Brought to you by: Big Shucks
By Zach Walker
Baltimore Ravens vs Dallas Cowboys
Sunday – November 20 – 12:00 pm
AT&T Stadium – Arlington – Texas
Records Before the Game
Baltimore Ravens (5-4, 2-2 Away)
Dallas Cowboys (8-1, 3-1 Home)
Who do the Cowboys need to shut down?
WR Steve Smith – I’ll be totally transparent, I love Steve Smith, and I call him the “Red Lantern” because he plays with so much rage. He’s been the angriest player in league for the entire length of his hall-of-fame career. I call him a Hall-of-Famer because of everything that he is, has been able to do, and his play. He’s like Michael Irvin with a Napoleon-complex, that he’s juiced into a stiff drink that can buzz you with a whiff. I couldn’t believe that the Cowboys just stuck Anthony Brown on Antonio Brown and just said ‘have it him, kid.’ This is a different baptism by fire, because I assume they’ll just attach Brown to Steve Smith and it’s going to be a different ride for the rookie. Smith is likely to slap Brown around, and really dive into his head. Flacco doesn’t have many weapons, even you consider some good, they certainly aren’t consistent, but Steve Smith is out there and he’s going to be a hand full.
Who on the Cowboys, needs to step up?
QB Dak Prescott – After the speech by Tony Romo, informing everyone that it’s Dak’s job, THE last thing that Dak Prescott can afford to have happen is a slip up this weekend, that essentially has two games, it’s a short turn around to face the division opponent Washington on Thanksgiving. The pressure is both greater and less than ever. Less because he knows how Romo feels about the situation and where he’s at, and greater because it’s now officially his team. Like a lease-to-own sort of thing. I don’t think he’ll take any sort of step backwards, and I really don’t see the whole ‘coming back to Earth’ thing happening. Why? Because I don’t even think he’s close to his ceiling, it’s not like he’s a smoking gun, just firing forty passes a game and tacking four hundred yard games to the board. He’s attacking the games he’s in one play at a time, and really, have you seen him flustered or rattled? How’s that possible for this rookie to just be so damn cool? It’s his time now.
Which group will give the Cowboys fits?
The Ravens’ Front-Seven – I can’t distinguish between which is going to be more of a problem for the Cowboys to work around on offense, the defensive line/pass rush or the run defense within the linebackers, so I’ll do the whole front. Speed in pass rushing isn’t what the Cowboys struggle with most, it’s a power bull rush. Terrell Suggs isn’t going to use a fancy set of moves to get by his opponent, he’s going through. Elvis Dumervil is a great mismatch because though he is speed, with his height and size, he’s really difficult for the lineman across to match him to shut him down. Timmy Jernigan and Brandon Williams (Thanks Ozzie!) aren’t fancy either, they are pure power base players who plug their gaps and force teams to work around them. Lawrence Guy isn’t a slouch either, he’ll make a play go Ravens’ way every few series. Then come the two middle linebackers. CJ Moseley has been the best middle linebacker to come out in the draft since Luke Kuechly and is going to be everywhere that Zeke is likely to be. And Zach Orr is coming back to the Metroplex, where he played college ball in Denton on the Mean Green. He kept that ‘mean’ about his game too. Oh, lastly. If the Ravens wanted to bring a safety in to the box, he’s just an All-Pro multiple times over, because it’s Eric Weddle. If the Cowboys can run on this set-up, I question if they can actually be stopped.
Which group will give the Ravens fits?
The Cowboys’ linebackers – The Ravens have Terrence West at running back, and really only Dennis Pitta at tight end, and the Cowboys’ have Sean Lee to roll out to match. Okay, so Jesse James kind of was made to look pretty good with their lax coverage of him, so I don’t think that’ll be a reoccurrence. Though he isn’t a linebacker, JJ Wilcox will likely have another step-up game like he did in Pittsburgh, where grading on the standard that JJ Wilcox has set for himself, he wrapped up 90 percent better and was a factor in coverage. Justin Durant and Anthony Hitchens are very good in stuffing the run, and they weathered the storm of a very decisive back in Le’Veon Bell and West isn’t that sort of back. I think the Cowboys can really limit the Ravens’ options on offense, by discouraging the run.
What will it take for the Cowboys to win?
It’ll take conquering one seriously awesome defense. What a great pre-Thanksgiving treat of best running game versus epic defense combo to get your wheels warmed up.
Prediction: Dallas 27 – Baltimore 21