Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Preview: Cowboys try to Keep Momentum

Their season may be over, but the Cowboys want to end the year on a high note..

Last year, the Cowboys and Cardinals were winners of their divisions and each made it as far as the divisional round in the playoffs. Now, with only 2 weeks to go in the 2010 season, neither team finds itself above .500.

Dallas was favored by many to build on 2009's late season surge and be the first team in NFL history to host it's own Super Bowl. However, a dismal 1-7 start and Tony Romo's broken collarbone crushed the team's hopes. Wade Phillips was fired after a humiliating 45-7 loss to Green Bay and all eyes were turned to next year.

However, the 'Boys have gotten a spark from interim-head coach, Jason Garrett, who's looking well suited to keep his role. Dallas is 4-2 since the offensive coordinator took the reins with victories over the Giants and Colts and close losses to the Eagles and Saints. That's all without their franchise quarterback under center.

Garrett introduced toughness to a team that was, at times, babied by Wade Phillips. He's instituted fully padded practices and a strict dress code on trips to and from road games. Since Garrett has taken over the Cowboys have become a more disciplined team - improving a -7 turnover ratio to 0 since Phillips' firing.

The Cowboys may only be 5-9, but if they were playing like they are now early in the season they could still be in contention for their division.

That's bad news for the Cardinals, whom are dead last in the worst division in football. A division where the winner could realistically be 7-9. The Carolina Panthers may be bad but the Cardinals are worse.

Arizona's defense is ranked 27th in the league in yards allowed (373.8/g), while the Cowboys offense is ranked 7th in the NFL with 369.6 yds/g. If the Cards are going to make the game competitive, they're going to have to keep up with Dallas on the score board, which will prove to be a tough task.

Arizona has shuffled between the pathetic Derek Anderson and two rookie quarterbacks under center and are only putting up 18.1 points a game. One of their most prolific days on offense came against the Broncos a few weeks ago when kicker, Jay Feely, kicked five field goals and ran a fake one in for a touchdown. If a kicker ever becomes a team's best offensive player, it's revealing of some serious issues.

The Cardinals' offensive line has given up 43 sacks this year. That's 3 a game. However, the Cowboys defense is averaging only 2 sacks a game despite boasting pass rushing stud, DeMarcus Ware, who has 11.5 sacks on the season.

The reason the Cowboys have been winning recently has not been because of their defense, which gives the Cardinals a shot. Dallas is currently the 31st ranked defense in the league, giving up 28.3 points a game. Last week they allowed Rex Grossman to throw for 322 yards and 4 TDs, as the lowly Washington Redskins put up 30 points on the Cowboys.

For the Cowboys, a victory isn't a given but it should be expected.

Dallas over Arizona (31-17)

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