Pounding the Rock

Cowboys look to regain championship form

How 'bout them Cowboys? This could be the year, should be the year, hopefully will be the year the Cowboys regain their rightful place atop the NFL, looking down on the lesser teams in the league.

The Cowboys haven't won a championship since the 1995 season. Their win over the Pittsburgh Steelers was their third Super Bowl victory in four years. Pretty impressive. After that season the Cowboys fell apart and haven't really challenged since.

Going through the two coaching changes after the Barry Switzer era was almost as painful as the Barry Switzer era itself. Chan Gailey, and then Dave Campo, ravaged the Cowboys with ineffective calls. Worse yet was the total lack of respect players had for these two coaches.

Enter Bill Parcells in 2003. Every Cowboy fan at the time knew only something good could come from this. Parcells is a no-nonsense type of fellow who demands respect and gets it.

That year he took an average football team and forced them into a 10-6 playoff team with his sheer will. Sure they lost in the wild-card game but no one expected them not to.

The next year the Cowboys went 6-10, despite having the number one defense in the league. That meant the offense was producing yards, or more importantly, points. Rookie running back Julius Jones was hurt for a large portion of the season, but when he came back he just exploded with huge running games towards the end of that lost season. Things were looking good for 2005.

Last year they finished 9-7 and missed the playoffs. If a couple of bad games went the other way, the Cowboys would have been in. It wouldn't of mattered much, the Seahawks would have destroyed them in the playoffs.

This year feels differently though and it has a lot to do with trouble-maker Terrell Owens. Anyone who listens or watches ESPN will know this guy's history.

He is undoubtedly the best receiver in football and at the same time one of the most selfish and non-team players there is. If he's happy, things will go great, if he's not, things will probably go bad.

I'm counting on Owens being happy this year or, barring that, acting like he's happy. He's done too much to hurt his image, I think, to try any of the stuff he did in Philadelphia or San Francisco.

As a Cowboy fan I hated T.O. His stepping on the Cowboy star every time he could drove me crazy. Now he's on my team. Decisions must be made and I'll support him, as long as he scores lots of touchdowns.

Quarterback Drew Bledsoe should be able to toss up quite a number of touchdowns with Owens and Terry Glen catching the balls.

And the defense is looking good this year. I know it's only pre-season but I'll take it. Anything to get the season started off on a positive note. The Cowboy's D was number one in the league two years ago.

Looking at the team's 2006 schedule, they should be able to make the playoffs. The toughest games for Dallas this season will be the six division games they must play. The New York Giants, Washington Redskins and the Philadelphia Eagles will be tough to run the table on so Dallas can probably expect at least one loss between those three teams, maybe more.

They play Jacksonville to start the season off and then have Indianapolis, Carolina and Tampa Bay. These games will be very tough but that's it. Tennessee, Houston, New Orleans, Atlanta and Detroit should all fall easily enough if Dallas does its job.

One other team might give the Cowboys some trouble and that's Arizona. They've made some decent moves in the off-season that might make some difference. This game is too close to call.

I believe the Cowboys can easily go 11-5 this year and they might make a run at 13-3. The biggest obstacle they will face in the play-offs is the Seattle Seahawks.

The Hawks remain the team to beat in the NFC, but, if the Cowboys can do it, they should be back on top.


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