Last week I had a conversation with a friend at the cinema, while waiting for our movie to start. We were discussing religion, all aspects of it. We discussed belief, faith, morality, organized religion, Islam, Christianity, the whole lot. About ten minutes into the conversation, I learned that my friend was an Atheist. I was troubled, not because he was an Atheist, but because of his incredibly strong conviction to believing that there was no God. So I had to ask the bone-crunching, teeth-grinding, magical question, “How is it that you are so convinced that there is no God? Why do you find it so ridiculous to believe?” As expected, I received the whole “There is no evidence, therefore I shall not believe” spiel. Before I could reply, the movie started and the conversation died.
What my friend failed to understand is that religion is not based on evidence. Religion is premised on faith. It operates outside the need to have evidence. This begs the question; what exactly, is faith? Faith is having trust or confidence in someone or something. It is the belief that something will happen, or that someone will pull through. It is based on understanding, on belief, without the need for proof and evidence.
Sports fanaticism is often compared to a rollercoaster ride. You have ups and you have downs, often in the same season, sometimes in the same game. Living a life of a Dallas Cowboys fan, I couldn’t agree more (although there have been more downs than ups lately). Year after year, season after season, high hopes and optimistic predictions are met with disappointment and shame. The Dallas Cowboys are a group of well-paid professional athletes, with some of the best training equipment and coaching that professional football has to offer. The Dallas Cowboys have the most glamorous stadium in which to play football; Cowboys Stadium. They have the largest fan base in professional American Football, and a glorious legacy of past dynasties. They are also a bunch of underachieving shits.
We’ve all seen Tony Romo deliver the goods (congratulations on your firstborn Tony), and we’ve all seen him choke under pressure. Every season it seems the Cowboys are poised to strike and take over a difficult division, and while the fans are eyeing a deep playoff run, the team finds a way to lose out on the playoffs quicker than I can say “Jerral Wayne Jones”. The pain and sorrow associated with this repeating chain of events is similar to giving birth to a hundred children simultaneously, through your anus. Still, I keep coming back for more. Why? Because I believe Tony Romo will finally win a Super Bowl and silence all critics. Because I believe the Dallas Cowboys have a sixth title coming, real soon. Because Texas is where real football is played. Because I bleed blue and silver. Because I have faith.
Yeah I did it. And what? Let’s be clear on one thing though, faith is not rational. Rationality relies on proof, it relies on evidence. It calculates the probability of things not proved and weighs it against empirical knowledge we attain through investigation. There is not enough evidence to prove to the point of certainty that God exists, and that Jesus died for your sins. Neither is there any evidence that God does not exist. In the same way, there is no evidence, no statistic or piece of information that would indicate that the Dallas Cowboys will have any success in the upcoming season. But still I believe, still I come back for more. That is the true beauty of sports.
The schedule for the 2012 NFL Regular Season has been officially released. Let’s take this opportunity to analyse the Dallas Cowboys schedule, preview the regular season, and decide whether it hurts or helps their chances:
- WEEK 1 at NY 8.30PM:
Epic Wednesday Night opener against the New York Giants on 5th September. This game is going to mean a lot. Not only is it a big emotionally charged game against the reigning Super Bowl Champions, who beat the Cowboys twice last year in the regular season, but the Giants are the only division rival the Cowboys play until Week 10 at Philadelphia. It is also going to be important for morale. The Giants have a habit of slumping after a Super Bowl season, so here’s the ‘Boys’ first chance to show the world what they’re made of.
- WEEK 2 at Seattle 4.05PM:
With Matt Flynn, I personally believe the Seahawks are twice as good as they were last year. Tarvaris Jackson is your man Pete? Really? The Cowboys will have to work for a 2-0 start. An 0-2 start here would be disastrous.
- WEEK 3 vs. Tampa Bay 1.00PM:
Tampa were trash last year, and the ‘yungries’ aren’t going to magically become a contender. Sure they signed Vincent Jackson, but one quality receiver doth not make a non-contender a contender. They have too many other issues. Bar catastrophic event/injury, Cowboys should please fans at home.
- WEEK 4 vs. Chicago 8.30PM:
Big game. BIG. GAME. Monday Night Football against a truly lethal team that I believe has been underrated for the last few seasons. And now Brandon Marshall is being reunited with Jay Cutler. It’s a good thing Dallas is hosting this game, because they wouldn’t stand a chance at Soldier Field. If all things go our way, the Cowboys will probably see the Bears again in the playoffs. Deep.
- WEEK 5 Bye:
You know what to do.
- WEEK 6 at Baltimore 1.00PM:
Joe Flacco is the best quarterback in the NFL apparently. The travelling is watered down by the BYE week, minimal impact hopefully. This also means we can prepare for the Ravens that much more. Personally, the Ravens are overrated. Much respect to Ray Lewis and Ed Reed, but that team is just simply not that good at anything. The Cowboys should take this one. If they don’t, I won’t hear the end of it.
- WEEK 7 at Carolina 1.00PM:
Cam Newton makes the playoffs this year. That’s right I said it.
