The atmosphere around Cowboys Stadium in Irving Texas will be similar to a heavyweight title bout between the super-talented champion Cowboys and the rugged up-and-coming challenger Ravens.
Last week the Ravens suffered a gut-wrenching loss to the division-leading Steelers and now find themselves fighting for their playoff life against a Cowboys club that that is coming off the their biggest win of the season against the defending Super Bowl Champion Giants.
The key to victory for the Ravens is quite simple; establish the running game. Doing so will take pressure off rookie quarterback Joe Flacco who really struggled last week in the biggest game of his young career. The Ravens also must shut down the Cowboys running game, apply a lot of pressure from the outside on a sometimes careless Tony Romo and on every play account for Cowboys number 94 Demarcus Ware, the hands-down top defensive player in the National Football League.
Since Wade Phillips took a more active role, the Cowboys have played extremely well, surrendering a mere 30 points over the past three games. Last week, the Cowboys took advantage of an ailing Giants offensive line (Rich Seubert - dehydration and Kareem McKenzie – back) and the running game minus leading rusher Brandon Jacobs. Expect much of the same this week against a Ravens offense that bears a strong resemblance to that of the Giants. Get ready for an eight man front, aggressive blitz package and more man coverage in one game then normally seen over the entire season.
The Cowboys special teams, in particular their kick-off team, have played poorly all season and will have to rise to the occasion in this contest. I think they will and believe they (the Cowboys) will triumph in this critical inter-conference battle.
Cowboys 20 – Ravens 10