After an emotional 30-21 win over the New York Jets on Sunday, the Patriots will play their last game before the bye on Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys. The Cowboys are the talk of the NFC because they could be 4-0 if not for two collapses in the 4th quarter against the Jets and the Lions due to quarterback Tony Romo’s interception problems.
The one thing Dallas has going for them is their new defensive coordinator Rob Ryan. Ryan is the guy who is known for being the last great defensive mind to hold Tom Brady and this prolific Patriots’ offense to under 30 points. It is the complex system that has a tendency to give Brady fits at times. The defense is talking smack just like a Ryan defense normally does, but that just fuels New England’s fire even more. We will get to some of the smack talk later in the prediction segment.
Here are my three keys to this intra-conference showdown:
A Few Miles Away: The Dallas Cowboys’ offense is going to get a huge boost this weekend. Their third year receiver, Miles Austin, is returning to the starting lineup after a hamstring injury has had him sidelined since Week 2. In that game against San Francisco, Austin had nine catches for 143 yards and three touchdowns. Miles is Romo’s favorite wide receiver target that is not a tight end. This is going to be a huge problem for the Patriots’ defense, particulary cornerback Devin McCourty. Austin and Dez Bryant are going to rack up a ton of yards in this game.
Scanning The Field for Welker: Even though Lions’ wide receiver Calvin “Megatron” Johnson is on pace to shatter Randy Moss’s touchdown record from 2007, the focus in this game is on a current Patriot, Wes Welker. Welker leads the NFL in receiving yards with 740 and has a favorable matchup this weekend. Welker will be guarded by Dallas’ cornerback Orlando Scandrick. Scandrick got a five year, $26 million extension during the offseason, but has not played since Week 1. He said during this week he would “make Welker work”. You know Wes is taking those words to heart!
Ware And Tear: When you talk about the Cowboys’ defense, you have to mention their star pass rusher DeMarcus Ware. Ware has had five sacks in the first four games this season. Keep an eye on the matchup against Patriots’ franchise left tackle Matt Light. If Brady is going to stay upright, his blind side has to be protected. The Jets were able to get to Brady at times last week. Now, you face a Dallas team that can win a shootout. Keep Brady upright and you win this football game!
PREDICTION: Earlier this week, I thought the Dallas Cowboys had a great chance to win this football game because of getting Miles Austin back and Rob Ryan’s defense giving Brady fits. Now, I think the Patriots are going to beat the Cowboys by double digits. The Ryan trash talk has moved from the Jets to the Cowboys. Just like we did last week, let us put up the bulletin board that Belichick has on the wall this week:
Defensive End Kenyon Coleman: “Pretty much the kitchen sink, to put it lightly,” – Comment made on what they are bringing to the Patriots’ offense
Defensive End Marcus Spears: Yeah, we’re probably going to get killed. They’re the greatest team ever to play football. We’re not deeming this team gods of football. They can be beat. We saw it.”
The sarcasm by Spears is definitely on the Belichick wall this week. As for the on-the-field action, I think the Patriots will be able to force Romo into a couple 4th quarter turnovers because he is famous for that. Brady throws for three touchdowns in this game with Aaron Hernandez fully healthy and possibly a limited BenJarvus Green-Ellis in this game at running back. Patriots go into their bye week on a great note!
PATRIOTS 35 COWBOYS 24