Sports Outside the Beltway

T.O. Dallas Cowboys MVP?

Tim Cowlishaw contends that Terrell Owens, not quarterback Tony Romo, is the reason the Dallas Cowboys are the best team in the NFC.

It’s not Tony Romo, because what separates Romo from Brett Favre? He leads the NFC’s other 8-1 team that is trying to lock down home-field advantage for the playoffs. Romo, who has three more NFL starts than his Green Bay idol has years as an NFL starter, owns a slightly better passer rating. Favre has thrown for a few more yards. But you can’t say you like the Cowboys better than the Packers because of the quarterback position, even if Romo has youth on his side. Romo’s motivation to get to his first Super Bowl cannot be any stronger than Favre’s desire to get to his last one.

And you’re not going to pick Dallas’ advantage in the running game as the reason you like the Cowboys better, either. The Cowboys’ backs have better numbers for the year. But Marion Barber’s last two games have not been his best. Meanwhile, Green Bay appears to have found something in Ryan Grant. In three starts against Denver, Kansas City and Minnesota, Grant has 66 carries for 278 yards. His 119 Sunday against Minnesota, one of the league’s best run-stuffing teams, signaled the arrival of a new back on the block.

As for defense, there’s no need even to break it down. Green Bay has allowed 53 fewer points this year than the Cowboys. Even if things have settled down in the secondary with the return of Anthony Henry, you can’t give the Cowboys a defensive edge on the Packers.

Owens is where you find the Cowboys’ big advantage on the Packers. Favre spreads the ball around to a number of receivers. Even though Favre has passed for the most yards in the NFL, his go-to guy, Donald Driver, isn’t in the top 20 in receiving yards. Owens is posting staggering numbers now – 50 catches for 855 yards and eight touchdowns. He has more 20-yard plays than New England’s Randy Moss. You see less of Owens fighting the ball with his hands this year.

It’s an interesting argument. There’s not much doubt that T.O. is the best player on the Cowboys. The running game is inconsistent, although Marion Barber III has shown flashes of brilliance. And the vaunted defense, with its oodles of first day draft picks, is in the bottom third in the league in points given up.

Still, I’d have to cast my lot with Romo as the team MVP. He’s the undisputed leader and inspiration on offense. He’s saved a lot of plays with his legs and sheer determination. And, while T.O. has done an outstanding job of getting open and getting yards after the catch, it’s still Romo that’s threading the ball to him through double coverage.

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