Tale Of The Tape: Dallas Cowboys At New Orleans Saints
- QuarterbackA week after enduring a heartbreaking loss at Detroit, Tony Romo led the Cowboys to a last-minute come-from-behind victory against the Minnesota Vikings. If the Cowboys are going to come through with a road win at New Orleans, Romo is going to have to be on top of his game. Romo has completed 66.2 percent of his passes and he has an impressive 20-8 TD-interception ratio.Drew Brees was a bit embarrassed after going to Met Life Stadium and losing to the Jets. New York simply couldn’t match the Saints in talent, but the Jets outworked the visitors. Look for a big bounce-back game from Brees and the Saints. As long as Brees gets decent protection, he should be able to find open receivers in the Dallas secondary.
- OffenseThe Cowboys got a bit of a lift from their ground game against the Vikings as DeMarco Murray ran with a purpose throughout the majority of the game. However, Murray has not proved to be a consistent running back. The Cowboys have to get the ball to Dez Bryant and give him a chance to make big plays. Tight end Jason Witten is one of the best third-down receivers in the NFL.The Saints don’t have a balanced attack. They would like to give Drew Brees some help with the running of Pierre Thomas, but they are averaging 79.8 yards per game on the ground and that ranks 26th in the league. Tight end Jimmy Graham is the best player at his position in the league and he is a threat to make a big play every time he goes downfield. Kenny Stills is an improving wide receiver.
- DefenseThe Cowboys have struggled badly on defense and they have given up a lot of big plays at the wrong time. The Cowboys rank 31st in yards allowed. Don’t blame middle linebacker Sean Lee for their problems. He is having an exceptional year, as he leads the Cowboys with 90 tackles and he also has four interceptions. If DeMarcus Ware (quad) can return to the lineup, the Cowboys become a better team.The Saints are much improved on defense this season under coordinator Rob Ryan, as they rank 10th in yards allowed. Defensive end Cameron Jordan has a team-high 6.0 sacks, but he has slowed down in recent weeks. Middle linebacker Curtis Lofton leads the team with 67 tackles, while strong safety Kenny Vaccaro has 42 tackles and six passes defensed.
- Special TeamsThe Cowboys have done an excellent job in punt and kickoff coverage, and they have gotten a boost from returner Dwayne Harris who has returned a punt for a touchdown and a kickoff 90 yards. Placekicker Dan Bailey is having an excellent year as he has converted 16-of-18 FG attempts.The Saints have done a decent job with their coverage teams but they suffered a blow when Darren Sproles suffered a concussion vs. the Jets. Placekicker Garrett Hartley is struggling this season as he missed five of his 21 FG attempts. Thomas Morstead has dropped 14 of his 30 punts inside the 20.
This is a huge game for both teams because the Saints are trying to hold off the hard-charging Carolina Panthers, while the Cowboys want to show they can win a big game on the road. Until Romo can show that he won’t make a key mistake at a big moment, you have to favor Brees and the Saints. -Steve Silverman, CBS Local Sports contributor