Football is officially back! So, too is the weekly installment that is known as “The Four Quarters.” For those of you who are new to The Landry Hat, each week I will provide four key elements to each Dallas 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. The fourth quarter is, of course, 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 the lines found on vegasinsider.com, specifically from the MGM Grand Sports Book. This year I will also add what I like to call my “Fab Four” which are the four games I feel the most comfortable betting on.
So without further ado, here is the first edition of The Four Quarters for the 2013 season…
We Must Protect This House
Dec 23, 2012; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys linebacker DeMarcus Ware (94) and cornerback Morris Claiborne (24) tackle New Orleans Saints receiver Lance Moore (16) at Cowboys Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
Do you remember Eric Ogbogu? If you do, chances are you either a Cowboys Super Fan or you really liked the Under Armour brand in the mid-to-late 2000’s. Ogbogu finished his NFL career as a Dallas Cowboy but was probably better known as the guy from the Under Armour commercials like this one
whose catch-phrase was “WE MUST PROTECT THIS HOUSE!” Well, Dallas must protect their house. The Giants are undefeated in Dallas’ new stadium, dating all the way back to 2009. The last two losses to the Giants have seen New York jump out to leads of 21-0 and 23-0. This MUST stop. The Cowboys have to bring a focused mentality that they will not, under any circumstances, let this continue. I fully believe they are capable of doing so, as last year they showed mental toughness winning the season opener in New York when the Giants were coming off their most recent Super Bowl triumph. A win tonight would go a long way towards getting the season started on the right foot.
… and the ball too
Aug 24, 2013; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo (9) throws in the pocket during the first quarter against the Cincinnati Bengals at AT
There is one main reason to blame for the fact that the Giants have dominated this series of late, winning eight of the last eleven match-ups. Turnovers. In the last six losses, Dallas has a total of 18 turnovers. For the Cowboys to be successful, this trend cannot continue. In the three games Dallas has won recently, their turnover total was THREE. It’s that simple. In the debacle at home last year, Dallas had thrown three interceptions and fumbled the ball twice in the first 17 minutes of play leading to that 23-0 deficit. That makes winning almost impossible. The bugaboo of losing at home can be vanquished with a solid performance that includes minimizing costly mistakes that just give games away. For this team to take the next step they so desperately want to take, eliminating turnovers has to be the main ingredient to their success.
Seek and Dez-troy
Aug 24, 2013; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant (88) celebrates his second quarter touchdown against the Cincinnati Bengals at AT
In 2012, the Giants finished 28th out of 32 teams in total pass defense. This included giving up the fifth most passing yards, the most yards per pass attempt and the sixth best completion percentage in the league. In the two games they faced Dez Bryant, he compiled 9 catches for almost 200 yards. In 2013, Dez Bryant has gotten better. The Giants defense has not. It is likely they will either be completely missing feared pass rusher Jason-Pierre Paul or he will be severely limited. They are starting 75% of the same defensive back field they did for almost all of last year and the new addition, Ryan Mundy, isn’t exactly a ball-hawking safety. He has accounted for a grand total of one interception in his four years in the league. For Dallas to win, Dez must get the ball early and often. This should force New York to roll extra coverage his way, allowing for Miles Austin, Jason Witten and the rest of the talented pass catchers on this team to work one-on-one with the sub par Giants defense. If they don’t, Bryant could have 9 catches and 200 yards in this game alone.
Hold The Line
Jun 12, 2012; Irving, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys tackle Tyron Smith (77) talks with Doug Free (68) during minicamp at Dallas Cowboys headquarters. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
Of course, in order for the passing game to really click, Tony Romo needs time to throw the ball. He needs to not be rushed into bad decisions. He needs that one extra second or two to find the holes in this defense and punish them like he has in the past. This luxury needs to be afforded to him by the offensive line. Jason Garrett has been quiet as to who will be starting in front of Romo but you can bet that Tyron Smith and Doug Free will be manning the edges. Pressure off the edges has been the bread and butter of the Giants historically. If the tackles keep Tony clean and upright, the rest of their defense does not have a chance against the weaponry Dallas possesses.
The prediction: Giants 17, Cowboys 31
On to the picks for Week 1.
In case you are unfamiliar with how Vegas defines the point spread of each game, you will see a number by a team that is either positive or negative. If the number is positive, like it is for the Raiders, that indicates that Raiders are being given that number of points (in this case 10) versus the Colts. If you bet on the Raiders, you essentially start the game up 10-0. So, even if the Raiders lose by anything under 10 points or win outright, you would win your bet. Remember this as I am not saying teams like Oakland or Buffalo will win outright, just cover the spread. If the number is negative, as it is with the Cowboys, that means that Vegas has made Dallas the favorite by that number (in this case 3) so Dallas must win by 3 or more points for you to win your bet. The home team will be in all CAPS.
For my Thursday night picks, you can follow me on Twitter @tdotstarr as I tweet my pick usually an hour before kickoff. This week, I could not have been more wrong as I thought Baltimore would cover the 7.5 spread. Oh well, as a wise sharp once told me, “A good gambler has a short memory and doesn’t remember the losses.”
WEEK 1 RECORD: 0-1
SEASON RECORD: 0-1
-3 NEW ORLEANS over Atlanta
+10 Oakland over INDIANAPOLIS
-1 CLEVELAND over Miami
+4.5 Minnesota over DETROIT
+9.5 BUFFALO over New England
-3 Tampa Bay over N.Y. JETS
-4 Kansas City over Jacksonville
-3.5 Seattle over CAROLINA
+3 Cincinnati over CHICAGO
+7 Tennessee over PITTSBURGH
+4.5 Green Bay over SAN FRANCISCO
+5.5 Arizona over ST. LOUIS
-3 DALLAS over N.Y. Giants
-3.5 WASHINGTON over Philadelphia
-4 Houston over SAN DIEGO
As for my “Fab Four” picks, I really Cleveland -1, Minnesota +4.5, Tennessee +7 and Dallas -3. If you were to bet $25 on these four teams on one ticket, you would have the potential to win $250. Not a bad start to the season. Let’s see how things go.