy dose of wide receiver screens for mild to moderate gains.

You can rest assured that this offense will be balanced, having run 35 pass plays and 35 rush plays against Philly in the Wild Card round.

But most importantly, you can expect a Dallas team brimming with confidence and perseverance against this Vikings team that is as of yet untested in a playoff environment, a team that has seen its fair share of struggle and inconsistency during the last month of play.

The Cowboys have everything they need to send the Vikings off the field with heads hung low, just as the Vikings have everything they need to send the Cowboys home on a low note. The difference is going to be the first quarter of play.

The Cowboys must prove a few theories to know what works and what does not. The Cowboys must get the mistakes out of their system in order to move forward into the second quarter. That’s what this team is built around right now—resilience—and this week's game will be no different.

I predict that the X-factor in this game will be the added presence of both TE John Phillips and WR Roy Williams. Neither has been an instrumental part of this team's success, but both have been coming on lately. Phillips is a rookie and still presents a great deal of unknowns for any defense, while Williams is simply peeking at his potential.

Call it a Cowboys win, 31-27.

For more from Bryson Treece—visit Dallas Cowboys Nation .