Dallas Cowboys Tickets for the Must Win Games

As of Week 9, there is only one division that has been decided, the NFC West. However, there is one more at the cusp of picking a clear winner, the NFC East. This is especially unsettling to those with Dallas Cowboys tickets. Yes, the experts were unsure that the Cowboys would win a paltry 8 games, but the local fan base expected much more.

The good news is Dallas is far from out of contention. The next four weeks could not be more different for the Cowboys and division-leading New York Giants. Dallas has four cream puffs with a combined 11-21 record. The only team with a winning record is the Buffalo Bills at 5-3, but they have lost 2 of the last 3 games as Ryan Fitzgerald has struggled. New York has one hellish itinerary over the next four games. The 49ers, Eagles, Saints, and Packers are four teams with a combined 24-9 record. The only team with a losing record is the Eagles and they have won 2 of the last 3 games.

The Cowboys should be able to vanquish the Bills, Redskins, Dolphins, and Cardinals just in time for the Week 14 matchup with the Giants; even with the bevy of injuries at skill positions on both sides of the football. At the very least, the Cowboys should be able to take three of the four, enter the home game at Cowboys Stadium at 7-5 and in position tie for first place at the very least.

Frankly, with how the early NFC playoff picture is shaping up, the Dallas Cowboys have to finish in first place because it appears the East will be without a wild card representative in the 2011 NFL playoffs. The Detroit Lions are the front runner for the first spot and the Chicago Bears and Atlanta Falcons are in position and playing with the momentum to take the last wild card spot.

Also, the NFC East’s preseason favorite, the Eagles, may be in the beginning of a midseason renaissance. Philly has two straight division wins and they stayed close through three quarters before bowing out to the Bears in the fourth. This is not atypical in the NFC East. Often it is the last team to make a run that wins the division. The Giants do not appear to be the typical NFC East team though, as Eli Manning has sparkled and his reputation has filled in the void left by Peyton’s unusual absence. That means this is the lone opportunity, nay… campaign before the Dallas Cowboys, Tony Romo, and his broken rib have resigned themselves to a postseason lamenting and watching from the couch.

Which NFC Team’s Fans Should Be Expecting Super Bowl Tickets This February?

One look at the NFC standings and I wonder if any of these teams truly deserve Super Bowl tickets to Cowboys Stadium as players or fans. The list of teams more than two games over .500 is short, just four teams. This is quite embarrassing compared to the plethora of AFC teams meeting that criterion – eight teams. Of those four teams with the best early season chances, which is most likely to survive the remaining 10 weeks of the NFL schedule?

Least Likely

 Tampa Bay Buccaneers(4-2)

Should I be giving the Buccaneers some respect? They are 4-2 and have a few fourth quarter wins under their belt. Certainly, I do not want to give Josh Freeman the chance to win the game with two minutes left. But, this is the same team being outscored by 30 points over the course of the season.

How is this possible? Well, the wins have been stomach churning affairs. They won in Week 1 by three games, Week 2 by 13, Week 5 by 3, and Week 7 by 1. The losses have been nothing less than utter devastation. I tried to find the appropriate word to describe the 25 points loss in Week 3 and Week 6 and all of them – annihilation, cataclysm, catastrophe, decimation, holocaust, annihilation, genocide, carnage, slaughter, massacre – seemed germane.

What’s more, the wins have come against a field of teams (Browns, Panthers, Bengals, and Rams) with a collective 8-18 record. The wins have against teams (Steelers and Saints) fielding a combined 9-4 record. Basically, it appears the Bucs a slightly below average team surviving against terrible teams with quarterback problem.

The Bucs have some major offensive issues of their own. Although Freeman likes to play the role of 21st century Captain Comeback, he can hardly be praised for being dangerous all game long. His total quarterback rating is 82.8, the 22nd best in the league. He has issues with completion percentage (58.8 percent, 24th) and yards per pass (6.31, 27th). There is no turmoil at this position, that upheaval is coming at the running back position.

