NFC East: Thanksgiving 09
November, 25, 2009
By Matt Mosley | ESPN.com
At the beginning of the season, Cowboys fans circled this game on the schedule as a win. But it doesn't look like the stone-cold lock that it appeared to be a couple of weeks back. The Raiders stung the Bengals with an upset win and the Cowboys hung seven points on the board for the second consecutive week. What are we looking for in this game Thursday? Well, I'm glad you asked:
- The Cowboys are going to have to beat a lot of "press" coverage in this game. Nnamdi Asomugha is one of the best cornerbacks in the league -- if not THE best. He has excellent footwork and he uses his hands and strength at the line of scrimmage to tie up receivers. Miles Austin, Roy Williams and Patrick Crayton must do a better job in this game of getting separation. Quarterback Tony Romo didn't throw the ball well against the Redskins, but the receivers still could've made some plays for him. In Chris Johnson and Asomugha, the Raiders have a couple of cornerbacks who don't mind being physical. The Cowboys need to show some toughness in this game.
- If you watched what the Raiders did to the Eagles, you know they used a lot of stunts and twists along the line of scrimmage to confuse the Eagles' offensive line. It will be imperative for the Cowboys to make sure right tackle Doug Free has plenty of help. It's too early to start leaving him on an island. You better believe that Greg Ellis is going to bring his "A" game against his former team. This is his Super Bowl. If he could sack Romo two or three times, it would make his season. Keep your eye on him throughout the game.
- It's time for Jason Garrett to get the ball to Felix Jones in space. Is it that hard to throw the guy a screen pass? One of those middle screens could be devastating against an aggressive defense like Oakland's. With a team like this, you have to hit it in the mouth early. A long play from Jones could put the Raiders on their heels.
- Whether it's Gerald Sensabaugh or Alan Ball, someone has to cover Raiders tight end Zach Miller. He made the Eagles pay with a long touchdown and he's going to quickly become quarterback Bruce Gradkowski's best friend in this offense. Miller could be a key factor in this game. Someone like Bobby Carpenter better come up and get a shot on him at the line of scrimmage.