Print and Go Back ESPN.com: Dallas Cowboys [Print without images]

Thursday, October 13, 2011
Five-star answer: Cowboys hold the Pats under 30

By Calvin Watkins

Five-star question: Will the Patriots tie the NFL record of 14 consecutive games with at least 30 points this week?

No.

The Cowboys are the best defense the Patriots have seen this season. Now quarterback Tom Brady will beat up the secondary a little bit if given time, but with Rob Ryan's defensive scheme of mixing coverages and moving his top defensive players around, it should cause Brady some problems.

DeMarcus Ware is the best pass rush threat for the Cowboys. If given one-on-one play against tackles Matt Light and Sebastian Vollmer he should see some success. Ware is getting one-on-one coverage due to Ryan moving him around the line of scrimmage. It will also be interesting to see how guards Logan Mankins and Brian Waters handle nose tackle Jay Ratliff.

He's been double-teamed all season and Ratliff continues to get a strong push to the pocket. On the season, Ratliff has just three quarterback pressures, but that's opened the door for some other players to make plays on the ball such as Sean Lee, the inside linebacker, with a team-leading two interceptions.

And with the pressures the Cowboys put on Brady, safeties Abram Elam and Gerald Sensabaugh could be in play to make plays on pick some passes off.

Besides, the Cowboys perform better after bye weeks a 16-6 record overall, winning five of their last six games. That extra week allows them to prepare and get some injured players healthy.

The defense, especially the secondary, is healthier with Orlando Scandrick (ankle) and Mike Jenkins (shoulder and knee) getting an extra week to get well.