Game Preview: Miami at Dallas

For the seventh time in their history, the Dolphins will be playing on Thanksgiving this year. They'll be coming in with a 5-1 record on turkey day and also are riding a three-game winning streak after this season's 0-7 start. In Dallas, the Dolphins are facing a team that's also a three-game streak. So something will have to give, as we break down the matchup.

WHO: Miami Dolphins (3-7) at Dallas Cowboys (6-4)

KICKOFF: Thursday, 4:15 p.m. ET

SITE: Cowboys Stadium

SURFACE: FieldTurf

TV: CBS, Jim Nantz, Phil Simms

PREDICTION: Cowboys 23-17

KEYS TO THE GAME: The Dolphins' underrated front seven will scheme to take away the Cowboys' most important weapon in RB DeMarco Murray. The chess match is between QB Tony Romo and the Dolphins' secondary. Miami's back four is playing with more confidence but has been riddled by quarterbacks with the bravado to hang in the pocket for receivers to separate. Both tight ends are critical, and Dolphins QB Matt Moore's on-the-move passing often leads him to RB Reggie Bush and TE Anthony Fasano. Dallas' secondary lacks star quality and will double Brandon Marshall unless he lines up in the slot. Bush has been a find in the red zone and his more decisive running has balanced the offense.

FAST FACTS: Romo has 11 touchdown passes and one interception in the past five games. ... Moore is second in the NFL in passer rating behind Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers in November.



--FS Reshad Jones has regained the starting free safety spot, leapfrogging Tyrone Culver on the depth chart. Both safeties played against the Bills, and they likely will split the reps against the Cowboys.

--DE Jared Odrick, who started his fourth game of the season against Buffalo last week, is aiming for his fourth straight game with a sack.

--DE Kendall Langford, who has served as the Dolphins' starting left end for four straight seasons, is being pushed by Jared Odrick for his starting spot. Langford has contributed 14 tackles and one forced fumble this season.

--SS Yeremiah Bell, who has led the Dolphins in tackles for three straight seasons, is 30 tackles away from posting his fourth 100-tackle year.

--CB Sean Smith, who allowed only one touchdown pass in 2010, has given up four this season. Smith is consistently being more targeted than he was the previous two seasons. He's made 42 tackles in 10 games, but Smith has missed a number of tackles this season.

--WR Brandon Marshall caught just one pass for 5 yards in last Sunday's win against the Bills. That was the first time Marshall had ever been held to one catch in his 69 NFL starts.

--OLB Jason Taylor needs one sack to tie Richard Dent and John Randle for sixth all-time in NFL history at 137.5.

--TE Anthony Fasano has already matched last year's touchdown total (four). He needs 22 more catches to catch up with last year's reception total.


--DB Akwasi Owusu-Ansah has been less than stellar since taking over the full-time return duties on kickoffs and punts. However, the Cowboys are not ready to make a change. Coach Jason Garrett said although Owusu-Ansah has not had any explosive plays, he has done a good job fielding the ball. Owusu-Ansah has five punt returns for 26 yards and three kickoff returns for 56 yards in two games.

--CB Orlando Scandrick admittedly had some troubles against the Redskins, committing two holding penalties and giving up a long pass. However, he said overall he played well considering he was on the field for 74 snaps.

"I make two bad plays out of 74 plays, and all of a sudden I played bad," Scandrick said. "Whatever, people going to say what they're going to say.

"I don't think I played great, but I think I made two penalties and allowed a catch. Two bad plays and 23-yard catch, and all of a sudden I can't play no more."

--S Barry Church will start opposite Abe Elam, as Gerald Sensabaugh can't go due to a sprained foot. Church has played in every game this season in sub packages. He has been credited with 23 tackles.

"I feel very ready," Church said. "I have the game plan down pat. The other guys on defense have confidence in me that I can do the job."

--RB Felix Jones only got five carries against the Redskins in his first game back after missing four games with a strained hamstring. Coach Jason Garrett said the team wanted to ease him back into the offense and said his numbers should pick up in the coming games.

--QB Tony Romo has struck the perfect balance of late. He has eliminated turnovers from his game while still making the big play. Romo has eight touchdowns and no interceptions the past three games. He has thrown 126 passes without an interception.

"He's doing a very good job of taking care of the ball," coach Jason Garrett said. "Sometimes guys focus on taking care of the football so they go into a shell and they don't make any plays. They say, 'I'm not making any mistakes,' but you're not really not doing anything either. I think we've all seen Tony strike that balance of not making big mistakes, particularly in relation to the football, which is hard to do in the NFL for a quarterback. Defenses do a great job of causing turnovers to happen."

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