Week 16: New Orleans Saints At Dallas Cowboys
- QuarterbackThe on-again, off-again Saints were “on” once again in Week 15 as Drew Brees took apart the vulnerable Tampa Bay Bucs with surgical precision. Brees has once again put up big yardage and touchdown totals this season, but he has not been as consistent as he has been in past season. His 18 interceptions indicate that he will take too many chances.The Cowboys have made significant progress this season and they appear to be a smarter and more disciplined team than they have been in the past. Tony Romo is a much calmer and cooler signal caller than he has been in the past. That has allowed him to play much more effectively when the game is on the line. That’s a big step forward for the talented signal caller.
- OffenseWhen Brees has time to sit back in the pocket, he has a slew of great weapons to choose from who can dominate opposing defensive backs. Wide receivers Marques Colston and Lance Moore are capable of taking apart any defense. Tight end Jimmy Graham has the hands to make tough third-down catches and he is also a solid red zone weapon.The Cowboys have the semblance of a running game when DeMarco Murray is in the lineup. He rushed for 81 yards and a touchdown in Week 15 against the Steelers and that made things much easier for Cowboys receivers. Give high marks to Dez Bryant because he is continuing to remain in the lineup despite a broken finger. He is a dangerous playmaker.
- DefenseThe Saints’ defense has been generous all season, so it was shocking to see them register a shutout against the Bucs. Curtis Lofton has 113 tackles to lead the team. Strong safety Roman Harper has been a hard worker with 108 stops and he also has 12 passes defensed.The Cowboys have been consistent on defense most of the season and that’s the biggest reason the team is sitting in a tie for first place in the NFC East. Linebacker Anthony Spencer is having a sensational season. He has a team-leading 80 tackles and he also has 10.0 sacks. DeMarcus Ware continues to come around the corner with speed. He has 11.5 sacks with two games to go in the season.
- Special TeamsThe Saints are fairly pleased with the performance of their specialists this season. Punter Thomas Morstead has a huge leg and his net average of 44.7 yards per punt has allowed the Saints to flip the field on a regular basis. Placekicker Garrett Hartley has made 15-of-18 field goal attempts this season.The Cowboys have gotten a surprisingly good performance from placekicker Dan Bailey, who has made 27-of-29 field goal attempts this season. He has not missed a field goal of less than 50 yards. Punter Brian Moorman is averaging 44.0 yards per punt, but his net is just 38.6 yards per attempt
The Cowboys are fighting for the NFC East title and if they are going to make the most of their opportunity, they have to make the most of this game against the Saints. While the Cowboys have the edge in motivation, their defense will have to be at its best to contain Brees.