I watched Seattle dismantle Denver last night and I thought, "This is a definite shift in the NFL power structure."
For the last few years there have been a lot of teams with weak defenses carried by great offenses get to the Superbowl. Green Bay got there and won behind the best QB in the NFL, Aaron Rodgers. So did New Orleans behind Drew Brees. The Colts won a Superbowl with Peyton Manning.
It was after Green Bay won the Superbowl that Jerry Jones started publicly voicing the philosophy that "...If we can just reach the playoffs, we have a shot at winning the superbowl!" For the last few years that may have been true.
Dallas isn't far from being a peer to San Diego, Philadelphia, Green Bay or even Denver, even if Tony Romo falls short in comparison to those QBs.* Dallas as home playing well and somewhat healthy almost beat Denver this year. But what about the playoff teams that play defense?
(* On the radio in Dallas a few minutes ago, a sports host asked his partner, "If Seattle had Romo instead of Russell Wilson, would Seattle have won the superbowl?" His partner answered that anyone could have lead Seattle to victory over the Broncos last night, but that he thought Romo would have made an ill-advised pass late against San Francisco to give the game away. I am generally favorable towards Romo, but that was my thought as well. It is certainly interesting to think that the argument that "If you just give Romo a defense, he will win a title" may not be true. Dallas needs to improve on both ends of the field to have a shot.)
Seattle destroyed Dallas the last time they played, physically manhandling them on both sides of the ball. San Francisco is arguably just as good. Carolina, a team on the come, is similar if a slight notch below. Arizona is starting to develop a similar team. Even New Orleans, which I would put in the Denver category, can at least scheme their defense to a point where Dallas just cannot compete.
That is a total of 5 teams that are just flat out easily better than Dallas. In the NFC. Directly in Dallas's way.
The days of a physically weak team with glaring holes just riding a hot QB to a Superbowl win appear gone for the rest of the Romo window. Jerry Jones just cannot afford to think that way. Dallas can't just assume they will have a shootout with NFC opponents.
Dallas has to develop a better line and a good and durable defense with a scheme that matches their talent or there is no way Romo will win the superbowl before he is done.
Yesterday was an eye-opener to me. Here's hoping it was to the Joneses as well.