December 9, 2012; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo (9) is pulled to the ground by Cincinnati Bengals defensive end Michael Johnson (93) at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

Dallas Cowboys: The Four Quarters (Week 14 Edition)

Being one of the newest contributors to the Landry Hat, I would like to introduce our readers to a new installment you can find on our website. Each week I will provide four key elements to each Cowboys game which I believe will be the most important aspects to focus on in order to become victorious. I like to call it “the Four Quarters.” While all four quarters are necessary to earning the win, each quarter’s level of intensity expands so the first quarter has lesser importance than quarters two and three while the fourth quarter is the most crucial. I also enjoy the gambling aspect of football so I will include my picks against the spread each week afterwards. I use lines found on, specifically from the MGM Grand Sports Book. Without further ado, here are the Four Quarters:

- Don’t hit snooze…

I have belabored this point all year long. Dallas cannot keep sleepwalking through the first half of games. The Cowboys are scoring barely over one touchdown prior to halftime (6.38 points per half) even though they average 23.3 points per game. Furthermore, Dallas has been behind or tied at the half in nine of their twelve games. Getting off to a strong start and being able to play with a lead would be crucial, especially on the road. Cincinnati has only one win versus an opponent with a winning record and in that one win, they were the one who got off to the quick start with a 17-6 halftime lead.

- ‘Tis the season of NOT giving…

The Cowboys are 3-2 in their last five games, with two losses by less than seven points including a road game versus the 11-1 Falcons. This is due in large part to the fact that in those five games, they have had a total of four turnovers. Three of the four came in the Thanksgiving Day loss to the Redskins. In the previous seven games, the Cowboys had NINETEEN turnovers which resulted in a 3-4 start. These included games versus the Giants and Bears that were literally given away due to this issue. Plain and simple, if Dallas controls their possessions, they will be in a great spot to win, especially since the Bengals defense is very average statistically.

- It’s not easy beating Green…

In the span of 27 career NFL games, A.J. Green has placed himself clearly in the upper echelon of wide receivers. I think most everyone would say Calvin Johnson is the best but Green certainly can stake a claim to that number two spot. Green has back to back 1,000 yard receiving years and 17 total touchdowns including a streak earlier this year of nine straight games with a score. Without question, stopping or at least limiting him has to be the Cowboys main focus on defense. I don’t believe that Dallas has any other option besides consistently doubling him when he’s on the outside and using Brandon Carr on him in slot situations to jam him with another corner essentially playing zone behind in case he gets off the jam. If Green has a big day, the Cowboys could receive the death nail to their playoff hopes.

- Pocket protectors…

While Cincinnati is solid defensively, ranking in the top thirteen in rushing yards allowed, passing yards allowed and points per game allowed, they are best at getting to the quarterback, posting a league high thirteen sacks. As we know, the Cowboys offensive line has been anything but stellar all year long. Whether it’s been penalties or the lack of time given to Tony Romo to properly do his job, the line has been the most glaringly weak unit on the team. If the Cowboys are to have any success, Romo needs time to expose the questionable secondary of the Bengals and not just late in the third quarter and in the fourth to pull a miracle out of the hat.

The bottom line is that both teams need this to keep their playoff aspirations on point but for some reason, I believe in the Cowboys this week. They have played better on the road than at home this year. The pick… Cowboys 27, Bengals 23.

Now for the picks for the week. As I mentioned earlier, each week I like to make my picks against the spread. Last week I had a pretty good week, going 10-6 against the spread however I am still under .500 for the year. I am hoping to get back over that hump this week. My pick will be in all caps and in bold with the spread next to the team name.

LAST WEEK: 10-6 (.625)
SEASON TOTAL: 95-96 (.497)
THIS WEEK: 1-0 (1,000)

+2.5 BALTIMORE at Washington
+7 KANSAS CITY at Cleveland
+8 SAN DIEGO at Pittsburgh
Tennessee at INDIANAPOLIS -5.5
-3 CHICAGO at Minnesota
-3.5 ATLANTA at Carolina
+7.5 PHILADELPHIA at Tampa Bay
St. Louis at BUFFALO -3
+3 DALLAS at Cincinnati
+10 MIAMI at San Francisco
New Orleans at N.Y. GIANTS -5
Arizona at SEATTLE -10
+7 DETROIT at Green Bay
Houston at NEW ENGLAND -3.5

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Tags: Dallas Cowboys Tony Romo

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