Cadillac Williams is averaging 2.5 yards a carry and has gone from the feature back to splitting time with LaGarrette Blount to the verge of being little more than a third down and goal line back. I believe the Buccaneers season is in Blount’s hands. If he can become an effective feature back and allow Freeman to do little more than have to make big throws using the play action, then the Buccaneers might actually be a dangerous team.

The schedule is stacked from Week 12 on, with Baltimore beginning the sequence of potential playoff ending opponents. Until then, the Bucs can feast on the likes of the Cardinals, 49ers, and their second division game against the Panthers. The Falcons will be a reality check in Week 10. If this ends in another 20-plus point blowout, I expect Tampa to end the season on a 0-6 run.

Just Barely Better Than the Bucs

Seattle Seahawks (4-2)

When I say I do not know what to make of the Seattle Seahawks, I do not mean I do not know if they are a good team or a great team. I mean I do not know if they are a mediocre team or an average team. Luckily, they play in the NFC West, where mediocre is average and average is king. So far they have gone 2-1 against division opponents and I expect them to finish the 2010 season at least 4-2 in the division. Outside of the division, they have an identical 2-1 record, winning against teams on the verge of implosion (Chargers and Bears).

Really, the only thing this team does well is stop the run. They have the second best run defense in terms of yards surrendered and the second best yards per carry allowed. If I was going to do one thing well, I guess stopping the run would be the aspect of football to specialize. You build on defense around stopping the run, so this is a good place to start. Why do I say that and why is this is a major part of the reason the Seahawks allow just 17.8 points a game (5th)? Well, run defense plays a major role in stopping other teams from scoring when the field becomes much shorter in the red zone and it is more difficult to spread the field with passing routes.

I also have to give the Seahawks some credit at quarterback. Matt Hasselbeck is not the perennial near-Pro Bowl caliber player he once was, but he is still an experienced quarterback that knows how to win. Think of it as muscle memory, and some of that memory has survived the countless concussions. Now more of a game manager, I still have confidence he could lead a rally in the final minutes of the fourth quarter, a position he will likely be in thanks to the stingy defense.

If I were a Seahawks fan I would feel significantly better about the offense if new number one running back Marshawn Lynch could run for near 4 yards a carry. He and Justin Forsett may work well if they split time and punish the oppositions defensive line. Basically, I would rank the Seahawks as an average team if they could control clock and limit the run. If they can only stop the run, then this team is nothing more than a slight notch above mediocre.

That slight notch could be good enough to win the division, but they are going to see some competition from a lucky Rams team (the lone division team to beat them). Looking at the schedule, the Seahawks play three teams capable of ending their perfect season at home at Qwest Field, the Giants, Chiefs, and Falcons. I only see one away game completely out of reach for Seattle, the Week 11 game with the Saints. Oddly enough, I can see the Seahawks ending the season with 10 wins, but fully expect a first round loss.

The Real Contenders

Atlanta Falcons (5-2)

The Atlanta Falcons are on top of the standings in the NFC South, arguably the best division in the NFC. They have the 14th best passing offense, the 6th best running offense, average the 12th most points, have the 8th best run defense, hold the opposition to the ninth fewest points, and are tied for the fifth most takeaways in the NFC. In fact, the 11 picks offset the fifth worst pass defense. This is as complete a football team as there is in the NFC and maybe the NFL. This is an elite team with a realistic shot at playing in Super Bowl XLV.

Why do I like this team so much, apart from the stats? They are young with a third year quarterback quickly maturing into a top tier player at his position in Matt Ryan, a wide receiver who might be the best in the NFL in 2010 in Roddy White, a couple of running backs with yards per carry averages greater than 4.0 in Michael Turner and Jason Snelling, and the token veteran leader in TE Tony Gonzalez.

I am not 100 percent sure this is “the” team in the NFC though. Why backtrack after lauding them in the past two paragraphs? Well, apart from covering my own butt, I took a look at the schedule. They lost in Week 1 in overtime to a Steelers team without Ben Roethlisberger. They lost badly in Week 6 to an Eagles team with Kevin Kolb starting in place of Michael Vick. They barely beat the struggling Saints and the a Bengals team stuck in purgatory.

