Game Plan and Matchups vs. Cowboys

Check out the game plan and matchups as the Denver Broncos face the Dallas Copwboys.

SERIES HISTORY: 10th regular-season meeting. Broncos lead the series 5-4, but the Cowboys have the lone postseason win. Dallas beat Denver in the Super Bowl at the end of the 1977 season. The Broncos won the last game, at Dallas in 2005, 24-21 in overtime.

GAME PLAN: The Cowboys have the type of offense that can cause a defensive coordinator fits. Dallas has been the best rushing team in the NFL, with a huge offensive line, and not putting an extra player near the line of scrimmage is asking for trouble. But that leaves the secondary vulnerable, and Cowboys QB Tony Romo is able and willing to throw it deep. However, the Broncos need to stop the run first and foremost, and rely on their fantastic positioning in the secondary to contest the deep passing game.

Offensively, this could be the game the Broncos get their vertical passing game going. Dallas has given up many big pass plays this season. Denver respects Dallas' front seven so they might try to spread the field a bit instead of using a power-rushing attack.

MATCHUPS TO WATCH: Broncos LT Ryan Clady vs. Cowboys OLB DeMarcus Ware. It doesn't get much better than this: One of seven players to record 20 sacks in an NFL season against a player who tied a record for not allowing a sack in his first 19 career starts. Clady is massive but has fantastic feet. His athletic ability will serve him well against Ware, who doesn't have a sack yet this season. And Clady should have an edge in the running game. The Broncos might run at Ware early to test him.

Broncos NT Ronald Fields vs. Cowboys C Andre Gurode. These two behemoths will pound on each other all day. Fields doesn't come out often, especially on running downs. He has been a major reason Denver has been so strong against the run, particularly up the middle. If Fields doesn't give much ground, that will allow the inside linebackers to make tackles against Dallas' talented running backs and perhaps slow down the Cowboys' running game.

INJURY IMPACT: LB Spencer Larsen has a shoulder injury and isn't expected back for at least another week or two.

--G Ben Hamilton missed practice Wednesday with a hamstring injury. The injury has lingered and knocked Hamilton out of last week's game, so he'll need to make some improvement to play against Dallas.

--OT Ryan Harris' shoulder injury kept him out of practice Wednesday, but he was close to participating. That's a good sign for his availability this week. If Harris can practice later this week, there's a good chance he'll try to play.

--CB Alphonso Smith has an ankle injury and didn't practice Wednesday. For a player that relies on his quickness, Smith would have to make great strides to return this week.

--RB Peyton Hillis has a head injury, which he suffered against Oakland. He missed practiced Wednesday and the Broncos will continue to monitor his progress through Sunday.

--WR Brandon Stokley practiced on a limited basis Wednesday with a thigh injury. He played, albeit only a few snaps, against Oakland, and should be better this week.



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