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The Dallas Cowboys will face a very good football team when they take on the Baltimore Ravens next Sunday. Let's take a closer look at why the Cowboys are in for a difficult game.
It's always frustrating when the bye week comes around, but this may have been the perfect time for the Dallas Cowboys to have a week off.
Obviously the offensive line is one of the most important pieces to a winning recipe in the NFL. Right now, we really can't say that the Cowboys have that recipe for success. The offense has become so one-dimensional that the opposing defense knows what is coming. DeMarco Murray does possess superstar potential, but that potential cannot be reached when he is being hit in the backfield before he even makes it to the line of scrimmage.
The lack of a true running game is starting to leak over into the passing game. There is simply no balance on the Dallas offense. Throughout this week Jason Garrett should be attempting to solve the problems on offense, but I don't know how the problems can be solved. The personnel on the offensive line doesn't offer Garrett a solution to what is ailing the running game.
After an embarrassing loss to the Chicago Bears in front of a national audience the Cowboys will travel to Baltimore to take on the 4-1 Ravens. The Cowboys are simply not a good football team right now, but the Ravens are. To make matters worse, the Ravens haven't lost a game at home in the regular season since Week 13 back in 2010.
The Cowboys will face one of their biggest tests of the season when they travel to Baltimore.
The Up-And-Coming Baltimore Offense
The Ravens have been one of the most successful franchises in the NFL recently because they have built a strong home-field advantage. On offense the Ravens will give the Cowboys a very difficult challenge because of their talented running back Ray Rice. Rice is a workhorse running back that does everything well. He can be a serious problem for us if he gets going because his physical running style can milk the clock and keep the Baltimore offense on the field.
Can we consider Joe Flacco to be an elite quarterback yet? I wouldn't put him very high on my list, but Flacco has shown tremendous improvement in his overall game the past few seasons. With Ray Rice becoming one of the best running backs in the NFL, Flacco has begun to work on developing his deep ball. The Ravens were primarily known for their running game, but their passing game is really starting to become a strength for them.
Wide receiver Torrey Smith is beginning to look like one of the elite playmakers in the league. He is the burner type of wide receiver that the Ravens hoped they would get out of Lee Evans, but in his second season Smith has made the Ravens forget that Evans even existed.
Dennis Pitta is another weapon that Joe Flacco has developed a lot of chemistry with. You won't confuse Pitta with Aaron Hernandez or Rob Gronkowski, but Pitta is a versatile tight end who can stretch the field for the Ravens. The Cowboys have vastly improved against tight ends, but Pitta will be one of the better tight ends we face this season.
Even though the Ravens only scored nine points against the Kansas City Chiefs, the Cowboys cannot afford to sleep on this offense at any point in the game next Sunday. The Ravens' offense is on the verge of a breakout season. Rob Ryan will have his work cut out for him and he needs to enter this game with a solid game plan.
Three Playmakers On All Three Levels
This was a theory that I brought up in a FanPost last year. When you think about it, it's actually a pretty simple theory. On defense you have the defensive line, linebackers and secondary. Each area needs to have a guy who can step up and make plays. If a defensive coordinator can find a player who can change the game on each level, then it makes their job a whole lot easier.
The Ravens have one of the best defensive lineman in the NFL with Haloti Ngata. Ngata was a special player in college while at Oregon, and he has been a force in the NFL ever since he entered the league back in 2006. The Ravens really lucked out when he fell to them with the 12th pick of the 2006 NFL Draft because Ngata is a perfect fit for the 3-4 defense. He is a versatile lineman who can play basically any technique you ask of him. His ability to disrupt and take on multiple blockers allows the players around him to make plays.
Ngata has been a dominant force his entire career, and it doesn't look like he is going to slow down anytime soon. With the current state of our offensive line, I don't know how the Cowboys can neutralize the threat that Ngata presents.
Ed Reed also presents a huge problem for Tony Romo. Reed intercepted Romo twice when the two teams met back in 2008. Romo will need to be very careful with his throws deep down the field. Reed spends a lot of time in the film room, so he will be very well prepared for the upcoming game. If Reed picks up on any tendencies or tells, he will use that to his advantage during the game. He just simply has a knack for being in the right place at the right time.
Lardarius Webb is the forgotten man on the Baltimore defense, but he is one of the best cornerbacks in the league. Webb is a ballhawk who can become very physical, and I expect him to give our wide receivers a tough time next Sunday. The Ravens may not be what they used to be on defense, but they are still one of the best in the game.
I wish the Cowboys were getting an easier game after their bye week, but that just isn't the case here. No matter how you look at it, this is going to be a very difficult game for the Dallas Cowboys.