Luckily, they play four more games against the Carolina Panthers and the Tampa Bay Bucs, a team I fully expect to breakdown in the second half of the season. This means four more wins. This puts them at 9 wins with five more games to play. I believe the Falcons will draw a first round bye, giving their players a weeks rest after nine straight weeks of playing this physically brutal sport and giving leaving them a home game away from the NFC Championship.

New York Giants (4-2)

Despite the letdown out of the NFC East (Isn’t this an annual occurrence? A big letdown in the first half followed by redemption and insanity in the second.), the New York Giants are leading the way with a 4-2 record. They have Top-10 rankings in passing yards (9th), running yards (4th), passing yards allowed (2nd), and rushing yards allowed (3rd). The Giants average the 8th most points in the NFL (25) and are tied for forcing the third most turnovers in the NFC (16). It appears the only thing that can beat New York and end their Super Bowl aspirations is team itself.

There is an old football adage proclaiming the team that wins the turnover battle wins the game. So far, the Giants have amassed 21 turnovers while just taking away 16. This is the biggest concern for New York Giants fans. Even scarier is the fact it is equally the fault of running backs and special teams as the inconsistent Eli Manning. The team has 11 fumbles and 10 interceptions.

Another question that must be raised is: Is the NFC bad enough that a team tortured by its predilection to loose the football can win the conference? The Giants still force turnovers and still force opposing quarterbacks out of the pocket and into terrible throws. They still have a stifling run defense. They still have a very capable running game. They still have a quarterback with the ability to win games in spectacular fashion. They still have a pair of receivers in Steve Smith and Hakeem Nicks who may rank amongst the best duos in the NFL. They still have everything, including that one fatal flaw.

They also have the backing of a fan base excited by the potential to open the first season at a new stadium with a Super Bowl run. At the same time, they have a demanding fan base expecting a Super Bowl run after seven weeks of the NFL season.


I look forward to watching Falcons play the Giants at the Georgia Dome for the NFC Championship. I feel bad for the Falcons though, since quarterback experience matters in these games, and Manning already has a Super Bowl ring to guide him.

Preseason NFL Tickets Trick or Treat

Is it too early to use Halloween sayings in September? Well, five pound bags of candy imaginable have been out on the shelves since August so I guess not, especially when that simple turn of phrase so perfectly embodies the NFL preseason. Should fans expect what transpires on the field in the four-game preseason to become any sort of a reality during the long 16-game regular season? Is this a trick or a treat? What are we supposed to expect from these preseason trends?

Trick or Treat: The NFL East

After three weeks of preseason games every team is 1-2. Has the division fallen from the mantle of excellence after just two seasons of being adored?

The answer is simple, of course not, this is a trick. The New York Giants still possess one of the most dangerous front four on the defensive side of the ball and two of the three dreaded running backs (Brandon Jacobs and Ahmed Bradshaw) from last season’s top-rated running game still reside in the backfield. Top rated running backs are hard to find, but quality backups are perhaps the easiest thing to stock up on for the offense.

The Philadelphia Eagles still have one of the most talented rosters in football. Adding Michael Vick may be a distraction at first, but this team has an unquestioned leader in Donovan McNabb on the field and in Andy Reid. Vick will only be a powerful weapon that will confound opposing defensive coordinators that have to come up with answers just incase Vick even approaches the sideline.

The Redskins are still a dangerous team with a dangerous defense. The naysayers will cry out to the heavens that defensive tackles do not travel well. That there have been few defensive tackles that have switched teams and kept up the level of production.

The Cowboys will still dangerous, even without Terrell Owens dropping every pass that does not end with him doing an end zone dance. Romo and the ‘Boys may disappoint in the end, but they will throw some punches early in the season and scare the two frontrunners.

Trick or Treat: The NFC North

After three weeks of preseason football two teams are 3-0 and two teams are 2-1. This is not a trick. This is going to be a treat of a division to watch. The Vikings are better off with Favre than Sage Rosenfels and Tavaris Jackson under center. The defense that was so disappointing last season should find that pass rush they thought they had last season with Jared Allen at the right defensive end and the Williams tackles (once they return from their four game suspension to begin the season).

