And then there were three. Last week Green Bay joined the ranks of the defeated when they lost to the Chicago Bears. This week the only undefeated teams are the Super Bowl champions: Indianapolis Colts, New England Patriots and Dallas Cowboys.
New England vs. Dallas Cowboys.
When week six of the National Football League season ends another team will fall from the ranks of the undefeated. The undefeated New England Patriots travel to Texas this week to face the undefeated Dallas Cowboys. Last week New England perhaps played their worst game of the season and still beat the Cleveland Browns by 17 points. Dallas escaped with a last second victory over the Buffalo Bills, a game in which Buffalo did more to lose than Dallas did to win. In fact, if Buffalo had been able to recover an
on-sides kick, Dallas would no longer be undefeated.
Give the Cowboys credit for winning. Quarterback Tony Romo threw five interceptions yet still led the Cowboys down the field for a late game touchdown, which put the Cowboys in the position to attempt an on-sides kick. Good teams win games like that. Make no mistake about it the Cowboys are, to this point in the season, the best team in the NFC. They are the only undefeated team and despite the fact that many have said that the Cowboys have played a soft schedule so far, they have won the games they are supposed to win.
The Cowboys come into this weeks match-up with the Patriots ranked eighth in the NFL in overall offense and ranked number two in overall defense. That same defense kept Buffalo close despite the turnovers and allowed the offense and special teams the chance to step up and make plays at the end of the game to give the Cowboys the victory. The Cowboy offense usually over shadows the defense because of stars like Terrell Owens, however, defense wins championships. And the Cowboy defense will have to come up huge on Sunday because the Dallas offense is going up against the number one ranked overall defense in the NFL, the New England Patriots.
The Patriots have playmakers on defense. They are a disciplined veteran defense use to playing in big games and hostile conditions. New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick is known for his defensive genius. Opposing teams can't zero in on what he will do week after week as he changed his plan and scheme and tailor it specifically for the opposing opponent. The Patriots may line up eight or nine players in the box, but it doesn't necessarily mean they are blitzing, they could be dropping three players back into coverage cleverly disguising what they do and keeping the opposing team off balance.
On offense Patriot quarterback Tom Brady has proven time after time that his favorite receiver is the open receiver. Last week Cleveland decided Randy Moss was not going to beat them. No problem, enter Donte Stallworth. It's a true pick-your-poison mentality the Patriot offense has. Take away one weapon and the other weapons will hurt you. This week one of the offensive weapons returns to the field after a two-week hiatus due to injury. Starting running back Laurence Maroney returns as well as starting center Dan Koppen. However it should be noted that although Maroney returns he may or may not be starting as Sammie Morris more than held his own the last two weeks, rushing for over 100 yards in each game he started.
One of the keys for the game will be the New England red zone offense. Although the Patriots have the number one ranked offense in the NFL they have had troubles in the red zone. It has been a combination of questionable play calling and personnel. If the Patriots don't come away with touchdowns and get field goals instead, that may come back to haunt them in this game or catch up to them down the road. Kevin Faulk is a good player however he is not the ideal running back to hand the ball off to in the red zone. Heath Evans, although a big back, does not have the leg strength and drive to muscle his way into the end zone. This is the area where the Patriots truly miss Corey Dillon. Even when the offensive line didn't give Dillon many holes to run through, Dillon often took what was there and did the rest on his own.
The back closest to Dillon on the roster is Sammie Morris. Although Morris is no Corey Dillon, he does hit the hole decisively and has more speed and is a better pass catcher than Dillon.
On the other hand Dallas has a goal line weapon in Marion Barber. Toughness, speed and a "never quit" desire are what Barber brings to the table. The favorite weapon for Romo this year is tight end Jason Witten. Belichick may choose to take Witten out of the Cowboy offense making Tony Romo look out of his comfort zone in the hopes of making a mistake.
A key for the Cowboys is to get pressure on Brady. Dallas' defensive backs are great at run support however, they are a liability in coverage. If Brady has time to throw, it will be a long day for the Cowboys. None of the Cowboys defensive backs can stay with Randy Moss, Wes Welker, Donte Stallworth or Ben Watson. If Brady has time this will also open up the running game. New England will go in 10 to 12 play drives eating up the clock and keeping the Cowboy offense off the field. In my opinion the amount of pressure the Cowboys get on Brady is the key.
I think both teams will make plays; I just believe the Patriots will make more. Dallas should leave the land of the undefeated leaving only the Patriots and Colts as the leagues only unbeaten teams.
Three Keys: ( insider analysis)
Over/ Under: Pats vs Cowboys