New Orleans Saints (7-3) vs. Dallas Cowboys (3-7)
When: Thursday, November 25 at 4:15 pm EST
Where: Cowboys Stadium, Arlington, TX
There are very few teams in the league that are flying as high as the Cowboys are. After a disastrous 1-7 start to the season the Cowboys have won two in a row and are looking to make it three tomorrow. As Thanksgiving approaches, he Boys haven’t had much to be thankful for this season. They’ve lost their star quarterback, changed coaches, and suffered through a very disappointing season. One thing that will make the players and fans feel better is if they can get a win on Thanksgiving over the potent defending Super Bowl champs, the Saints.
This will be the first time that the Saints and Cowboys have met on Thanksgiving. Dallas holds a 27-14-1 record on Thanksgiving and have won their last four. This year will be a lot tougher. The Saints, led by former Cowboys coach Sean Payton, come into this weeks game on a bit of a hot streak. After a slow start the Saints have really turned it on of late winning their last three games and have started to look like their old selves again, that is bad news for the Cowboys, especially their defense.
The Saints have a very potent attack, particularly through the air. Pro Bowl QB Drew Brees is one of the best in the league. He has a great arm and a ton of weapons at his disposal. When the Saints and Cowboys clashed near the end of last season, the Cowboys won because Brees had little time to throw. The Cowboys will have to mirror that blueprint this week, something they haven’t done consistently all season.
The Cowboys are also a team that is looking like it’s old self. Interim head coach Jason Garrett has his team playing at a much different level the last two weeks. While the offense has sputtered at times, it has been the defense that has looked completely different.
For the Cowboys to win they will have to be able to put up a lot of points. One thing is certain, the Saints will score. QB Jon Kitna is going to need to be sharp. The offensive line is going to have to have its best game of the season and allow Kitna to find his receivers. TE Jason Witten will figure to get a lot of catches as the Saints will blitz often trying to get to Kitna. We have seen the last two weeks when Kitna has time to throw he still has a rocket arm. The Cowboys will also need to control the clock by running the ball and keeping the Saints off the field. The Cowboys run game has been awful this year, and hasn’t looked a lot better lately. While it has improved modestly, the Cowboys stats are a little inflated because of a couple big runs. The coaching staff would like to see the Cowboys run more consistently and gain between 4 and 5 yards minimum a carry. Lately, the Boys have been around 2 of 3. Part of the problem has been defenders in the backfield and the Cowboys unwillingness to disguise their play calls. When everyone knows you’re running it makes it tough to get very far.
The Cowboys will be unable to rely on undrafted rookie Bryann McCann to continue to score like he has, but it would be nice if he is able to help solidify the secondary. New Orleans receivers go 5 deep. All guys capable of starting on other teams. The Cowboys will have to play sound football and get some pressure on Drew Brees in order to coral this potent attack. Saints RB Reggie Bush is looking to make his return to the lineup this week, which would give them another weapon.
The most surprising part of the Saints in 2010 has been their defense. They rank fourth in the league in both points allowed and yards allowed. They have the second best pass defense and have been able to generate some key turnovers this season. Look for the Cowboys to try to expose the Saints defense with Jason Witten and Dez Bryant. Bryant has been coming on of late and he has tremendous speed and elusiveness, which the Saints will be mindful of.
The Cowboys face a tough task on Thursday. While Jason Garrett has been able to go 2-0, I doubt he will be able to make it three. Saints will take it 30-21.