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Sunday, November 4, 2012
W2W4: Cowboys at Falcons

By Calvin Watkins

ATLANTA -- The Cowboys try to end their seven-game Sunday night losing streak with a game against the Atlanta Falcons at the Georgia Dome.

Here's a preview.

The series: The Cowboys have won five of the past seven meetings against the Falcons, including their last meeting at the Georgia Dome in 2006 (38-28). That game is famous for former Cowboys wide receiver Terrell Owens spitting in the face of cornerback DeAngelo Hall. The Cowboys own a 16-8 mark against Atlanta, including two playoffs games, and 14 of the games have been decided by double digits.

Will Dez Bryant play? The Cowboys' talented wide receiver missed a week's worth of practices with a sore hip, suffered in the loss to the New York Giants, but he's listed as questionable for the game. It appears Bryant will play after he participated in the walk-through Saturday morning at Valley Ranch. The Cowboys will miss inside linebacker Dan Connor (neck). Connor will be replaced by Ernie Sims, but expect Orie Lemon to also get some snaps. The Falcons will miss starting outside linebacker Sean Weatherspoon, who's out with an ankle injury. Veteran Mike Peterson will replace him.

The Cowboys need a running game: The Cowboys have struggled with the running game, especially the past two weeks. With DeMarco Murray out for at least this game with a foot injury, the Cowboys will need a banged-up Felix Jones (knee and neck) to carry the run game. However, with Murray out, the Cowboys have rushed for 104 yards the past two weeks after gaining 227 yards in a loss at Baltimore. If Jones struggles with his health during the game, expect Phillip Tanner and Lance Dunbar to get more snaps.

Tony Romo vs. Matt Ryan: During this recent stretch of games, Romo is being asked to carry the offense against some talented quarterbacks. He's got another one to deal with in Ryan. Romo leads the NFL with 13 interceptions, but lots of factors have contributed, including Romo's receivers, who have struggled to make plays for him on contested catches. Ryan is third in passer rating at 103.0 and has led the Falcons to a 7-0 record.

Beating perfect teams: The Cowboys are 3-0 when playing teams that are at least 7-0. The last time the Cowboys defeated a undefeated team was at New Orleans in 2009. Why the Cowboys have succeeded against undefeated teams varies, but this is one game the Cowboys need given they have a road game next week at Philadelphia.