by Steve Geller, firstname.lastname@example.org,posted Nov 7 2013 7:35AM
Did the Saints really lose that game last week….really? Scary considering only 3 of Jets quarterback Geno Smith's 8 whopping completions traveled beyond the line of scrimmage. WHAT!?
Anyway, this week the 6-2 Saints get the 5-4 Dallas Cowboys in the Superdome in prime time on Sunday night football. What's a little odd about this match-up is the home team hasn't won since 2003. New Orleans is 4-0 in the Dome this year, but that's means nadda. As you will remember, it was the Cowboys back in 2009 that handed the Saints their first loss of the year when the Black & Gold started out 13-0.
This one looks like it's going to be a shoot-out, but everyone thought the same thing about Dallas vs. Philly earlier this season, and that game ended 17-3.
Here's who I'll be keeping an extra eye on in this one:
RB Pierre Thomas
SOMEBODY GET ME A MEDIC! Sproles went down. Colston went down. Both have been able to practice this week, but their contributions are still going to be a question mark. That leaves Thomas, at least to me, as the most reliable and vital contributor not named Jimmy Graham on offense. PT remains the team's best option in the non-existent run game but is also a key factor in the passing attack.
Dallas' defense is ranked 31st out of 32 teams in the NFL, so Thomas should be able to exploit them for plenty of yards after contact & yards after the catch.
The Offensive Line
The entire offensive line is underperforming this season. We've havn't seen the consistency or dominance from the unit that we're accustomed to.
Along with a running game that averages just 80 yards per contest, Brees has been sacked 20 times this season. Each and every one makes me wince.
The unit now faces a Dallas defensive front getting their main man back in DeMarcus Ware, who has sacked Drew 4 times in 4 meetings. If there is a ton of heat on #9 on Sunday night, the trend of the away team winning could continue.
CB Keenan Lewis
This poor soul will likely have the daunting task of matching up against Cowboys WR Dez Bryant since Lewis is the biggest, most physical cornerback on the Saints. Bryant is 6 ft 2, 225 pounds; while Lewis' measurements are 6 ft 1, 208 pounds.
Lewis has been pretty solid this year, while fellow corner Jabari Greer has been the one who has really struggled. This could mean a big night for WR Terrance Williams.
For more on Dez the Destroyer though…see below
WR Dez Bryant
While much has been made of Bryant's outbursts on the sideline, there is no doubt this kid plays with passion and has the ability to take over a game. I'm sure you remember last year when he went off on the Saints for 224 yards receiving and 2 TDs.
Bryant has a rough couple of weeks and now looks to get back to his dominating ways. He will be challenged against the Saints defense, though, which is top 10 in the NFL against the pass.
RB DeMarco Murray
The only reason I highlight Murray is because the Saints run defense has been awful. The Black and Gold are allowing 121 yards on the ground per game to opponents, and Murray is coming into this contest with some confidence.
He missed 2 games with a knee injury, but returned last week and averaged 7.8 yards per carry. For whatever reason, Jason Garett only handed the ball off to him a total of 4 times, but expect the game plan to be a lot different for Dallas after they saw what Chris Ivory did last week.
LB Sean Lee
Football fans, if you don't know this name, you should. Lee has made a ton of big plays this season. He leads the Cowboys with 90 tackles and the linebacker has 4 interceptions, including one for a TD. He also has racked up four tackles for loss, three quarterback pressures, six pass breakups and a fumble recovery.
He's in his fourth year out of Penn State and has great anticipation. Getting DE DeMarcus Ware back in the mix will only make his game better, watch out!