The Dallas Cowboys are a loathsome franchise. Their mammoth scoreboards are worth more than the GDPs of several sovereign nations. Their owner, all plucked eyebrows, Cialis, and megalomania, is an immortal oil magnate douche, rubbing his fully realized American Dream in our faces with the aid of a 24/7 sports news cycle, as he plots and schemes and hires ginger coaches and builds palacial stadiums, all in desperate pursuit of the glory hole which somehow still eludes him:
There is no denying the Cowboys’ all-encompassing evil. That star on their helmet might as well be a swastika.
I still remember cheering wildly as Don Beebe knocked the ball out of Leon Lett’s hands for a touchback in Super Bowl XXVII, preventing the Cowboys from setting the all-time Super Bowl scoring record, and thereby granting a wistful, foolish child dumb enough to still root for the underdog the most hollow of fleeting victories. The Cowboys triumphed over the bridesmaid Bills 52-17, won the rematch the following year in Super Bowl XXVIII, and then registered a 3rd Super Bowl win in the Jerry Jones era in Super Bowl XXX.
But ever since conquering the mighty Neil O’Donnell, “America’s Team” has stumbled into a vortex of perpetual mediocrity. The ‘Boys only have one playoff win since 1996, despite season after season of sky-high, delusional expectations. Their quarterback, Tony Romo, is an erratic wunderkind, straddling the Will They-or-Won’t-They, Ross-and-Rachel line each week, constantly toggling between gutsy, proficient playmaker and bumbling nightmare.
Sound familiar? Jay Cutler, master of the sub-50 quarterback rating games in prime-time, is oft-compared to Romo, and for good reason. Cutler and Romo are Care Bear cousins of alternating brilliance and ineptitude.
Both have tremendous weapons to dominate with, or squander: Brandon Marshall, Matt Forte, Alshon Jeffery, Dez Bryant, Demarco Murrary, and Miles Austin. No excuses.
Both quarterbacks have dated celebrities, as well, but Cutler closed the deal. He produced a child with one. Advantage: Cutler.
More importantly, Cutler has an NFC title game appearance under his belt, and seemed destined for a second before his thumb injury last year, which ended his season and spiraled millions of rabid Bears fans into a dark depression and tainted the holiday season with the haunting promise of what might have been. It’s tough to be filled with those warm, fuzzy Christmas morning feelings when all that lies under your tree is Caleb Hanie, the action figure that nobody wanted. Worst Christmas ever!
The Bears rebounded from their stillbirth Packers game to defeat the Rams 23-6 in Week 3, holding St. Louis without a touchdown for the 3rd consecutive time. However, they dispatched of the Rams by relying on an opportunistic defense, pounding and intercepting Sam Bradford, as the offense continued to struggle.
Bears fans are still waiting for the hypothetical offensive juggernaut to assert itself on a consistent basis. To accomplish this, the Bears will need Forte, who is questionable for this game with a lingering ankle injury, to return at full strength, and the offensive line to perfect its chemistry, or at least avoid outright awfulness, and keep Cutler off his back. In a game that may hinge on which quarterback screws up the least, it will be absolutely critical to keep Cutler upright, and not staring up at a replay of his sack-fumble or pick-six after he’s been plastered into the Cowboys Stadium turf for the 11th time.
For all the emphasis on these two polarizing quarterbacks, this Monday Night Football showdown extends far beyond the extension of their Hero/Villain mythology. This game will draw a definitive line in the sand between two franchises and fan bases with Super Bowl dreams. With the Bears and Cowboys both hovering tentatively at 2-1 and hoping to keep pace in their divisions with the 3-1 paper tiger Minnesota Vikings and the 3-1 Philadelphia Eagles, respectively, each team may look back on tonight’s result as a destiny-maker.
With the Bears approaching four extremely winnable games (at Jacksonville, home to Detroit and Carolina, and at Tennessee), after their war with the Cowboys, stealing a win on the road, and warping Jerry Jones’ face into a wretched scowl that not even his unrelenting Botox-ing could conceal, would be a pinnacle achievement for a team looking to cement a lasting identity. Looking for America’s real team? It will be decided on the field tonight.
“On the Road to Victory”:
- Limited Sacks Allowed to 3 sacks or less
- Pressure, pressure, pressure. Romo will blow the game if we give him enough opportunities.
- Alshon Jeffery. Just as Kevin Ogletree exploited the Giants’ banged-up secondary as a third option in Week 1 with 2 touchdowns, the Bears need to work in a heavy dose of Alshon Jeffery as their #2 option in the first half, to take the focus off Brandon Marshall. This, in turn, will help Marshall deliver the monster game I believe he is capable of tonight.
Zeoli’s Alcohol Consumption/ Enthusiasm Rating: 4 rail whiskey-and-Mr. Pibbs, 2 beers, 1 victory shot drunkenly requested to resemble a glass of oil and/or blood pumped from Jerry Jones’ cold black heart, and 3 Cialis tablets pilfered from Jerry Jones’ medicine cabinet. Get You Some!
Prediction: BEARS – 24, Jerry Jones’ Vanity Project – 20