Friday, November 13, 2009

Preview of Week #10 of the 2009 NFL Season - Packers v. Cowboys

The Dallas Cowboys come into Green Bay as a three point favorite but have much more momentum then the Packers. Dallas started off their season beating the Buccaneers in Tampa Bay, something the Packers could not muster last week even though the Bucs were 0-7. The Cowboys dropped their home opener in the new Jerry Dome to the Giants. Then the Cowboys rebounded with a win at home over the Carolina Panthers. Instead of building on their momentum they dropped a game on the road to the surprisingly feisty Denver Broncos. Since then the Cowboys have been on a tear wining four in a row (at the Chiefs in OT, home against the Falcons, home against the Seahawks and at the Eagles). What does that all mean? The Cowboys at 6-2 look like a better team then the 4-4 Packers. I will let the other pundits do the traditional game previews, instead I will give you my top ten players for the Dallas Cowboys and some accompanying comments:

#53 - Duke Preston (C): one of GM Ted Thompson's two off-season signings. Such a shrewd move that Thompson cut him before the end of the preseason. Preston is currently the 3rd center on the Cowboys' depth chart. If Preston plays against the Packers on Sunday it is either because of catastrophic injuries or a colossal blowout. Either way, not a good sign if Preston plays.


#10 - Felix Jones/Tashard Choice (RB): the Cowboys hit the running back jackpot in the 2008 NFL draft nabbing Jones (1st round) and Choice (4th round). Although their production has been down in 2009 because of injury, over the long haul the Packers would take either Jones or Choice ahead of Grant.

#9 - Mat McBriar (P): special teams are very important, look at the Packers' last two games. The Packers lost the field position battle against the Vikings and Buccaneers so it is no surprise that both games ended with a Packer loss. Part of the field position battle is decided by punters (I know I am stating the obvious here) but take a quick look at Mat McBriar v. Jeremy Kapinos:
- McBriar: 46.1 yard average (6th) and 41.8 yard net (2nd).
- Kapinos: 44.3 yard average (16th) and 33.5 yard net (30th...very telling).

#8 - Terence Newman (CB): he is getting up there in age (31) but still is a shut down corner. It will be interesting to see if the Cowboys put Newman on Driver or Jennings. Based on production you would think Driver but in 3 WR sets Driver works mostly in the slot which might mean Newman will shadow Jennings. If that is the case, it might be a tough time to get Jennings on track. Packers fans can only hope the challenge of facing Newman will light a fire under Jennings and help him regain his form from the first half of the 2008 season.

#7 - Marion Barber (RB): the main head in the three-headed-running-back-monster for the Dallas Cowboys. Barber runs defenders over (like AP running over William Gay). As a result, Barber might have a shorter NFL career based on his running style but for the time being he providers a powerful hammer to throw at the Packers.

#6 - Jason Witten (TE): he has been Romo's favorite target since taking over the starting quarterback job in 2006. More importantly, Romo's affection for Witten reportedly lead to T.O. becoming disgruntled last season and ultimately the Cowboys cutting T.O. in the offseason. For that reason alone, Witten should be #6 on the Cowboys list, may be even higher. Besides those US Weekly reasons, Witten has produced on the field. Currently Witten is leading the Cowboys in receptions by a wide margin.

#5 - Leonard Davis (RG): at 6'6" and 353 pounds, Davis is one of the biggest and most physical offensive linemen in the NFL. Davis entered the NFL as a guard for the Arizona Cardinals then moved to tackle for a few seasons with little success. When his contract ran out in Arizona, the Cowboys made Davis a huge contract offer to play guard for the Cowboys (seven-year $49.6 million contract, $18.75 million guaranteed). At the time some pundits questioned the contract but after his performance on the field for the Cowboys very few still question the move. An odd fact about Davis, he is an only child but has 21, that's right 21, half-brothers and half-sisters.

#4 - Miles Austin (WR): Roy who? Jerry Jones traded a first, third and sixth round pick to the Detroit Lions for Roy Williams and a seventh-round pick in 2010. Jones then signed Williams to a five-year extension worth $45 million, including more than $20 million guaranteed. After all of that, even 3rd receiver Patrick "I run my mouth too much for being a mediocre WR at best" Crayton has better stats then Williams this season. Sorry for digressing, back to Austin. Austin leads the Cowboys in receiving yards, yards per catch and receiving touchdowns. Austin's coming out party came last season in Green Bay (remember his 115 yards receiving, including a 52-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter, last year in Green Bay). Chuck and Al better have their eyes on Austin. Take last week as an example: Austin did not catch a ball all game till the fourth quarter when he blew the game wide open for the Cowboys with a 49-yard touchdown grab.

#3 - Tony Romo (QB): Socni boy coming home (again). Romo is one of the most likable guys in the NFL, which makes it odd to see him wearing the Cowboys uniform. You can take a guy out of Sconi but you can't take the Sconi out of a guy. Who was the last likable guy on the Cowboys...Roger Staubach?

#2 - Jay Ratliff (NT): by far one of the most underrated players in the NFL. The Cowboys drafted Ratliff in the 7th Round (224 overall) of the 2005 NFL Draft. Ratliff is a beast, he went to his first Pro Bowl last season and followed that up this season with 23 tackles, 5 tackles for a loss, 4.0 sacks, and 1 forced fumble so far this season. The Packers had trouble with Odom and Allen, watch out for Ratliff.

#1 - DeMarcus Ware (ROLB): he is what the Packers hoped Aaron Kampman would be when they moved Kampman to outside linebacker this season. So far...not so much. Ware's stats this season: 30 tackles, 5.0 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, and 1 tackle for a loss. With Ratliff and Ware rushing Rodgers, the "Come to Jesus" meeting the Packers offense had earlier this week better work or Rodgers will be under fire all day.

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