FOXBORO, Mass. -- Musings, observations and the occasional insight as I watch the Patriots make Steelers second-year safety
• This was just the start for the Cowboys. Their first NFC East title since 1998 has been secured, and while it didn't come easily against the Lions on Sunday in Detroit, that merely confirms to me that Dallas is the only thing close to a dominant team in the NFC.
The way I have it, if the Cowboys can play as badly as they did against the Lions and still win, they're obviously much, much better than their opponents in the NFC. Looking ripe for the upset all day long, Dallas executed a very New England-like escape against the Lions. Detroit could have put that game away seven different ways, but the bottom line is the Cowboys hung around long enough to make a little fourth-quarter magic, scoring 14 points in the final 15 minutes to squeak out a 28-27 win.
Dallas has owned the second half all season, and that to me is a sign of a team that occasionally toys with its opponents, before turning up the intensity when crunch time arrives. And from the looks of it, just as he did at Buffalo earlier this season, Cowboys quarterback
The 12-1 Cowboys won't play a team the rest of the regular season who should give them a game. Dallas has Philly (5-8) next week at Texas Stadium, and then it travels to Carolina (5-8) and Washington (6-7) to close out the schedule. That's three losing teams between now and when the Cowboys open the playoffs at home in the divisional round -- most likely as the NFC's top seed.
I know what I expect to see in Glendale, Ariz., eight weeks from now: The greatest matchup of winning machines in Super Bowl history. That would be a New England team that enters 18-0 in its quest for perfection, against a Dallas squad that's 17-1, with its only loss in Week 6 to those very same Patriots. Two teams with a combined 35-1 record, and a .972 winning percentage.
How much fun would that be? They hype alone would be historic. Brady vs. Romo. Owens vs. Moss. Armageddon, indeed.
• Geez, that was a nice little season
Of Romo's 35 completions against the Lions, a whopping 27 of them went to non-wide receivers. Witten had his 15, but running back
• Do not underestimate the potential significance of San Diego's comeback win in overtime at Tennessee. Down 17-3 in the fourth quarter, with quarterback
The way San Diego won has to help its confidence as it approaches the playoffs, and even better news, the Chargers are again getting the ball into their play-makers hands when it matters most.
The Chargers have won three in a row and seven of nine, but maybe even more tellingly, they've won two in a row on the road after starting the season 1-4 away from Qualcomm Stadium.
• That wasn't exactly a triumphant return to Nashville for ex-Titans backup
Volek threw an incompletion on the only snap of his first drive. He threw an interception on the only snap of his second drive. On his third possession, he was sacked by Titans defensive tackle
• It's official now. The Lions are 6-7 and can't possibly hit the 10-win plateau that quarterback
• The Lions can pin their fifth consecutive loss on the play-calling of offensive coordinator
• I'm not sure all the king's horses and all the king's men can ever put the pieces back together for
• Smart move, Packers. With
As for Favre, he didn't fare too badly either, throwing for 266 yards on just 15 completions, including a pair of touchdowns. And the streak rolls on.
• People who continue to think that 0-13 Miami has a win coming somewhere need to wake up and smell the coffee. It's just not happening, folks. The Dolphins for a couple weeks now have run up the acqua, orange and white flag, and on top of that, they're going to get the best efforts of their last three opponents -- the Ravens, Patriots and Bengals -- because nobody wants to be the team that loses to these guys.
• Hey, is it crazy to suggest that
• The Pro Bowl teams get announced this week, and here are two new names who should be on the rosters if there's any one paying attention this season:
• Speaking of the Pro Bowl,
In his last five games, against the likes of Tennessee, San Diego, Buffalo, Indianapolis and Carolina, Taylor has run for 470 yards and three touchdowns. The Jaguars are 4-1 in that span, losing only at the Colts.
• Not only did the Raiders get spanked 38-7 at Green Bay, but also head coach
And no, it's not a coincidence that four of those five are losing teams.
• Caught a bit of
Pat Summerall. Calling a meaningless Rams-Bengals game in Week 14. Kind of sad. I remember when the very sound of Summerall's voice told you it was a big game.
• Towing a banner in its wake, a small plane circled Gillette Stadium in the pre-game hours before the Steelers-Patriots. The banner read:
Best I could tell,