Today's game vs Tampa Bay is as much of a must-win for Dallas as a game can be a "must-win" in week 8. The Cowboys currently have a half-game lead over the Philadelphia Eagles for 3rd place in the NFC East.
With a loss today, the Cowboys would fall to 4-4 with games on the road in NY and Washington next. Also, the Eagles are 9-point favorites over the Falcons at home. Although the Falcons are playing better than I expected, the Eagles should win that game relatively easily as they get back a healthy Brian Westbrook and Kevin Curtis. So, after today's game, the Eagles are likely to be 4-3.
Heading into today's game, the Bucs are perfect at home (4-0). But they are only 1-2 on the road.
The Cowboys are without Tony Romo again and the soonest he'll be back in week 11 vs Washington.
The Cowboys offensive line (and whole team for that matter) is as talented as any other group in the league. However, they haven't been playing that way. The Cowboys' OL needs to protect Brad Johnson better, but even more importantly, the Cowboys NEED to establish the run early and often. And it all begins with the big boys up front.
If the Cowboys can run the ball effectively, they will take the pressure off Johnson to make plays. Marion the Barbarian needs to run with passion and the reckless abandon that only he can, which will be the sparkplug that ignites this offense.
Wade Phillips is going to take over defensive play-calling. And the defense should focus more on executing a certain, smaller set of plays. Keep it simple.
With their backs against the wall, this is a put up or shut up type of game.
Prediction: Dallas Cowboys 21, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 17