The Packers had a young defense that was somehow inspired by the play of Brett Favre two years ago. Well, Favre should serve as motivation of a different kind as that defense finds its way again and the offense continues to play surprisingly well with Aaron Rodgers leading the way.

The Chicago Bears already look like they are much more dangerous on offense with just a few halves with Jay Cutler as their starting quarterback. They might even post NFL worthy passing numbers and be able to convert on third and long instead of relying on a running back screen to position the punter for the optimal kick this season. The defense should have enough talent and athleticism left for at least one more decent season (even without safety Mike Brown).

The Lions are a trick here. They will be the punching bag for the rest of the division, giving each team at least two wins in division play.

Trick or Treat: The New Orleans Saints

The New Orleans Saints have pummeled the preseason competition, going 3-0, scoring 100 points, and only giving up 28. This is a nasty trick on the people of New Orleans. The Saints fans cannot help but their hopes up after last year’s disappointing season (8-8, last in the division after being favored to win the NFC South).

The trick is that the Saints have beaten up on Pee Wee football competition, beating the Cincinnati Bengals 17-7, the Houston Texans 38-14, and the Oakland Raiders 45-7. Combined these teams are 3-6 and the only team experts think may do something is the Houston Texans, but they are being portrayed as a dark horse candidate. The Saints are a good team with a prolific offense, but the defense is not that good. They will be competitive, but the playoffs are far from a guarantee once they start playing the rest of the teams in their division.

Trick or Treat: The San Francisco 49ers

The 49ers finished the 2009 football season winning five of the last seven games and have won all three preseason games so far. The problem is that they beat the Denver Broncos and the Oakland Raiders by a mere one point each. These are not going to be good teams once the season begins.

Coach Mike Singletary may have done an incredible job last season, but the NFL is littered with stories of coaches who were unable to turn great records after being named coach halfway through the season into continued success. The offense is still looking like it is lacking a quarterback with Shaun Hill managing to out dual Alex Smith so far. Add an unsigned first round draft pick and things are not looking good. This is a trick, but I do not think it will surprise anyone.

Trick or Treat: The Miami Dolphins

The Dolphins are 3-0 and are averaging a mere 16 and change in the preseason. Still, this team is for real. They made the playoffs last season in a deep AFC East and ushered in the year of the Wildcat. While the Wildcat will likely not be nearly as effective as last season and with Chad Pennington still having a noodle arm with really one option (Ted Ginn, Jr.) to throw to, this team still has a punishing defense and an edict to prove that they have a right to compete in the East, Tom Brady or no Tom Brady.

Trick or Treat: The San Diego Chargers

The San Diego Chargers are 1-2 and trailing the Oakland Raiders in the preseason standings in the AFC West. This is all a trick though. The Chargers are going to win the division simply because the competition is about to lose their starting quarterback and go back to square one (Kansas City Chiefs), really just a parade of headcases in pads (Oakland Raiders), or alienated a franchise quarterback in preference of a system (Denver Broncos).

San Diego is still a threat in the playoffs because a) they might end up playing the Indianapolis Colts again (they have their number in the postseason) and b) they still have an amazing collection of stars. Phillip Rivers is still a superb quarterback, LaDainian Tomlinson is still an effective running back, Antonio Gates is still a mad scientist’s creation at tight end, and Shawn Merriman is still a beast at middle linebacker. The talent is all there and if the team remains healthy they should have an easy road to a first round bye.

