Cowboys’ Four Quarters to Success


Week 14 saw the Cowboys post the type of win that would have made any fan proud of the 53 guys who wore the Star on Sunday. Facing a must-win game and in the midst of an unexpected tragedy, Dallas won on the road in the most gutsy and inspiring effort of the year against a Cincinnati team also fighting for a playoff spot. Winners of four of their last five, the Cowboys face an old time rival in the Pittsburgh Steelers. Another week brings another opponent that is fighting for a playoff spot. Here are the most important factors to this week’s game or as I like to call it, the Four Quarters.

– Mirror, Mirror…

Both Dallas and Pittsburgh are 7-6. Both teams are in top ten in passing offense and defense. Both teams are in the bottom third in rushing offense. Both teams have a double-digit negative turnover margin and each team has a big-time threat at the wide receiver position along with question marks on the offensive line. For Dallas to win this game, they will have to overcome the major difference between the two teams which is the running defense. While Dallas gives up almost 120 yards a game, the Steelers give up just over 90 yards a game. With DeMarco Murray’s re-emergence as a key catalyst to the Cowboys offense, Dallas must be able to have productivity on the ground, while making the Steelers one dimensional to have a chance to win.

– Speed limit…

Much like last week with A.J. Green, the Cowboys face another dynamic, big play receiver in Mike Wallace. Wallace has been the speed guy for Pittsburgh since he came into the league as evident by the fact that 19 of his 32 total touchdowns have been over 30 yards. Much of the success of the Cowboys defense will be decided by how Mike Wallace performs. If Dallas can hold him to something like the three catches for forty-four yards and no touchdown performance that A.J. Green had last week, they have an excellent chance of winning this showdown.

– Find the kryptonite…

These Steelers will not remind you of the late 70’s Steel Curtain. They do not have any individual player at or near the top of any major statistic. What they are doing is playing defense extremely well as a team. They are first against the pass, fifth against the run and seventh in points allowed. In four of their six losses, Pittsburgh has given up over 26 points, however in their seven wins, they average giving up only 15 which includes never giving up more than twenty in any one game. For Dallas to be successful, they cannot fall behind early or big as Pittsburgh’s defense clearly is not one that will bend if they are playing with a lead.

– The hangover

For almost an entire week now, the players on this team have had to deal with the emotional roller coaster of losing two teammates, playing a game immediately after getting the news, going to the memorial service for Jerry Brown and preparing for another must win game. Even though the Cowboys handled this unimaginable tragedy extremely well last week, it is imperative that they are able to compartmentalize what they are going through and avoid any emotional let down.

My pick for the game… Steelers 21, Cowboys 27.

On to the picks for Week 15, a late push was necessary to avoid a losing record last week. I was wrong to think that Philadelphia would cover the five point spread on Thursday night so I am already in a whole for this week,

LAST WEEK: 8-8 (.500)
SEASON TOTAL: 103-105 (.495)
THIS WEEK: 0-1 (.000)

-3 GREEN BAY at Chicago
N.Y. Giants at ATLANTA -1.5
+3.5 TAMPA BAY at New Orleans
Minnesota at ST. LOUIS -3
+7 WASHINGTON at Cleveland
-2.5 DENVER at Baltimore
+8.5 INDIANAPOLIS at Houston
+3.0 CAROLINA at San Diego
Seattle at BUFFALO +5.5
Detroit at ARIZONA +6.5
Pittsburgh at DALLAS +1.5
Kansas City at OAKLAND -3
+5.5 SAN FRANCISCO at New England
+1.5 N.Y. JETS at Tennessee