"A Look at the Cowboys and Saints" by SportsBlog | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

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A Look at the Cowboys and Saints

Cowboys

http://www.espn.com/nfl/story/_/id/18043315/dallas-cowboys-owner-jerry-jones-says-tony-romo-back-dak-prescott-next-week">It’s official now. Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo is fully healthy, and he won’t be starting this weekend at home against the Baltimore Ravens. Instead, http://www.espn.com/nfl/story/_/id/18058661/tony-romo-dallas-cowboys-says-accepts-backup-role-wants-play">he will be backing up new starter Dak Prescott. Dallas has ridden rookies Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott to the http://www.espn.com/nfl/standings">NFL’s best record.

The 8-1 Cowboys haven’t lost since their 20-19 defeat against the New York Giants in the opening game of the season. Prescott didn’t have the full faith of the coaches early in that first game, and it showed in the play calling.

The former Mississippi State University star started his winning streak the next week with a 27-23 victory over the Washington Redskins. http://www.espn.com/nfl/story/_/page/HotRead161115/inside-anointing-dak-prescott-next-tony-romo-dallas-cowboys">Flash-forward, and Prescott has won eight of his nine career starts, tying http://www.star-telegram.com/sports/nfl/dallas-cowboys/cowboys-corner-blog/article114591123.html">Johnny Lujack of the 1948 Chicago Bears.

He also tied http://www.star-telegram.com/sports/nfl/dallas-cowboys/cowboys-corner-blog/article114591123.html">Kyle Orton for second on the list for most consecutive wins by a rookie quarterback in a single season. Prescott only trails http://www.star-telegram.com/sports/nfl/dallas-cowboys/cowboys-corner-blog/article114591123.html">Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who had 13 consecutive wins at the start of his career.

It is easy to feel bad for Romo since he lost his starting job due to injury, but Romo himself got the Cowboys http://www.star-telegram.com/sports/spt-columns-blogs/mac-engel/article114768843.html">starting job after a benching of Drew Bledsoe.

Interestingly, http://www.nfl.com/news/story/0ap3000000707463/article/tom-brady-drew-bledsoe-reflect-on-pivotal-hit-15-years-later">Bledsoe earlier got injured with the New England Patriots, which opened the door for Tom Brady to take over and begin his Hall of Fame career in 2001.

It seems fitting to mention those two players at this point, as Prescott is playing the role of Brady, and Romo is playing the role of Bledsoe. That 2001 Patriots season ended with a victory in Super Bowl XXXVI to the St. Louis Rams, who are now in Los Angeles. New England needed Bledsoe during that run to a title, and the Cowboys might need Romo at some point this season.

This Cowboys season has a good deal of historical similarities.

This Dallas team is a lot like the Super Bowl winning teams of the 1990s. Those teams featured “The Triplets”—quarterback Troy Aikman, running back Emmitt Smith and wide receiver Michael Irvin—as a young core of offensive playmakers.

This year, the Cowboys have quarterback Prescott, running back Elliott and wide receiver Dez Bryant. Those 1990s Cowboys teams featured a dominant offensive line, and this year’s team has a dominant offensive line.

Dallas hasn’t won eight straight games in a season, http://www.star-telegram.com/sports/nfl/dallas-cowboys/cowboys-corner-blog/article114591123.html">the franchise record, since 1977. And for anyone wondering, that http://www.pro-football-reference.com/years/1977/">1977 season ended with the Cowboys winning the Super Bowl.

Saints

Heartbreaking might not be the best word to describe the New Orleans Saints’ loss this past Sunday, Nov. 13, to the Denver Broncos, but it certainly fits. While the loss hurts, there are a lot of good things to take from it.

New Orleans went to toe-to-toe with the defending Super Bowl champion Broncos. The Saints http://www.espn.com/nfl/matchup?gameId=400874586">lost the turnover battle four to two, and Denver still needed to block an extra point and return it for two-points to win the game.

This season, New Orleans has beaten two of the last six participants in the last three Super Bowls, the Carolina Panthers and the Seattle Seahawks. The Saints almost beat the Broncos to bring their total to four of the last teams to play in the big game.

The defense is improving each week, and the offense will be great as long as it doesn’t turn the ball over four times in every game. If New Orleans wins against the Carolina Panthers on this week’s Thursday Night Football, it wouldn’t be out of the question to make the playoffs.

http://www.espn.com/nfl/team/_/name/no/new-orleans-saints">New Orleans is tied with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for second in the NFC South at 4-5. The Atlanta Falcons are in first place at 6-4 and within reach if the Saints can go on a win streak.

The teams left on the Saints http://www.espn.com/nfl/standings">schedule have a combined record of 30-33, with just the Falcons and the Detroit Lions remaining with a winning record. It doesn’t sound crazy to think New Orleans can win the rest of their games with the L.A. Rams, the Buccaneers (twice), the Panthers and the Arizona Cardinals being at or below .500.

If New Orleans wins out, the Saints will be 11-5, and it would seem a given that they will make the playoffs. Even if they lose two games, they would be 9-7 and in the hunt for a playoff spot, depending on what the rest of the league did during the final week.

The main point is that if this Saints team can turn the corner, winning the NFC South and making the playoffs is within the realm of possibility.

New Orleans just gave Denver all they wanted and should have beaten them. The Saints should shrug off that loss and realize that being a playoff team is still possible this season, even with all the injuries that plagued them during the preseason and early regular season.

All New Orleans has do is finish strong.

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