- WEEK 8 vs. NY 4.15PM:
SO DEM GIANTS, GONNA COME TO OUR HOUSE. THINKIN’ THEY CAN WALK ALL OVA US. WHO DEY THINK THEY IS HUH. LETS SHOWEM SOME COWBOYS FOOTBALL YO. WE GON’ BEAT ELI’S GOOFY LOOKIN ASS OUTTA TEXAS.
- WEEK 9 at Atlanta 8.20PM:
Sunday Night Football playing trash. Matt Ryan has taken a step back, and Tony Gonzalez is getting old and clearly losing his step. The front office invested too much in Julio Jones, and the defense is average still. Cowboys Football baby.
- WEEK 10 at Philadelphia 4.15PM:
Would not be surprised if the Cowboys lose this one. Not saying that I wouldn’t be dreadfully upset and go shoot some hobos, but I would not be surprised. Philly looks tough this year, not the same way they *looked* tough last year. They got their act together defensively, and the offense is as scary as ever. LeSean McCoy is simply one of the top 5 running backs in the game currently. We’d have a good shot at this game is Vick was out with injury as a result of running recklessly in WEEK 9. But no, I’m not wishing injury on a player.
- WEEK 11 vs. Cleveland 1PM:
Trash at home. Poo is brown and the Browns are poo. Easy win.
- WEEK 12 vs. Washington 4.15PM:
Thanksgiving football, versus the division rival Washington Redskins. Oh, it’s also the first time they play each other. Oh, and Robert Griffin III is scary. He may be a rookie, but as much as the experts like to say he’s not ‘pro ready’, he’s an athletic quarterback whose decisions are hard to predict. Key player: Sean Lee. RGIII would have had 11 weeks in the National Football League Regular Season at this point. I would not count the ‘Skins out here. If the Cowboys do end up disappointing on Thanksgiving, I will shed a single tear that will roll gently down my cheek.
- WEEK 13 vs. Philadelphia 8.20PM:
See WEEK 10. Except they’re at home this time. Sunday Night Football baby, let’s show the world some blue and silver!
- WEEK 14 at Cincinnati 1.00PM:
Playing a sneaky-tough team on the road. The Bengals get overshadowed by the success of the Ravens and the Steelers in the AFC North. They’re an underrated team. Also, we get to say hi to long-serving ex-Cowboy Terrence Newman. I’m willing to bet my dog that Newman will be dealing with some lingering injury at this point.
- WEEK 15 vs. Pittsburgh 4.15PM:
Self-explanatory. Pittsburgh Steelers. Never an easy game. Thank Texas we have this game at home. The last couple of seasons, analysts have been commenting on the average age of Steelers, saying they’re old and slowly losing their step. Every season, the Steelers prove them wrong. I wish my ‘Boys luck, because this is the start of an extremely difficult stretch.
- WEEK 16 vs. New Orleans 1.00PM:
Did I say it was a difficult stretch? Yeah. Every time I think about the Saints, I think about the 2009 regular season game when the Cowboys stopped an undefeated season. The Saints went on to win the Super Bowl that year, but still. This time the Cowboys won’t have Roy Williams dropping the ball on the dagger drive.
- WEEK 17 at Washington 1.00PM:
Unreal. What are the odds that the season will be determined by this game? I wouldn’t bet against it. I’m thinking another win and in scenario, except this time the Cowboys can pull through. It won’t be easy.
A few things that immediately stick out to me:
- Six of the first nine games are on the road. This will be particularly taxing on the players. For the second season in a row, they open with two consecutive road games, this season travelling all the way from New York to Seattle. Jesus Christ. The 10 day period between Weeks 1 and 2 is helpful though. And the BYE in Week 5 will also ease the road burden.
- On the flipside, five of the last seven games are at home. In previous years, we have seen the Cowboys start off well and fade in December. Having a large stretch of home games towards the end of the regular season is definitely a good thing. Here’s hoping the Cowboys can stay in contention until then, and when the Home stretch presents itself, close in on the division title.
The Cowboys have tough opponents this season. AFC North’s Ravens, Steelers, and Bengals, and NFC South’s Saints, Falcons, and Panthers. Notice how I excluded the Browns and the Bucs? Yeah, they’re trash.
As always, the NFC East is a particularly strong division. The Eagles seem to have gotten their act together late last season. The Giants just won the Super Bowl. The Redskins are about to draft a quality quarterback (arguably the one thing that was missing from that team last year). Here we go Cowboys, let’s show ‘em some blue and silver!
As soon as the regular schedule was released, blogs, writers, fans, all began to predict the season win/loss records. Predictions ranged from the pessimist 4-12, to the realist 8-8, to the fanatical 16-0. Me? I don’t do predictions, at least not at this stage. We still have the draft, more changes to the roster, perhaps some coaching changes, and the pre-season to get through before any real calling can take place. And so, I leave you to think on the season ahead, as I refrain from calling the season record.
12-4. PEACE OUT A-TOWN (A for Auckland).