NFL Tickets

New Fall TV Lineups Announced

 The fall TV schedules are starting to surface and there are some old favorites that will be missing plus several many shows with some of your old favorite celebrities resurfacing. Over at ABC, Christina Applegate and her show “Samantha Who” will not be returning, along with “According to Jim”, “The Unusuals” and big surprise “Cupid”. Coming back to TV are Kelsey Grammar, new mom Rebecca Romijn, Patricia Heaton, and one of my favorites, Courtney Cox. ABC tops the new show charts with 11 new shows, 4 of which are comedies and 6 will be dramas and only 1 will be a reality show from by Mark Burnett. The show is called “Shark Tank” and will have people trying to get millionaires to choose their ideas to fund. Cox will be playing a cougar in her new comedy “Cougar Town”, where she will be back in the dating world as a single mother. Patricia Heaton will also be in a comedy called “The Middle” where she will be living in Indiana as an average middle class family…I can feel the laughs already. “Eastwick” is one of the new dramas starring Rebecca Romijn, Lindsay Price and Jamie Ray Newman who are women with unique powers that are brought together by a man who helps them realize those powers. And remember, “V” the miniseries back from the 80’s (I do), this is being remade and updated. “V” stands for visitors so it will be sci-fi and stars Elizabeth Mitchell from “Lost” who should feel right at home in that series.

 CBS will be staring the new season with 4 dramas, 1 new comedy and thankfully just 1 new reality show. Some favorite celebrities joining CBS will be Julianne Margulies, LL Cool J, Chris O’Donnell, and Jenna Elfman (remember her from “Dharma and Greg”?). Margulies will be staring in “The Good Wife” where she plays a wife of a politician who also works as a defense attorney. “Three Rivers” will be CBS’s medical drama which will focus on organ transplants and “Miami Trauma” their other medical show which follows trauma surgeons working in you guessed it Miami. Chris O’Donnell and LL cool J will be teamed together in an “NCIS” spin off and Jenna Elfman will star in the comedy “Accidentally on Purpose” where her one night stand with a man much younger then herself, gets her pregnant.

 NBC will add 4 new dramas to their lineup with two of those being medical related. They will be trying to hold on to their ER audience that is for sure. They are bringing back Peter Berg, Michelle Trachtenberg, Maura Tierney, Craig T. Nelson (remember him from “Coach” – that seems like ages ago),Dax  Shepard, Bonnie Bedelia, Monica Potter. Plus one of my favorites from the E! Network, Joel McHale, from “The Soup”, will be testing his acting abilities in none other than a comedy of course called “Community” which is about a group of college misfits. McHale will star along with Chevy Chase. Ron Howard and Brian Grazer will be teaming up for their new show “Parenthood”, based on the movie “Parenthood. It will be about parenting and hopefully with these two funny guys at the helm this show will be hilarious. “Trauma” one of the medical shows will follow a group of paramedics in San Francisco while “Mercy” will be hospital based but the difference with this hospital show is that it will be through the eyes of the nurses. And then of course Jay Leno will be taking up a big chunk of prime time programming with his new talk show time slot every night at 10:00 (ET/PT). Shows that were renewed were “30 Rock”, “The Office”, “Celebrity Apprentice”, Law and Order: Special Victims Units “, “Friday Night Lights”, “Medium”, “Heroes” along with the new comers “Parks and Recreation”, and “Southland”. Bummer I guess “Lipstick Jungle” really isn’t coming back. I am still bitter about that one.

Fox is adding 3 new shows. One is actually an animated show from the producers of “Family Guy” which is called “”The Cleveland Show”. Another new once is called “Glee” and “Brothers” about an NFL player who returns home to his family only to realize how much he has changed while he has been away. That will star Michael Strahan who used to play for the Giants. Fox will also have a few news shows come mid season, called “Son of Tucson” and “Human Target”. And new mom, Wanda Sykes will have her own one hour comedy show on Saturday nights, so that should be a funny one. “So You Think You Can Dance” received good news when it found out that it was moving off the summer schedule and being bumped up to the prime time fall schedule. Although “Terminator” will not be back, “Dollhouse”, “Bones”, “Cops”, “Family Guy”, “America’s Most Wanted”, “Kitchen Nightmares”, ”Hell’s Kitchen””Lie TO Me”, ”Til Death”, “The Simpsons” “American Idol”,  “Fringe”, and  “24” will all be back.
Those are just some of the highlights you can expect to look forward to after a long showless summer season.