By: Greg Rector
Dallas Cowboys at New England Patriots
Late Sunday afternoon kickoff in Foxboro, MA, where the weather is expected to be cold, and quite likely a windy, wet one as well. Not the ideal way to spend 3 and a half hours or so. The Cowboys will face the defending Super Bowl champions and a team that is chasing history now. The history I refer to is the 20 year run the Cowboys had from 1966-1985 without a losing record. The Patriots just ensured their 19th consecutive winning season, in beating the Eagles last week.
For me, this is a repeat of the game earlier this season against the Eagles. The Patriots will play for 60 minutes, and that must be the same for the Cowboys. It doesn’t mean you need to be perfect, it means you better be paying attention to the details. The Patriots will turn a two-yard loss, into a 7 yard gain. They will do everything possible to win a football game. Brady will be motivated by his frustration over a third game this season where he did not have a TD pass.
Unlike the Cowboys superstar players that were hated by so many during that 20-year run, these Patriots are a football team, there’s really no star except Brady. Do they have a breakout receiver or running back? Not even close, what they do have is a collection of guys that are well-coached, who game plan like no one else, and will make adjustments on the fly. This means that the under-performing Cowboys defense must step up their game. Plain and simple, from Lawrence and the line, the linebackers, and the secondary, it’s going to take the entire unit playing at a high level to win. They showed what their capable of just once this season, Sunday afternoon better be the second time. Brady has not been accurate or efficient this year. I am not saying he is over the hill, he doesn’t have much to work with. Cover the receivers, and absolutely fill the gaps against the likes of Michel, White, and Burkhead, when they run the ball.
Offensively the Cowboys will need to adjust if the weather is a factor. Elliott and Pollard will have to contribute in both running the ball, and the passing game. Prescott and the passing attack should be okay as they haven’t really had to rely on a deep ball all year. Hopefully, they avoid deflected balls and drops with a wet football. Protect the ball or the opportunistic Patriots, will take it away from you, and giving Brady extra possessions is simply asking for trouble.
The biggest area of concern for me is Garrett versus Belichick. That’s a chess master against the court jester. If it becomes a field position battle and time management becomes key, you have to give every edge to the man with six Super Bowl wins. That’s why the younger, faster team in Dallas, must perform at their peak. Don’t give Belichik and Brady any chance at the end of the half or late in the 4th quarter. Control the ball, play efficiently, and don’t try to do too much. It’s the intangibles that always make the Patriots dangerous.
Prediction: The reason I spoke of the Cowboys 20 year run earlier? Easy, because it’s also been 20 years since the Cowboys have beaten the Patriots. Five straight losses, time to stop losing.
Dallas 20 New England 17
You can find me on Twitter @GregCowboys