Cowboys will expose pitiful AFC once more

MAKING THE CASE

January 31, 1993|By Vito Stellino | Vito Stellino,Staff Writer

PASADENA, CALIFORNIA — PASADENA, Calif. -- I keep expecting the Better Business Bureau to show up at the Super Bowl one of these years to charge the NFL with deceptive advertising.

They advertise a spectacular game and the NFC team then usually turns it into a dud.

The NFL is back this year selling the idea that the AFC team has a chance to win the Super Bowl.

They've come up with all these reasons why we should take the Buffalo Bills seriously this time.

They've pointed out the Bills are 10-4 against NFC teams the last three years and 4-0 this year.

They claim they've matured. I'm not so sure about that one, but they're talking a good game, so I'll give them credit for it.

Thurman Thomas gets points for passing out miniature plastic helmets to reporters on Thursday.

After all those years of whining that he doesn't get enough recognition and he's "only" considered the best all-around back instead of simply the best runner, it's good to see Thomas showing a sense of humor.

I thought the Bills were going to be uptight fielding all the questions about losing a third straight Super Bowl, but they were so bland all week that I thought Joe Gibbs must have given them lessons.

They also talk about this wave of emotion they've been riding since the comeback victory over Houston.

But that's where some holes start showing in their case.

They don't point out they played a Pittsburgh team without a quarterback and a Miami team without a running game. They haven't played a sound, balanced team since the Houston comeback.

In short, they haven't played an NFC team. There's a reason why the NFC has won eight straight.

To understand the Bills' problem, let's go back to Nov. 29 and Dec. 6. That's when they lost back-to-back games to the Colts, 16-13, and the Jets, 24-17.

Case closed. Super Bowl champions don't lose to the Indianapolis Colts. At least, it hasn't happened yet. The Bills are simply not the stuff of which championship teams are made.

Sure, they won in San Francisco and in New Orleans during the regular season, but they also got to play six games against the Colts, Jets and New England Patriots.

That's not quite the same as playing an NFC schedule the way the Cowboys did.

I'm also not impressed with all the talk about their Super Bowl experience. That experience includes being beaten by Jeff Hostetler and Mark Rypien. This time, they've got to face Troy Aikman.

I also bought that experience argument two weeks ago when I picked the 49ers to beat the Cowboys. The 49ers had all the experience in that one and it didn't make a difference.

Beating the 49ers in San Francisco was a tougher assignment than is beating the Bills in the Rose Bowl. Aikman and Emmitt Smith are so cool that you'd think they had been around for a decade.

I'm not going to get fooled by the experience argument again.

The Bills also like to think that their no-huddle will neutralize the situation substitutions that the Cowboys use so effectively on defense. But the Redskins, another team that likes to substitute a lot on defense, had no trouble handling it last year.

L Then there's the problem the Bills will have stopping Smith.

Smith against the Bills defense is the biggest single matchup in this game, and I don't think they can stop him. Maybe I'm too impressed with the way Smith keeps churning out those 100-yard games against Richie Petitbon's defense in Washington, but Smith always seems to get better in the second half.

Unless the Bills get a big lead early and force the Cowboys out of their game plan, look for Smith to wear them down in the second half.

The Bills have already proved they know how to lose the Super Bowl. Today, they'll show that they haven't lost their touch.

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