Sunday, October 19, 2008

Cowboys - Rams keys to the game

The St. Louis Rams were the worst team in the NFL until last week with the exception of the Detroit Lions. Although the Rams beat the Redskins last week, can they pull off back-to-back upsets over superior NFC East opponents? Will Tony Romo, who's not starting but declared back-up for today's game, play?

Here are the keys to the game for the Cowboys according to the Sporting News:
1. Perform well on special teams: The Cowboys' coverage units have been spotty much of the year, but they had a complete special teams meltdown against Arizona. They allowed J.J. Arrington to return the opening kickoff 93 yards for a touchdown, the third kick return of more than 45 yards in the past two games. Dallas also allowed a blocked punt that Arizona returned for a touchdown to win the game. The Cowboys can't hope to win if they're giving up touchdowns on special teams.

2. Keep Torry Holt under 100 yards: Four times this season, the Cowboys have allowed a receiver to surpass 100 yards, so Holt should be looking forward to playing against the Dallas secondary. The Cowboys have allowed at least one 30-yard reception each of the past four games. They're pressuring opposing quarterbacks but not sacking them. The challenge will be greater without top corner Terence Newman (sports hernia) and nickel back Pacman Jones (suspension).

3. Run the ball: The Cowboys' running game has been inconsistent all season. Marion Barber has just one 100-yard game and has reached 80 yards only three times. More concerning is that he has averaged less than 3.8 yards per carry each of the past three weeks. With Johnson filling in as starting quarterback, the running game becomes more important. The Cowboys don't want to put the onus on Johnson to win games. The way to do that is to run the ball.

Here's my prediction for the game: Cowboys 35, Rams 17

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