Most people have given up on the Dallas Cowboys for this season. Some of you are probably looking forward to a top-ten pick in next year’s NFL draft and the ensuing free agency frenzy that surrounds that time of the year. At 3-4 the Cowboys should be counted out right? Not so fast.
Things have not looked pretty so far. In all actuality this has been one of the uglier seasons in recent memory. The one big thing that Dallas has in their corner is the mediocrity of most teams in the NFC and across the NFL for that matter. Not very many teams are pulling away from the pack. Teams like Detroit, Green Bay, and Philadelphia are not pulling away from the pack like they were projected to do. Of the teams that would make the playoffs if it started this week, two of them have the same 3-4 record the Cowboys have; Detroit and Tampa Bay. There is still hope for this team, despite the erratic play of starting quarterback Tony Romo and the apparent vanilla play calling styling of head coach Jason Garrett.
The next hurdle the Dallas Cowboys face is the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday Night. That’s right, the same Falcons that are NFL’s lone undefeated team left. At 7-0 most people see this as an automatic win for the Falcons, especially considering the massive amount of penalties the Cowboys commit each week to go along with the apparent turnover troubles the Dallas offense has. But this game is more of a strength versus strength type than anything else.
If you dive into the stats you see that Dallas has the third best pass defense in the league so far, only allowing opposing offenses an average of 187.7 yards per game. What is Atlanta’s obvious strength on offense? Their passing game with electric receivers Julio Jones and Roddy White is by far their strongest asset on offense. Falcons’ quarterback Matt Ryan finds them early and often for big gains and huge plays.
The match-up to watch for is going to be Dallas cornerback Brandon Carr versus Jones and White. Carr has been a stifling defender this year that thrives on being physical at the line of scrimmage in order to mess up the timing between opposing quarterbacks and receivers. His numbers are not eye-popping, but when you have a cornerback are good as Carr is, and a rookie starting on the opposite side, opposing quarterback have chosen to throw away from Carr. That’s what we will most likely see Ryan do Sunday night.
It’s no surprise Sunday night’s game is going to be a tough one. Dallas has not fared well historically on Sunday nights. They have lost their last seven outings on Sunday prime time games. If Dallas hopes to have any chance in this contest, The Carr and the Dallas defense will have to carry the load.