As the new season arrives each year, we as fans are inundated with previews and predictions from every and any sports magazine that is imaginable. When I was younger I would be waiting for them like I would wait for Santa Claus on Christmas. These days, with the internet and ESPNEWS and the overall coverage of pro football, I am usually nauseated by this experts predictions and that pundits crystal ball halfway through training camp. At the end of the day, who picked the Giants to win the Super Bowl last year? Not many, if anyone. That being said, there is one preview that I look forward to reading and that is Sports Illustrated’s NFL PREVIEW. For those of you in the same boat, be warned: do not read this if you want to read about it in the magazine for yourself. This year’s issue, with Tony Romo on the cover, does not seem to find the Cowboys in as favorable as light as some of us fans might expect.
For starters, let’s look at The King 50. This is the top 50 players regardless of position ranked by veteran SI writer Peter King. The Cowboys ranked 4 players among the top 50. The top ranked Cowboy is DeMarcus Ware (#15), ranked one spot ahead of Shawn Merriman, who was drafted by the Chargers ahead of Ware. D-Ware is the top ranked Linebacker and 4th highest ranked defensive player overall. This seems very accurate and fair, but then it get’s ugly for the Cowboys. Next for the Cowboys is Romo (#19), but he is the sixth ranked Quarterback behind Tom Brady (#1), Peyton Manning (#2), Drew Brees (#6), Carson Palmer (#7) and Ben Roethlisberger (#18). To me, this is a joke. I think Romo should be ranked higher overall, as well as ahead of Brees, Palmer and Big Ben. I would put him somewhere at #10, as the third ranked QB. Then you have to go all the way towards the bottom of the list to find the final 2 Cowboys. Jason Witten (#41) is ranked behind players such as Aaron Kampman (#32), Phillip Rivers (#31) and tight end Antonio Gates (#35). That is a joke. But you want funny? Just look at the hate that Terrell Owens is getting! T.O. (#43) is ranked behind receivers Randy Moss (#4), Larry Fitzgerald (#33), Reggie Wayne (#36), Braylon Edwards (#39) and yes, get this…..Wes Welker (#40)! We all know T.O. though, fuel to his fire. He probably already has the list posted in his locker!
Then we get to the magazine’s predictions. Following a 13-3 season and a division title as well as all of our starters returning, you would think it would be an easy selection to pick the Cowboys to defend the division crown, but instead SI has us finishing 10-6, and second to….the EAGLES! I about threw the magazine away at this point. And to add insult to injury they forecast us losing to the Eagles in the 2nd round of the playoffs, as Philadelphia advances to the NFC Championship and then to the Superbowl, where they are predicted to lose to the Patriots.
There is also a feature story about the Cowboys offensive line and the meltdown in the the 4th quarter of the playoff loss to the giants, as well as the team preview which includes a small story, with absoloutely no breaking news, about Pac Man.
One small highlight is Felix Jones ranked as the #3 player with breakout potential and says he enters the NFL as “one of the best cutback runners in the game.”
So, overall, it is not a very good read for Cowboys fans, but at least something to get fired up about. The preseason is over, and now it is time to go defend our division title and get that playoff win that we have been searching for, and when we do, I am going to be reading a new Sports Illustrated talking about how great we are, and that is when we will get the last laugh!