Raiders and Cowboys are being served up on Thanksgiving day. A couple franchises that are as part of the American culture as turkey and dressing. But there just isn’t any middle ground for these two organizations as you either love them or hate them kind of like the pumpkin pie. You are either all in, or you will just pass.
So far this season, Dallas is 0-3 against the AFC West. At 4-7, the Raiders are at the bottom of that strong division.
A look at the match up:
Cowboys Defense/Raiders Offense
The Cowboys will be without their starting CB Morris Claiborne so the Cowboys resigned Sterling Moore who they cut at the end of preseason. I pointed out at that time I thought they needed to keep Moore since Claiborne was injured all preseason and their rookie CB Webb, struggled to cover at the NFL level. BLOG
Maybe I was on to something. I like the move and I think Moore, with his experience, will make them a little better in the secondary.
In their preseason meeting back in August, the Raiders had a lot of success running the ball when QB Terrell Pryor came into the game in the 2nd quarter. He rushed for 31 yards exposing a weakness in the Cowboys run defense. Dallas really hasn’t faced many running QBs in the regular season.
Pryor has missed action with an injured knee but was available for the Titans game last week although he didn’t play. The Raiders seem to be saving him for the Cowboys game and have some “special” plays to feature him in a version of the wildcat formation. McGloin will likely start at QB but I look for Pryor to come in and test the Cowboys run defense which hasn’t been all that good this season.
Pryor has 504 yards rushing this season which includes a 93 yard TD run against the Steelers. Cowboys will need to prepare for the rushing of Pryor for this game. The Raiders have been a much better rushing team than passing team this season as they are 4th in the NFL in rushing but rank much lower in passing.
KEY for Dallas: Defend the run first and make the Raiders become a passing team only. This becomes a bigger challenge as they play without injured LB Sean Lee. Expect Pryor to come in and run the ball. That’s the biggest threat he brings.
Cowboys Offense/Raiders Defense:
The Raiders secondary hasn’t been all that good this season as they are ranked 25th in passing yards allowed. Romo should be able to carve up the Raider secondary (which includes former Cowboy Mike Jenkins) like a hot tender turkey on Thanksgiving. Last week QB Ryan Fitzpatrick went 30 of 42 for 320 yards against the Raider secondary.
In their preseason game, Romo had success finding Dez in the middle of the field just behind the Raider LBs. I look for that to be something they go back to in this game.
The Raiders do a good job defending the run allowing under 100 yards per game. Last week they held Chris Johnson of the Titans to 73 yards which is impressive. He can get that many yards on one run. Running the ball will not come easy for Dallas and they have a strong tendency to just abandon it which often proves to be a mistake.
KEY for Dallas: Dallas will have an advantage passing the ball for sure but will need to keep the Raider defense honest by keeping Murray involved at least. Bryant should have a big game. With Austin back in the line up, it seems to ease coverage on Dez just a little.
Scoring early and getting out in front, will help make the Raiders become a passing team more than a run team. It’s important for Dallas to get the lead and not play from behind.