Am I the only one who feels like it has been a month since the last time the Dallas Cowboys were on the field? Maybe having a bad taste in the mouth has something to do with that.
The good news is that the next game is almost here and we finally get to see the 'Boys get back in action. The bad news is that this may likely be the toughest game remaining on the schedule this year. The New England Patriots are one of the premier teams in the NFL, and a perennial challenger for the AFC crown. They have been on the minds of the Cowboys for two weeks.
The SBN site for the Patriots is Pats Pulpit. Time for the weekly look at what's going on over there.
The site is heavy on articles that link to other coverage of the Patriots, and they seem to find everything published anywhere about the team. But some of them have extensive quotes, and the one from 10/12/11 had some lines that show that the New England coaching staff is not dismissive of the Cowboys:
Offensive Coordinator Bill O'Brien on DeMarcus Ware: He's definitely a guy that can affect the game. He's having a really good year. They do a great job, Rob Ryan and his staff, do a great job of moving him around so you really can't get a beat on where he is.
Bill Belichick: I think Jason [Garrett] has done a good job with the team. Rob [Ryan] with the defense. They're explosive in every area of the game. They have a lot of very talented players. We've got our work cut out as far as preparation goes and just becoming familiar with a team that we don't know very much about.
And the 10/13/11 edition has the same kinds of remarks from the players about Rob's Mob:
Tom Brady: As a quarterback you don't just drop back there and hold it and see how long you can hold it all day because eventually they're going to get there.
Logan Mankins: They’re really fast. The d-line’s fast, the linebackers are fast.
More after the jump.
The 10/14/11 version looks at the offense, particularly the receivers.
Both of their tight ends are very good in the pass game. Then they have two receivers that are good at getting vertical but also bigger guys that can catch the ball short and break tackles. Probably on the whole, as a group, it's going to be a very tough challenge.
One thing that is not really pleasing to see is the possible return of the Patriots' defensive signal caller Jerod Mayo:
Mayo injured his knee (MCL) during the game against Oakland and appeared to have sustained a tremendous injury. After the game, it turned out that Mayo looked to be out four to six weeks with an MCL strain. Well, just two weeks later, it appears as if Mayo is ready to get back on the field.
The article goes on to say that he may just be working on getting ready for later in the season, but at this point it is not totally clear if he is trying to play against us or not.
For a good, levelheaded look at the Patriots from one of their fans, you can check out the Thursday Morning 3rd and Long. One concern that I had not picked up on:
BENJARVUS GREEN-ELLIS. PLEASE DON'T HAVE TURF TOE.
I don't think anything could be more devastating than Benny being injured. He's far and above my favorite Patriot (well, maybe tied with Pat Chung), and a crucial part of New England's offensive success. If the Patriots are able to sustain massive time-killing drives in the fourth quarter, the potential to avoid massive amounts of passing yardage being mounted against their contain defense is greatly increased.
The writer also sees the things that make us feel some hope for this game.
Frankly, I'm very worried about this week. Dallas has exactly the assets on paper that are usual foils to the Patriots' success: a high flying offense complete with a great and balanced passing attack, and a defense that has a tremendous pass rush and above average ability to stop the run.
There are, of course, a lot of non-Cowboys topics on the site. One post looks at the emergence of Aaron Rodgers and how he is now being talked about as perhaps the best QB in the NFL. It offers a poll comparing him to the Patriots's own Tom Brady, which, surprisingly to me, had Rodgers in the lead as of late Thursday (I suspect a strong troll factor there). As you can imagine, a site dedicated to Tom Brady's team is going to have something to say in his defense:
However, if somebody asked me which quarterback of the two I'd rather have right now, I'd still go with Brady. He hasn't shown any signs of decline, and he is on track to break NFL records once again this year.
I was interested to see that there are still articles about Spygate going on. Nothing really worth quoting, I just was noticing that it is one of those things that they can't seem to ever leave completely behind. I have some sympathy for them, actually. We have our own topics like that.
Speaking of having some sympathy for a situation, it seems the Patriots have a big name wide receiver they have acquired that isn't working out quite the way they had hoped. The plaintively titled Wherefore Art Thou, Ocho? sees this week as a bit of a make or break for him, and also shows a bit of respect for the Cowboys.
But the clock has been ticking on Ocho for a while now, and I’m starting to think that time is running out. Which is why I think that Sunday’s game against the Dallas Cowboys is Ocho’s chance to prove his value once and for all to the Patriots and their fans.
Dallasis a much better team than their record indicates and will present a major challenge to New Englandon both sides of the ball.
Meanwhile, GO COWBOYS!