Ravens vs Cowboys
Sunday – 10/14/12
Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium at 1:00pm kicks off an AFC vs NFC battle between the Baltimore Ravens and the visiting Dallas Cowboys. Baltimore has faced off against the Cowboys in only two occasions in the past and both have resulted in wins for the Ravens. The team’s last meeting between the two came 4 years ago in 2008 when the Ravens took it to the Cowboys 33-24.
Baltimore is coming off a nail bitter of a win over Kansas City in the previous week. They escaped Arrow Head stadium with a 9-6 victory which was the first time in 43 regular season games that they failed to score a touchdown. The Ravens will be looking to advance to 5-1 after Sundays game to stay atop the AFC North standings. Ray Rice is coming off his second 100 yard outing of the year and will be looking to make it two 100 yard games in a row.
Dallas is coming off their bye week, which was much needed for them. The last time we saw the Cowboys in action was a 34-18 beat down at the hands of the Bears in which Tony Romo threw for 5 interceptions. The Cowboys are 2-2 coming into week 6 and are in need of a victory to get back to the top of the NFC East.
Let’s take a look at what both teams need to do to secure a win.
What the Ravens need to do to win the game
After seeing Ray Rice rack up over 100 yards last week, look for the Ravens to keep pounding the ball. The Cowboys are giving up only 170 yards of offense through the air, so look for John Harbaugh to be attacking early and often with Ray Rice. If Baltimore can get an early rushing attack established they might be able to break down this stout Cowboys defense. I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see a run heavy attack to start the game and a deep bomb to Torrey Smith at some point in the first quarter to catch the Dallas safeties napping for 6 points. If Rice can get rolling, look for Flacco to have an easier day than he did the previous week against the Chiefs. I don’t see Flacco having two off weeks in a row.
At times this year, the Ravens have had trouble stopping the pass. This week they are playing a Dallas team who loves to throw the ball and uses three wide receiver sets in over half their plays. Ed Reed is going to need to get the Ravens secondary is the proper positions and make a ball hawking play or two to get Romo to think twice where he is throwing the rock. If Reed and the Baltimore D can confuse Romo, which hasn’t been a problem so far this year (8 INTs this year), it should make a 5-1 record that much easier to attain.
What the Cowboys need to do to win the game
I’m sure head coach Jason Garret has reiterated this to his team all week: KEEP THE FOOTBALL! Dallas’ number one objective this week has to be holding on to the football. In their last contest the Cowboys turned the ball over 5 times which is a recipe for losing a football game. And the last team you want to turn the ball over to is the Baltimore Ravens. They are better than anyone in the league at turning those turnovers into points. If the Cowboys want a realistic shot at winning this game, they cannot have more than two turnovers. More than two turnovers will result in a blowout.
Dallas also needs to establish their running game. Through the first four games, the Cowboys have only been able to manage 68 yards per game on the ground. Luckily for Dallas, Baltimore has been giving up an average of 118 yards per game on the ground. If Dallas can put together a rushing game, it will take some pressure off Romo and in turn, limit the turnovers. Look for the Cowboys to really try every way possible to pound the football on the ground and hopefully make it as easy as possible for Romo. If the Cowboys can have a big rushing day, they just might be able to claim victory over a favored Ravens team.
The match-up to keep an eye on Sunday is going to be the Ravens front seven vs DeMarco Murray. After a fantastic rookie year in which he gained over 1,000 yards rushing, Murray is off to a slow start this year. The Cowboys know the run defense of the Ravens has been slipping, but the Ravens know how dangerous of a weapon Murray can really be. Look for Jason Garret to find some intriguing ways to get DeMarco the ball. It will be interesting to see how Harbaugh handles things if Murray gets off to a fast start. If the Ravens D can hold Murray to under 100 yards this should be a pretty easy victory for Baltimore. If Murray does eclipse the 100 yard mark, Dallas could very well be in this game with a chance to win right to the very end.
Dallas is coming off their bye week and should look much sharper that the last time we saw them. Baltimore on the other hand comes into Sunday with a 13 game home winning streak which is best in the league. The Ravens have also been averaging almost 33 points a game and 457 yards a game at home this year. Also Romo might have to hold on field goal attempts this week, and we all know how the last time turned out. With all that said, I’m predicting this one to end with a final score of 31-21 with the Ravens being the victors.