Will this be the year the Cowboys capitalize on their obvious, abundant talent?
Or are Tony Romo and company exactly what their history indicates? Big names that choke in big games.
Forgive the skepticism, but Dallas is just 1-3 in the postseason since Romo took over in 2006. The Cowboys have long been a team of talented individuals, yet the whole isn't always greater than the sum of their parts.
They are likable enough—America's presumed sweethearts.
But chronic underachievers.
This year Cowboys fans will be watching Tony Romo like mitochondria: Under the microscope.
Perhaps it's Romo's own fault for spoiling fans with gaudy numbers. Statistically, this season has been one of his best yet—a 97.5 QBR, 21/9 TD/INT ratio, 64.5 completion percentage and a projected 4,662 (career-high) passing yards should put him in back in the Pro Bowl, and then some.
With numbers like that it's a wonder he isn't more revered.
Right now, Tony Romo is where he has always been—knocking on the door of the truly elite: Drew Brees, Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Peyton Manning. Aside from those four, there isn't a more talented quarterback in the NFL than Tony Romo.
He's probably better than Ben Roethlisberger as well, but until Romo controls his destiny—as Roethlisberger did in two (let's face it, one) Super Bowls—he'll never be recognized as truly elite.
It amounts to making shrewd decisions in high-pressure situations. Romo doesn't make many mistakes; his career interception percentage is lowest in Cowboys history—lower than both Troy Aikman and Roger Staubach. But he has a history of making mistakes at the most inopportune times, dating back to his first playoff loss to the Seattle Seahawks in their 2006 Wild Card game, when Romo mishandled what would have been the game-winning field goal.
And although the Cowboys are atop the dysfunctional NFC East at 7-4, I think their strength of schedule is suspect; they've only beaten one team with a winning record (San Fransisco 49ers).
Aside from that game, their remaining SOS had just a .427 win percentage. They barely held on against Miami last week, 20-19, and they've lost every big game of the season—against the New York Jets, Detroit Lions, New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles.
Still, as is their way, the Cowboys have done enough to make you wonder. In losses to New England, Detroit and New York, they came up short by a total of just 11 points.
Almost, but not quite.
That's the Cowboys until proven otherwise.