Emmitt Smith usually isn't one I'd bet on in any battle of wits, but I agree that the Cowboys will not only struggle to make the playoffs in 2009, but are unlikely to win more than 8 games.
There's a lot of legitimate reasons to think this, the main ones being Dallas' brutal schedule and overall lack of upgrades to a team that went 9-7 in 2008. But there is also a lot of wishful thinking involved, because a deep Cowboys playoff run, or, Rozelle forbid, a win in XLIV, might just destroy the league as we know it.
Jerry Jones is already spoiling for a fight not only with the players association, but also "lower revenue" owners from San Diego to Buffalo. As I'm sure y'all know, the NFL's mammoth success is not based on the Invisible Hand of the free market, but upon a carefully regulated system of revenue sharing among the league's teams (why doesn't every Glenn Beck fan out there decry the NFL as a socialist institution on par with anything Hugo Chavez could dream up? I'm shocked this hasn't happened yet).
Pete Rozelle was powerful and progressive-minded enough to persuade high revenue teams like the Giants to share TV revenues equally back in the 1960s, and the competitive balance created by revenue sharing is a huge part of what made the NFL the single most successful pro sports league in the world.
Jerry Jones is the key member of a small but influential group of owners who basically want to blow up the system that created the NFL as we know it today, and he's making it perfectly clear where he stands when it comes to the NFL's looming labor struggles.
Combine this with his petulant refusal to rationally deal with the video board issue in his new stadium, and you don't need me to draw you a picture in crayon: Double J is prepping for a big fight, and every Cowboys win makes him ever more powerful in the fraternity of NFL owners. We should be thankful that this will likely be the 13th year in a row that Dallas will fail to win a playoff game, because the huge TV ratings and merchandising revenues that a deep Dallas playoff run would generate would instantly become ammunition for Jones in his fight to wall his little empire off from the rest of the NFL.
Our boys join the fight to keep the Cowboys miiiiiiiiles away from a 6th Lombardi Trophy on November 1st. We should hope they win not just out of self-interest, but for the greater good of the sport and league we all love.