Friday, October 12, 2012

Dallas Cowboys vs. Baltimore Ravens

The Ravens and Cowboys will square off this Sunday at 1 PM ET.  The venue being the MT&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, Maryland.  The Cowboys look to keep pace with the Giants and Eagles in the NFC East whereas the Ravens look to keep their comfortable lead in the AFC North and move to 5-1.


The Cowboys look to get that two-week old bad taste out of their mouths after losing to the Chicago Bears 34-18 on Monday Night Football in embarrassing fashion.  Although losing in such a way is typical of these Romo-led Cowboys.

The Ravens look to keep momentum going before a huge showdown next week in Houston.  These aren't your little brother's Ravens defensively, but they still force turnovers(4th in the league in takeaways) and keep the other team from scoring(17.8 ppg) after 5 games. The Ravens will try like hell not to overlook these Cowboys seeing as they face the 5-0 Houston Texans next week.  But it's hardly something you would expect out of a John Harbaugh team.  Oh, and it just so happens that these Ravens rarely lose at home.  So to expect a letdown here would be unwise despite what lies ahead of them in Houston.

Keys to a Cowboy victory:

  • They must force multiple turnovers.  A big key to winning road games against great teams in this league requires forcing them out of their comfort zone and into multiple mistakes.
  • Conversely, they also must protect the football themselves.  The Cowboys cannot afford Tony Turnover to show up this week. 
  • The running game must get back on its feet.  It has disappeared since the win in MetLife Stadium against the defending champs.
  • No circus music plays.  I don't think anybody can describe this Romo-led Cowboy team in one sentence better than Stephen A. Smith can.  "The Cowboys are an accident waiting to happen."  That's essentially what I'm saying here.  I call them circus music plays.  Eliminate those plays, and they'll stand a fighting chance.

Keys to a Raven victory:

  • Feed Ray Rice to set up playaction.
  • Feed off the crowd's energy.
  • Keep the Cowboys' running game in check.  They keep the Cowboys one-dimensional, their offense becomes highly predictable.
  • Let the Cowboys beat themselves.  That shouldn't be too hard to do.  Minimize their own mistakes, and let the Cowboys implode.  It's what the Cowboys always do.

Key players for the Cowboys:

  • Jay Ratliff- It's hard to believe the Cowboys have the #4 ranked defense in the NFL when Ratliff has yet to play a game this season.  He obviously makes their defense better.  He provides them with a rare versatility from the nose tackle position.  The ability to pressure the QB from up the middle as well as stopping the run.  The Cowboys desperately need Ratliff because although the defense has been stout, they haven't been able to generate much pressure up the middle to collapse the pocket.  Josh Brent filled in admirably in his absence, but he's simply not Jay Ratliff.
  • Miles Austin- If Miles Austin has a big game, the Ravens are gonna have problems.  He is the best weapon the Cowboys have.  Witten hasn't been Witten so far this season and Dez cannot be trusted to properly run routes.  If Miles Austin has a big day, the Cowboys have a great chance of pulling off the upset.
  • Brandon Carr- Carr was paid handsomely to improve the secondary.  To his credit, he has done that.  But after a spotty game against Brandon Marshall, he needs to bounce back and show why the Cowboys gave him that contract.  It also wouldn't hurt to get an interception.  If he got an interception, it would be the first for anyone in this secondary.  They may have the #1 pass defense in football so far, but you wouldn't think it given a player in the secondary has yet to catch an interception.  This Sunday would be a good time to start making plays on the ball for Carr and the rest of that secondary.

Key players for the Ravens:

  • Ed Reed-  With an average secondary, Reed will need to be his typical self.  Romo and his receivers aren't always on the same page, but there is no denying the Cowboys' receivers are talented.  Ed Reed will need to help keep the big plays to a minimum for a pass defense that is ranked 23rd in the NFL.
  • Haloti Ngata- To say the Cowboys have a suspect offensive line would be an understatement.  The fact of the matter is, the Ravens haven't generated much of a pass rush with the absence of Terrell Suggs so far this season.  They have to get creative to generate pressure.  So it is key that Ngata has a big game.  He doesn't need to get sacks, but collapsing the interior of the Cowboys offensive line and forcing Romo out of the pocket to allow blitzers to get to him will be big. As well as helping keep the Cowboys' running game in check.
  • Lardarius Webb- The Ravens love to play Webb all over the field.  That will be key to stopping a guy like Miles Austin.  Austin is the Cowboys' best route runner and he can take his routes all over the field.  If Webb can keep him in check, the Cowboys' offense will have trouble moving the football.  Webb is also a great run defender for a cornerback.  He isn't afraid to make the tackle, so he will be key in helping stop the run as well.


I love my Cowboys, but it's hard to trust them to pull this one out.  My gut is telling me this game will be close, and the Cowboys will have a chance to win in the end.  But the Cowboys will probably make key mistakes and the Ravens will capitalize off of them.  The Ravens are also at home so it's tough to bet against them in this one.  Being good but not good enough is a microcosm of these new age Cowboys, and that will show Sunday.  I say the Ravens win 23-17 even though I'm cringing as I type this.

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