This Sunday night, an angry New Orleans Saints (6-2) team will host the NFC East leading Dallas Cowboys (5-4) in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The New Orleans crowd will be charged up with this being a primetime game against a team who many Saints’ fan view as their second most bitter rival after the Atlanta Falcons.
The Saints will be looking to bounce back after the New York Jets punched them in the mouth while the Cowboys are feeling high and mighty after a come from behind win against the Minnesota Vikings. This game begins a tough 5 game stretch for the Saints which features the San Francisco 49ers, Atlanta Falcons, Seattle Seahawks, and the Carolina Panthers. The Saints will want to kick this off right with a win, and here is how they can.
1) Demarcus Ware vs the Saints’ offensive line
The past two weeks the Saints have been victimized on the offensive line, especially on the edges, by dynamic, athletic pass rushers Mario Williams and Muhammad Wilkerson. Unfortunately, it doesn’t get any easier with one of the best in the business Demarcus Ware coming to town.
Part of the Saints’ problems has come from the lack of balance from the offense which is allowing opposing defensive lineman to just focus on the pass. In addition to that, left tackle Charles Brown need to step up and just play better. Expect Payton to keep an extra blocker in to keep Ware at bay as an upright Drew Brees is the key to any Saints victory.
2) Demarco Murray
The Saints’ defense gave up almost 200 yards rushing to the New York Jet including 139 yard to former Saints Chris Ivory. The Cowboys will be trying to protect a less than stellar defense by pounding the rock with Demarco Murray who was shaking off an injury last week. Though management is saying Murray isn’t their franchise back, he is still very talented and explosive.
The Saints will continue to stay in nickel to try to prevent the big play and will be willing to give up a little bit in the run game. However, last week they were hurt by this strategy. However, if the Saints can get Malcolm Jenkins and/or Roman Harper back this week, they should be able to perform much better against the run than they did last week.
3) Saints Corners vs Cowboy Wide Receivers
The Cowboy receivers are one of the most talented units in the league headlined by superstar Dez Bryant, who lit up the Saints for 224 yards and 2 touchdowns last this they met, and speedy rookie Terrence Williams.
However, The Saints secondary is one of the most underrated units in the league. Keenan Lewis and Jabari Greer have stayed healthy and have played well in every game with the exception of the last one minute of the New England Patriots game. In addition, Corey White has been coming on strong as the third cornerback making plays in his limited amount of the plays. White will probably play a little more this game as the Cowboys use more 3 wide receiver sets which will match up White with Dwayne Harris, the Cowboys’ slot receiver.
4) X Factor: Nick Toon
Nick Toon made an impact last game. Unfortunately, it was for all the wrong reason. He dropped a perfectly placed deep ball and tipped up a ball that led to an interception. But Saints fan, please do not write this guy off. Toon is talented and has pedigree.
With Colston limited or possibly out, Toon is perfect replacement. Kenny Stills in his first regular season outing made similar mistakes, but after he got comfortable he started making plays. Toon will do the same. His big frame and abilities as a possession receiver complement the short and quick Stills perfectly. I expect Toon to get some playing time and make an impact on national television.
5) Under the Radar Matchup: Kenny Vaccaro vs Jason Witten
For all the glamour the Cowboys bring with Bryant, Tony Romo, and Murray, the offense looks to the blue collar, hardworking Jason Witten in tough spots. Similar to the Falcons and Tony Gonzalez, Witten is winning the fight with father time and is still productive.
Rookie sensation Kenny Vaccaro will be locked up with Witten and one can expect Romo to target the rookie. Vaccaro is definitely up to the challenge with his athleticism and versatility. For the Saints to have a chance to contain this offense they will need to take away one weapon and Vaccaro is their best chance to eliminate Witten.