The Dallas Cowboys have yet to secure a playoff position and will play their third straight contest against a fully-loaded defensive team, built to stop any offense. But as we have seen in recent weeks, this Dallas defense is the equal of any in the NFL and will have a great deal to say about the last regular season game ever to by played by the Cowboys in Texas Stadium. If Dallas (9-5, 7-7 ATS) has any intention of making a real Super Bowl run, this becomes a contest they have to have.
While in many cities the closing of a stadium who be big news, in Dallas it is dwarfed by stories about Terrell Owens, his latest supposed feud with Tony Romo and Jason Witten and Jerry Jones calling out players questioning their toughness and than later retracting. Just another day in Big D.
What should be talked about is the Dallas defense, which has allowed 13.8 points per game since the bye week. Since being run over by for 200 yards by the Giants in New York, they have permitted only 68 yards per game and Dallas is 6-0 ATS in home games after allowing 75 or less rushing yards last game.
The team wearing the black jersey’s won’t care about any of the nonsense, they just want to lineup, hit in the mouth, knock you upside the head and see who comes out on top.
Baltimore (9-5, 10-4 ATS) has the league’s second-ranked total defense (257.5 yards per game) and third-ranked scoring defense at 15.2 points a game. The Ravens bottled up Pittsburgh for most of the game, until they were unable to solve the Steelers 92-yard closing drive that resulted in a somewhat controversial touchdown, losing 13-9 with under a minute to play. Those kinds of losses can be devastating to a team and Baltimore is 0-6 ATS after a loss by six or less points over the last two seasons.
Quarterback Joe Flacco struggled against Pittsburgh last week, completing just 11 passes in a 13-9 loss, and has another tough matchup in Dallas. If anything, the play of the Cowboys defense, which has harassed quarterbacks for 53 sacks, including eight of Eli Manning, has at least kept the team in contention for the postseason. But as Flacco’s shown, he does not need to dominate from start to finish. He just needs to capitalize on one or two big plays and let his defense handle the rest. The Ravens have covered four of last five road games.
Bookmaker.com has Dallas as 4.5-point favorite with total of 38.5. This contest will be on the NFL Network starting at 8:15 Eastern.
Keys to the Game-
The Baltimore front seven is going to have to have a huge game. The Dallas running game isn’t as strong as it should be, but the behemoths they have are still capable of wearing down defenses in fourth quarter. Make their blocking schemes uncertain with speed and deception and keep the pressure on Romo to make miscues. Flacco seems to have hit the wall with the long season, as his mechanics have him missing high on passes. Work the passing game in shorter progression to build confidence, otherwise Ravens fall to 2-11 ATS as road dogs of 3.5 to 10 points.
Dallas needs to feed off the emotion of the moment and jump on Baltimore, who would seem incapable of coming from behind with style of play. If Romo gets protection, the Birds secondary is damaged, meaning T.O. could keep quiet, at least for a moment with big plays. Running back Tashard Choice is running hard and effectively, give him the pigskin and the Cowboys close Texas Stadium with five straight wins and covers.