In a special Thanksgiving day addition of NFL football, the (3-7) Miami Dolphins will head to Dallas to take on the (6-4) Cowboys. Despite being on opposite ends of the standings in their respective divisions, these two teams have some distinct similarities. Both have, wins over the Redskins and the Bills, losses to the Jets and Pats, and are riding 3 game win streaks. The Cowboys are barely clinging to their first place lead in the NFC East, but Tony Romo is lights out in November (18-2), but the last time the Dolphins beat the Cowboys was on Thanksgiving 2003.
What to Watch For:
Cowboy Offense vs. Dolphin Defense:
It is safe to say that the Cowboy offense goes as Tony Romo goes and lately, Romo has been going extremely well. In his last three games/wins, he has had 8 TDs to 0 INTs. That is outstanding for Romo who is know for his Brett Favre, high-risk – high-reward type play. For the Dolphins to be successful, it may be necessary to force Romo to make those mistakes and turnovers that he is prone to. This may not be too difficult as the Dolphins D has had 4 INTs the past two weeks (2 each week). With Cowboys WR Miles Austin still out, it will be imperative for the Dolphins to finally cover a TE. Jason Witten, the Cowboys TE (Romo’s favorite target), has the 3rd most rec. yards (670) and 5th most TDs (5) amongst the leagues’ TEs and both are near the tops of all receivers. Our D has struggled all year covering TEs; including last week when Bills’ TE Scott Chandler led their receiving with 5rec. for 71 yards. Witten is a much better TE then Chandler; which may prove to be a big factor in the game tomorrow.
When it comes to the running game, the Dolphins D has played absolutely lights out. They have climbed up to having the NFL’s 7th rush defense and have given up the 6th, the SIXTH, least amount of points (186). That absolutely baffles me and makes me think of all the blown opportunities we had this season. Sigh, well back to tomorrow (back to the future if you will). It will be interesting to see what the Cowboys’ run game looks like tomorrow. Demarco Murray had been outstanding, until last week, filling in for the injured Felix Jones, but Jones is expected to play tomorrow. What roll will each have? Will it effect their productivity for the better or worse? It might keep them fresh and it’s another factor the Dolphins had to prepare for on a short week.
Dolphin Offense vs. Cowboy Defense:
The Dolphins’ offense averaged 28.7 ppg, Reggie Bush had 4 TDs, and they won the in the last three games. If you would have told me that would happen before week 9, I would have absolutely laughed in your face. But this is what they have done. In last weeks preview, I thought Brandon Marshall would have a big day…well not so much huh, but they did continue to do something I said they should: that is to use the TEs. Last week, both Anthony Fasano and Charles Clay had touchdowns; with Clay and Moore being nominated for offensive players of the week. A few weeks back, I talked about how I liked what I saw so far from Clay and I wanted to see him progress. That is what he is doing. By no means is he a Pro-Bowler yet, but I think he can be a big piece of an offense. Having multiple weapons like Bess, Hartline, Fasano, Clay, Bush, etc., to compliment “BM” really benefits a QB like Matt Moore. I’ll admit, Moore, has played better than I thought he would. I do not think he’s a guy that will go out and win a game for you, but he has done a very good job getting the ball to our play makers. That being said, he will finally play an established defense this week. The Cowboy defense enters the game ranked 13th in pass defense and 11th in rush defense, but much like their QB, have had ups-and-downs.
I think this may be the week that Reggie Bush’s success will be really be tested. Will he be able to continue to run between the tackles, especially on short rest? I would like to say we may be seeing more touches for Daniel Thomas, but his production has really been down and has fallen into the shadow of Bush. This game may call for a more powerful running style; that Bush may not be able to provide on a short week. Dallas’ D also has a +6 mark when it comes to turnovers. It may be very important for the Dolphins to establish their game plan early and be successful. Whether its to run the ball, use multiple targets, or hit some big plays, they need to get it rolling early. Partially, to not get behind, but also to keep Matt Moore in his rhythem. With this Dallas pass rush and defense, its not going to be pretty if we have to go out of our game plan comfort-zone.
Two Minute Drill:
Dolphins’ Key to the Game: A Little Bit of Everything on your Plate: I really like how things have been going for the Dolphins’ offense. For too long, they tried to be a run first offense and everyone knew it. That’s fine, IF your excellent at it, but we weren’t. Last week, 4 different players scored on offense. This makes the defense consider all options and not just focus on stopping the run.
Cowboys’ Key to the Game: Get into the Kitchen: You know how your Mother or Grandmother always want you out of the kitchen when they are cooking? Well, that’s kind of what a QB’s passing pocket is like. Except the Dolphins’ cook(offensive line) let’s everyone into the kitchen. Matt Moore will make mistakes if you put pressure on him and I think this Cowboys’ defense can disrupt all of the Dolphins’ “cooking” tomorrow.
Dolphin’ Player to Watch: Matt Moore. Why not? Let’s see if he can continue his success.
Cowboys’ Player to Watch: DeMarcus Ware. Ware is a grown man and can can wreak havoc on an offensive line, a QB, and an entire offense.
How it plays out: Thanksgiving Treat. If you eat a early or late Thanksgiving feast then this may be your appetizer or dessert. Despite being a touchdown underdogs, I think the Dolphins make this one interesting. As is the case with the majority of Dolphin game (except for the past few weeks) this game will be decided in the 4th quarter.
Prediction: 20-17 Cowboys. I think that Dolphins do play well, but the Dallas defense is able to provide more of a challenge then have have seen lately. Romo has 2 TDs and 1 INT; which is enough to get the job done…unfortunately.
Regardless of the result, I hope you have a fun, tasty, and safe Thanksgiving!
As always, PhinsUp! -John
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