Pre-Game Meal: Dallas Cowboys

Patriots Cowboys Devin McCourty

Patriots corner Devin McCourty has a tall task in front of him on Sunday.

NEPD Staff Writer Brian Delabarrera gives you his take on the upcoming Patriots vs Dolphins game.

Last week against the New York Jets, the Patriots put together one of their most complete games on the 2011 season. While only throwing for one score and one turnover, Tom Brady got a ton of help from the offensive line and BenJarvus Green-Ellis.

BJGE rushed for a high 136 yards and 2 touchdowns of his own to put out the Jets 30-21.

The offense was able to adjust to the increased level of pass coverage by successfully running at will. The Patriots defense, without cornerstone LB Jerod Mayo, stepped their game up to hand Mark Sanchez his third-straight defeat. The defense unit revived the faith of their fans by holding on to a lead once the game began to get too close for comfort.

The most amazing feature that has come to be expected of the Bill Belichick gameplan is the ability of the Patriots to really show up when they need to. Mental toughness is clearly going to be the key for this young defense. They need to maintain this momentum going in to their Bye week by taking care of the Dallas Cowboys for their first visit to Foxboro in over half a decade.

After a bye week of their own, the Cowboys are excited to being back the healthiest versions of WR Miles Austin and RB Felix Jones that have seen the gridiron in weeks.

Tony Romo’s offense has been able to move the football for over 300 total yards in every game this season, only once having to rely on Jones’ feet. Now with Austin working with TE Jason Witten and WR Dez Bryant, Romo will have an intimidating hand to raise to the Patriots offensive arsenal.

For both teams it Sunday afternoon will be a marathon; we know they both can score a lot of points, but who will slip up first? Maybe with the return of CB Orlando Scandrick, the Dallas secondary can buy their offense enough time to aggravate the home team and make it a shootout.

Dallas’ defensive line can create pressure and close the gaps quickly so Tom Brady and Wes Welker will look to continue their streak of dominance early on to slow down the speed of the game to their preferred tempo.

The Coverage Marathon – 
Both QBs have had a hot hand lately. Before falling to the Detroit Lions, Tony Romo threw for over 300 yards to put his team in position to win but crumbled under the pressure of the hungry Lions also tossing 3 picks to match is TD tally.  

The coverage for wideouts will probably be one-one-one when TE Jason Witten is running routes on the field. Witten is a staple of the Dallas offense and s Pat Chung’s main responsibility will be shutting this guy down. He is a clutch receiver and gets Romo’s eye most when he can’t get the ball to other guys.

The key play for the Lions came on a pass intended for Witten in in the final quarter in which the LB Stephen Tulloch was able to read it and come away with the turnover to shift the momentum. Getting Miles Austin back means that Romo’s job will be easier and the Patriots job will be harder. Without safety Josh Barrett injured, Chung will need to command the secondary with Northampton, MA native safety James Ihedigbo to guard Austin over the top.

Just when everything seems under control, the Cowboys still have explosive WR Dex Bryant as a very viable option. It will be a long, tall task for Devin McCourty, Kyle Arrington, and possibly Leigh Bodden to keep up for 60 minutes especially with the lack of offseason conditioning haunting many players. The Patriots might also want to create some sort of pass rush, they haven’t been able to really find a groove in that department.

Tom Brady, on the other hand, will need to be wary of the rush. Defensive end Demarcus Ware will have his eyes on the New England weak spot in OT Nate Solder. Ware can single-handedly change the flow of the game by getting in to the quarterback’s head.

If the offensive line can blend like they did last week to push the pile, the Pats will be able to hand the ball off to the backs comfortably and open up the play-action. Brady will also dominate in the pocket is the line can hold up. Green-Ellis did a solid job carrying the team on his back against New York and I expect Brady to pick up a lot of the load.

The Cowboys defense will tire in the face of a relentless pass attack as the Patriots jog in to their Bye week. Our defense just needs to do it’s job. We know Brady doesn’t like to lose at home. Defensive coach Rob Ryan will need to pull some new tricks out of his sleeve to replay his defensive success of the Cleveland game of a while back.

Vince Wilfork vs. Felix Jones –
Fantasy owners of Jones won’t be happy to hear that the RBs return after injury and a bye week places him across from the 320 lb nightmare nose tackle. Wilfork’s ability to get off the blocks and get in the runner’s path is remarkable. For someone of his size to move with so much power and quickness – it just gets me every time. He of all people knows how important it will be to stop Jones from carrying the Dallas offense.

The Lions were able to stuff the middle of the line with powerful tackles to keep Jones at bay and I expect Belichick to follow suit and load up big bodies next to Wilfork. Together, the line will have to get to Jones before he can create space and get in to the secondary. The Boys just possess too much speed in the open field.

Felix may see pay dirt once on Sunday, but Big Vince cannot let things get out of hand down there. Hopefully LB Jerod Mayo’s amazing MCL heal wasn’t just a dream and the captain can help bring the rush. His presence, knowledge, and tackling will give the Patriots the advantage they need at home.

Wildcards:

Dallas Cowboys – LB Sean Lee: the 2nd year linebacker from Penn State has elevated his level of play greatly this season. With 35 tackles, 2 fumble recoveries, and 2 interceptions (T-9th), he can effect the game in many aspects. His awareness and speed put him in the right place very often and it will be key for New England to block him as best they can in third and short situations. Throwing over the middle wouldn’t be my advice to Brady if he doesn’t need to throw near this slick LB.

New England – TE Aaron Hernandez: Last week against the Jets, Hernandez had the chance to put the game away, but dropped a bullet pass in the end zone. Since it was his first week off injury, we’ll cut him some slack. But now, against a guy like Jason Witten, I expect Hernandez and Gronkowski to come up big and feed off each other. Without Hernandez though, the Patriots offense will have trouble stretching the field. He is a match-up nightmare.

I really expect the Patriots to put on a performance to solidify their right to a share of 1st place in the AFC East. Tony Romo, once again, can’t handle the pressure when the crowd is cheering against him.

New England 35 – Dallas 27

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3 Responses to “Pre-Game Meal: Dallas Cowboys”

  1. TD says:

    I expect Pat’s to up tempo the game, get ahead and this time run down the clock in the 4th quarter, like last week.

    If BJGE’s toe is still hurting, we will see more Ridley and/or Woody.

  2. Lundahl says:

    I hope Woodhead can play. That means we can have the no-huddle offense. It’s going to be a very intense game ! Looking forward for an Ocho TD I can feel it !

  3. Janna says:

    Right on! I love you

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