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This Cowboys team is a mystery

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The Dallas Cowboys are about to partake in a playoff game. I should be jumping for joy, bouncing off the walls and screaming like a maniac. I admit I am starting to get that familiar feeling, the adrenaline and nervousness that come on game day. But there's a problem, I fear I'm setting myself up for another collapse.

I tell you what's disconcerting about this game - I have no idea which Dallas Cowboys team will show up. We've seen them be very good this year, that 5-1 stretch wasn't exactly chopped liver. But we've also seen them over the last month, even though we wish we hadn't. So which team will show up? I don't know, not even Carnac the Magnificent would know.

(Carnac holds the sealed envelope up to his turban)

CARNAC: The Dallas Cowboys, the Seattle Seahawks, and Christmas shopping.

ED McMAHON: The Dallas Cowboys, the Seattle Seahawks, and Christmas shopping.

(Carnac rips the envelope open and removes the card)

CARNAC (reading): Name three things that suck in December.

Thanks Carnac, but that doesn't really help me decide which Cowboys team will be on the field Saturday night. To figure this out, maybe I need to visit a more powerful mystical icon, like the Wizard of Oz. I'd walk right up to the great and powerful Oz and ask for three things, and I know he's got them because I saw it on T.V. For the offense, I would ask for a brain, because they need to be smart with the football come Saturday night. They can't be making dumb plays like turnovers, penalties, or just plain old mental mistakes. Nope, they need to use their brains.

For the defense, I would ask for a heart. Then someone on that side of the ball may actually start playing with some emotion. The defense has been beaten like a rented mule over the last month; it's time for someone to get angry. We need some Incredible Hulk-action going on in the game. And for the coaches, I would ask for some courage. Enough courage to try some things out of the ordinary - especially on defense - and not be afraid of failing. This team can't sleepwalk through another game, and it can't keep playing the way it has when the other teams can tell you the exact coverage schemes and easily recognize the undisguised blitzes.

Brains, heart and courage are a formidable combination, if only the great and powerful Oz will bestow them on us.

As much as we complain about the state of the Cowboys right now, they do get another chance to make things right. In 20 different cities right now they're firing coaches, players are packing up and some don't know if they'll be back, the fans in those cities are already checking the potential free-agent and draft rosters. We've gotten a one-week reprieve from that chaos. We've got one game to wipe away all the ambivalence of a season lost, but not yet totally lost. Win this week, and you're on top once again. They'll sing the praises of a team going on the road and winning with an inexperienced QB in the playoffs. They'll say the Cowboys might be that team we saw in mid-season again. They might even call us contenders.