North of the 400

North of Toronto, South of a championship

Romo and the Boys / NFL Divisional predictions

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Stat of the Week No. 3: From the point Tony Romo was named to the Pro Bowl, Dallas lost all remaining games.
– Greg Esterbrook, ESPN.com, Jan. 9, 2007

As Tony Romo attempted to scramble into the end zone, the Cowboys season flashed before my eyes. I saw Drew Bledsoe choking; I saw Terrell Owens denying that he attempted suicide; I saw Keyshawn Johnson leaving under a cloud; I saw Tony Romo show flashes of brilliance between his flashes of incompetence.

And as he couldn’t make it into the end zone… Well, frankly, I wasn’t surprised. It seemed so typical of the Cowboys this year – to get so close, but finish just oh-so-short.

From their regular season when Bledsoe went down for the count and a young hotshot named Tony Romo, who despite having been in the NFL for a few years (could it be three already?) had never having taken a snap, came in and was fairly solid – even though my main memory will be of him making a pass that looked quite like Magic’s hook shot in game four of the ’87 Finals – and became something of a golden boy, a savior to a Cowboys team that looked ready to sink at any given moment.

And he saved them from sinking, at least for a little while. From the spats that coach Parcells had with Terrell Owens and Mike Vanderjact to a starting QB (Bledsoe) and one of their major off-season signings (Vanderjact) not working out to TO being, well, himself, it looked as if the Cowboys were going to have hard time going .500, at least for a while.

When Romo took over in week 6 the Cowboys were 3-2. In his next start, facing the Giants, the Cowboys lost – and then Romo started to click. He, and the Cowboys, won the next five out of six games. With him at the helm, the Cowboys went on a tear, cumulating with a 38-10 demolition of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers where Romo threw for 5 touchdowns and over 300 yards.

But, looking back, that seems to be just where both he and Cowboys peaked. The next week, against the Giants, the Cowboys just squeeked past them, winning on a last second field goal; and while Romo passed for over 250 yards, he didn’t pass for a single TD and was picked off twice.

The next week the Cowboys lost to New Orleans, 42-17. Romo was picked off twice again and completed less then half his passes.

For all of his early wins, since that win over the Giants, Romo has passed for six touchdowns and has been picked off eight times. He’s lost more games then he’s won since he was named to the NFL Pro Bowl – and lost 3 of his last four games this season.

So, what does all this mean? Is Romo really that good – or is he really that much of a goat? I’m not sure, at least not yet. I do know, however, that any Cowboy fan can thank Romo for getting the Cowboys to the playoffs just as much as they can thank him for their early exit.

*********

NFL Divisional Playoff Predictions:

NFC
Philadelphia Eagles @ New Orleans Saints
My pick: The Saints

If there’s one thing that I’m sure about these days, it’s that I wouldn’t want to be coaching a team that’s on the road against a team like the New Orleans Saints. The Saints have won 5 out of 8 games at home this year. However, they have lost two of their last three at home (their last win being on December 3rd, over San Francisco). Still, they have a great offence (391 yards per game, 25.8 points per game) that’s facing a defence that allows over 320 yards and over 20 points a game. Even with all of the question marks that the Saints have, I just can’t see the Eagles upsetting them, even if the Eagles were at home.

Seattle Seahawks @ Chicago Bears
My pick: Dah Bears

And speaking of teams that are good at home, we have the Chicago Bears and their frozen Soldier Field vs. the Seahawks. Normally I’d go with the Bears just because of their home-field advantage and their defence. However, Rex Grossman, who has been looking better and better as the season goes on (his week 13 performance notwithstanding) is facing a Seattle defence that is, well, less then stellar. He’ll need a big game to beat the Seahawks, but I expect he’ll come through.

AFC
Indianapolis Colts @ Baltimore Ravens
My pick: The Colts

This is the first time that the Colts have been to Baltimore to play a postseason game in years – not since they left the city, in fact – and they won’t disappoint. For all of their question marks coming into the postseason – their run defence, for example – they have looked very good, especially in their shutdown of the Kansas City Chiefs last week. This is a trend that I expect to continue, as they should wallop the Ravens. Why? The Ravens are a team that’s been led by Steve McNair, who while rebounding from his last few seasons is still no match for the Colts defence. And as for their defence, led by Ray Lewis, the Colts are again more then a match – The Colts lead the AFC in yards per game (379) and are second in points per game (26). Receivers Reggie Wayne and Marvin Harrison have looked good lately (especially Harrison, who had six touchdown catches in his last three regular season games).

New England Patriots @ San Deigo Chargers
My pick: The Chargers

The Chargers are the mirror image of the Colts; they rank second in yards per game (365) and first in points per game (30). And they have the best player in the NFL, LaDainian Tomlinson, doing most of it: he runs for touchdowns, he catches for touchdowns – he even throws for touchdowns. Thanks to him, the Chargers have only lost two games – by a combined six points. The Patriots will have to pretty much focus their entire defence on LT to stop him – and by doing so, they open the door for quarterback Drew Rivers, who has thrown for 22 touchdowns this year, and Antonio Gates, who has caught nine of them. It’ll be tough to keep the Chargers from running away with this game, and I’m sure that Tom Brady will be more then game for it. He comes into this game having one of he better seasons: yardage is down, but his completion percentage is up. And he’s facing a defence that allows over 200 passing yards a game. Regardless, I think that San Diego will be able to eke this one out. However, it’ll be close.

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Written by M.

January 11, 2007 at 4:23 pm

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