than Manning - but it says right here in the NFL stats he's the second-ranked quarterback with a 101.2 rating. No great divide, right? (Wink, wink.)
No Backseat: Been hearing all week how the Colts have the second-ranked offense in the league. Yeah, well, the Cowboys have the sixth-ranked offense. Know what the difference is? But 6.7 yards a game. That's nothing. And how about this: The Cowboys have the third-ranked defense. The Colts are 16th. So take that!
All Points Bulletin: Yeah, well those rankings might be about yards, but what about points? This Colts team scores beaucoup points, right? Not so fast there, buddy. The Colts have scored 249 points so far this season. Your Dallas Cowboys? Try 250. No kidding, look it up. They each average about 27.7 points a game. And defensively, not even close. The Colts have given up 189 points. The Cowboys, 174. So there.
Huge Spreads: Don't think just because the Colts have won nine consecutive games that they have been dominating this year. They win, no begrudging that. But of their nine victories, seven have been by no more than seven points. In fact, four have been by no more than three points. The only big wins have been over Houston, 43-24, and Washington, 36-22, and the Cowboys have done that. As for the Cowboys, well, would you believe all five victories have been by at least 17 points, as many 17-point victories in nine games as they've had in the past five seasons? Right on.
First Dowwwwnnnnn: This is rather incredible. The Colts convert a league-high 55.8 percent of their third downs into first downs. Man, a 45-percent rate is good. So getting them on a three-and-out is rare and just getting them to punt at some point would be a major accomplishment. But, guess who is second when it comes to third-down percentage? That's right, the Cowboys are, converting at a 49.2 rate. In fact, the Cowboys have converted 64 third-down opportunities into first downs while the Colts have 58 times. Go ahead.
Kick This: Hey, it's the Cowboys who have the NFL's all-time leading kicker now, not the Colts anymore. Yeah, yeah, the Colts have Mr. Clutch, Adam Vinatieri, who has made 17 of 19 field goals this year, and now has converted 82 percent of his career attempts. But the Colts no longer have Mike Vanderjagt, the NFL's all-time leading kicker. Nope, the ATLK is now property of the Cowboys, and so far he has made 12 of 15 attempts (one block and one-for-three hitting uprights), leaving his career percentage at 87 percent. No backseat here.
Dallas Tight Ends: Keep hearing all week about Dallas Clark this and Dallas Clark that, from the head coach and the players. Well Indy's Dallas has 24 catches for 303 yards and three touchdowns, not bad for a tight end. But Dallas' tight end, Jason Witten, has 36 catches for 425 yards and three touchdowns. See there.
Sir Shimmy: Colts got anyone who's ever won Dancing with the Stars? Huh . . . huh? Lenny Moore? Alan Ameche? Bert Jones? Johnny Unitas? Raymond Berry? John Mackey? That would be no. But the Cowboys do, Emmitt Smith dancing his way into American hearts over the past 10 weeks, the Cowboys and NFL all-time leading rusher, along with his classy partner Cheryl Burke, grabbing the shiny trophy Wednesday night. Yeah Colts, can't touch that either.
So yeah, the Colts have won four more games than the Cowboys. I know that, and that's certainly nothing to minimize, because winning is the name of the game in the NFL. They don't give you style points either way.
But the point is, there is no need for the Cowboys to shuffle their way into Texas Stadium Sunday in awe. There is no need for any aw-shucks humility in the face of Manning and the Colts and that 9-0 record. These numbers say there is some talent on this team, even if the 5-4 record would minimize such bold claims.
"The aura around the locker room this week and the aura around practice is, 'Let's go do what we do,'" Cowboys defensive end Marcus Spears said. "You can't look at any team in the NFL and start doubting your own ability, just because they're 9-0 or throw for all these yards.
"We just need to focus on what we do."
There are two news signs propped up for the players to see