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Tony Romo Is Not the NFL MVP and Dallas Is Not Ready for the Giants...Yet

Bleacher ReportSenior Writer IDecember 5, 2008

"I am terrified by the eternal silence of these infinite spaces."

—Blaise Pascal

Although Bleacher Report's reach is not quite as extensive as the universal boundaries that so moved Pascal, it is my own sports universe so its silence will do. I'm referring to an article I wrote within the last couple weeks about the Dallas Cowboys. The response was virtually nil.

That's odd for any article that is suspicious of the 'pokes.

But odd isn't necessarily scary. I've written lots of stuff that's been largely ignored and, due to my own delusional arrogance, I always think that's odd. The significant thing is that, not only was my warning ignored, anyone of larger influence in the sports world (read: any at all), who sounded the same alarm, was also ignored.

Because, sure enough, after demolishing two National Football League bottom-feeders—the San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks—the hype-machine is whirring along.

I've read how the Cowboys are the only team with a shot to dethrone the defending champs, the 11-1 New York Giants. I've read how the offense is officially fixed. Most recently, I've read that Tony Romo is the NFL's real Most Valuable Player. And it's all ridiculously premature.

Before everyone in the Lone Star State flips out, I'm not saying it won't happen or even that any of it is improbable.

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But let's look at this objectively.

There's no conclusive argument one way or the other with regard to Dallas' chances against NY. Ditto the offense. Dallas has looked great recently, which would support both assertions. However, the competition has been so abysmal that I'd argue you can draw almost no conclusion other than the 'boys are no longer a trainwreck.

So let's take the Tony Romo/MVP issue and pretend it's representative of the runaway hyperbole being showered on Dallas.

Again, I'm not saying Romo won't BE the MVP. I'm saying he is NOT CURRENTLY the MVP.

I'd argue that Brett Favre is. Compare the two quarterbacks statistically and Romo gets the nod, especially considering he missed three games.

Romo: QB rating = 102.3; completion % = 64.0; total yds = 2559; TDs = 21; INTs = 8
Favre: QB rating = 90.4; completion % = 68.7; total yds = 2708; TDs = 20; INTs = 14

Of course, those totals are probably misleading to a degree. I watched the Niners game and I saw Romo throw several decent passes that Terrell Owens turned into touchdowns. I saw the same in several other highlights. Maybe Laverneus Coles, Jericho Cotchery, et alia are doing the same for Favre, but something tells me most quarterbacks would rather throw to Dallas' playmakers.

Regardless, Romo's got a leg up on Favre, statistically speaking.

However, despite the growing sentiment to the contrary thanks to the rise in popularity of fantasy sports, statistics are not the true measure of value in any sport. Especially football. Contribution to winning is the only true measure of value; statistics help approximate this, but they are insufficient in a vacuum. Especially in the NFL.

So let's look at that aspect of each quarterback's resume.

Tony Romo

His team is 8-4; he piloted wins over the Cleveland Browns, Cincinnati Bengals, Philadelphia Eagles, Green Bay Packers, Niners, Seahawks, and Washington Redskins; he took the snaps in losses to the Arizona Cardinals and Washington Redskins while playing very well in both; Dallas is in second place in a tough division, but sits outside the postseason at the moment and still faces a brutal home stretch.

Brett Favre

His team is also 8-4; he piloted wins over the Miami Dolphins, Cardinals, Bengals, Kansas City Chiefs, Buffalo Bills, St. Louis Rams, New England Patriots, and Tennessee Titans; he took snaps in losses to the Pats, the San Diego Chargers, the Oakland Raiders, and the Denver Broncos while playing terribly in each case; New York is in first place in a tough division and, though not promised the postseason, sits in good shape with an easy schedule remaining

By that measure, which is the more important according to most football people, Brett's got Tony dusted.

He played extremely well against the stiffest competition, leading his teams to wins over the 7-5 Pats, the 11-1 Titans, the 7-5 Cardinals, the 7-5 Dolphins, and the 6-6 Bills back when they were good (arguably, the Jets could be credited for knocking the wheels off Buffalo's wagon since that win was in Buffalo). He also played very poorly in the Jets' losses.

Meanwhile, Romo's only beaten two teams over .500 (the 7-5 'skins and 6-5-1 Eagles) and he played terribly in the Washington game. He's posted awesome numbers against terrible teams and played terrifically in the two losses Dallas suffered with him behind center.

That tells me the Jets ride-or-die with Bert. Not so for Dallas and Romo.

Then there's the issue of durability and the games Romo missed.

Some argue that this weighs in Romo's favor because Dallas struggled so mightily in his absence. I'd tend to agree with that, but I wouldn't give it as much weight. Consider that the offense was awful, but Dallas still posted its most impressive win of the season (over the 9-3, division-leading Tampa Bay Buccaneers) in his absence. Also consider the two losses were to the Rams in Brad Johnson's first game and to the Giants in New York.

Yes, Romo probably wins that game against St. Louis, but I don't believe for a second it's a given he wins in New York. In fact, I'd argue that it's much closer to a given that Dallas would've lost, just by a narrower margin.

Furthermore, absence is analogous to playing poorly. In both instances, you could say the real player is missing. From that angle, Favre looks more valuable because the Jets have yet to survive his "absence" against a good team. Meanwhile, Romo was "absent" for Dallas' two most impressive wins.

Finally, doesn't Favre get credit for playing all 12 games to date? The injury was not Romo's fault, but he still missed three of 16 games.

Don't get me wrong. None of this proves Brett Favre is the MVP. Angel Navedo, who is a Jets fan on B/R who I greatly respect, doesn't even think he's the MVP of the team. And there are tons of other worthy candidates.

Additionally, Romo has a chance to win the award in the next four games against some very stiff competition, especially defensively. He may very well do it. I'm beginning to come around on the guy because I think I've overestimated the offensive line and, consequently, underestimated his elusiveness.

I've also greatly underestimated his value as a person. That homeless guy/movie story was tremendously impressive. I consider myself the salt-of-the-earth and I'd never even consider doing that. Still wouldn't.

On the other hand, I am not a fan of Ol' Bert.

I think he handled his exit from GB like a punk diva instead of the grizzled vet he's supposed to be, he chucked a young kid under the bus in the process, and he delivered far too much pain on my Niners in the '90s.

But fair is fair.

At this point in the season, Brett Favre has been far more valuable than Tony Romo. And yet the hype that propels all things emblazoned with a Star is pushing that very idea as if there isn't even a doubt about it.

Along with the idea that Dallas is suddenly ready to challenge the Giants.

And it's all lunacy. This weekend's game against Pittsburgh will give us an idea of the degree.

If Romo plays well and Dallas wins on the road, then all this talk will take on some meaning and credibility.

Right now though, it's all just hot air and wishful thinking.

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