For the remainder of this season, the title of "Americaâs Team" is officially on loan, from Dallas to New England.
Until New England loses a game -- if it loses a game -- the Patriots are "Americaâs Team."
Anyone who follows football now follows the Patriots the way it would a hometown team, waiting to see whether New England can get past the best teams of this year and the 1972 Miami Dolphins of yesteryear.
There are those who root for the Patriots, those who root against them, but no one can deny that everyone is watching them. Everyone.
They track whether Randy Moss can reel in four more touchdown receptions and the NFLâs all-time single-season touchdown catch record that now belongs to Jerry Rice.
They monitor New England's assault of history and the pursuit of perfection. The Patriots next two games are footballâs version of slam dunks.
Sunday comes a Jets team that exposed Spygate and made the Patriots pay. Now comes New England's payback. In the past, cameramen captured Bill Belichick and Eric Mangini's postgame midfield handshake. This year, the cameramen can take the day off. If there is any handshake, it will be a bigger upset than the Jets beating the Patriots.
After the Jets comes a Dolphins team as imperfect as New England is perfect. So put it down now -- 15-0, leaving a Saturday night game in Giants Stadium, on NFL Network, as the lone remaining obstacle between 16-0 and history.
No longer is it a question of whether the Patriots will go 16-0. The more pertinent question is whether they will go 19-0. And maybe their biggest obstacle is the team from which they have borrowed a title.
If and when the Patriots and Cowboys square off in Glendale, Ariz. -- in what would be the best winning percentage two Super Bowl teams have ever combined to have -- they would be playing for a title way more meaningful than "America's Team."