Dallas Cowboys benefitting from parity in NFL

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Dallas Cowboys benefitting from parity in NFL

By Imaz Athar / Staff Writer

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The boys are back. The Dallas Cowboys, that is.

Tony Romo, DeMarco Murray and the Cowboys decimated the New Orleans Saints’ defense on Sunday night. Perfect passes, powerful rushes and strong protection carried the 3-1 Cowboys to a lopsided 38-17 victory in what was expected to be a close game.

In the past, the Cowboys have faltered on Sunday nights. Interceptions, fumbles and playoff-hope crushing losses against the Washington Redskins and New York Giants immediately come to mind when you think about the Cowboys on Sunday nights. But this past Sunday was completely different. There were no mistakes, and there were no threatening comebacks. Instead, the Cowboys played an almost perfect game.

Almost immediately after the game, sports media and fans began to wonder whether this will be the Cowboys’ year after three straight seasons with mediocre 8-8 finishes. Eric Adelson of Yahoo Sports expressed how this Cowboys season seemed like “more than just noise.” Jerry Jones even stated that the Cowboys’ performance during the first half of the game was the best he has seen since becoming the owner of the team in 1989.

Despite all of the frenzy around the Cowboys’ victories, I’m starting to question whether the fans and the media are overstating their success. The Cowboys are built on offensive firepower, but, in the past, they couldn’t sustain it. While the offense has carried the team to many victories, it has also failed them in humiliating losses that have prevented the team from making the playoffs. The stars on the Cowboys’ helmets can only shine for so long. So, how good have they been, really?

The three teams that the Cowboys have beaten — the Titans, the Rams and the Saints — have a combined record of 3-8. The Cowboys haven’t beaten the cream of the NFL crop by any stretch.

Also consider the parity in the NFL this season. Judging by the first four weeks of the season, there doesn’t seem to be a totally dominant team. The Seahawks, often considered the best team coming into this season, after blowing out the Broncos in last year’s Super Bowl, have already faltered during the regular season. Richard Sherman and the rest of the “Legion of Boom” secondary didn’t look so terrifying when the Chargers threw three passing touchdowns against them in the second week of the season.

The Chargers, a 3-1 team that beat the champion Seahawks, seem to be on the cusp of being a contender, but their rushing offense is the second-worst in the league. Other 3-1 teams like the Houston Texans and the Detroit Lions don’t seem like they can sustain their success much longer either. The chances that a mediocre quarterback like Ryan Fitzpatrick will lead a team deep into the playoffs are low, and the Lions’ pass-happy offense can only carry them for so long.

Once-dominant teams like the Saints and the Patriots look like they have almost completely lost their identities. The only undefeated teams, the Bengals and the Cardinals, also have glaring flaws. Although both teams have top-five defenses so far, neither has very consistent quarterback play.

The league is out-of-sorts this year, and it is difficult to definitively say that the Cowboys are a very good team when the rest of the league has been widely mediocre. 

But enough criticizing the Cowboys. Fans and media have done it enough for as long as I can remember.

So when I watched the Cowboys blow away the Saints on Sunday night, I thought it was awesome to see the team dominate during primetime. In past years, I agreed with a lot of the criticism of the Cowboys to the point where I rooted against them as a sports fan. This may sound blasphemous to fans who hate the Cowboys, but I want to see them play well under the bright lights like they did against the Saints. I want to see them win.

I know I’m not the only one who wants the Cowboys to win. Ultimately, a great Cowboys team is great for the sport of football. The Cowboys are the most popular team in the U.S. In fact, according to a 2013 Harris Poll, the Cowboys have been the most popular team in America for the past 16 years. In addition, despite their lack of success in recent years, the Cowboys have been one of the most-watched teams in the NFL. In 2012, four of the six most-watched NFL games were Cowboys games.

Now, imagine if the Cowboys were actually good. The NFL is already the most popular league in the USA, but if the Cowboys were consistently good, it’s certainly possible that the NFL will gain even more viewership domestically.

It’s possible that the NFL will also gain viewership worldwide if the Cowboys continue to play at a high level. Despite being the most popular sport in the United States, football isn’t nearly as popular worldwide as basketball and soccer are. Globally, the Cowboys are one of the most recognizable NFL teams. If international viewers see a team that they recognize playing well, then there’s a chance that they’ll continue watching. 

However, it all comes down to how the Cowboys perform and whether they can sustain their recent success. While Sunday night showed how great the Cowboys could be, only time will tell whether or not they can once again be America’s team.

So, are the boys back? It’s too early to tell. But I sure want them to be.

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