Don't look now Cowboys fans, but the best in the NFL is headed to town. The Denver Broncos will arrive this weekend with their sparkling 4-0 record along with the confidence of just crushing other teams. The offense led by Peyton Manning is machine-like in it's efficiency, this is a true juggernaut. Dallas faces long odds of getting back over .500 against the best the NFL has to offer.
Still, I'm giving them a puncher's chance. Why? Well, one reason is eternal optimism and the hope that Dallas can win the next game no matter what the odds, or common sense, has to say. Second, Denver will have to lose sometime, or at least history tells us so - going undefeated is very rare in the NFL. Third, maybe this Dallas team is a little different than previous editions. Maybe they rise up and show they are not just the best of the worst division in the league, but that they can actually matter this season when the post-season comes around.
But those are the fluffy answers. How do you really go about beating the Peyton Mannings? Here's my short recipe for winning.
1. Win the special teams battle. Make your FGs, hit your punts inside the 10, don't let Trindon Holliday go wild. You have to win in this phase of the game or your probably just going to get crushed.
2. You must make Manning uncomfortable in the pocket without relying on the blitz. This is probably the biggest thing you can do. If you blitz Manning you're begging to get burned. If you can get to him with four guys and only occasionally a fifth, then you stand a decent chance of disrupting his offense. And it's not just sacks, it's pressure, making him throw before he's ready.
3. You have to disrupt the receivers early in routes, everything is precision for Manning, you have to throw the timing off by popping the receivers in the 5-yard zone. Manning likes to get the ball out quick if he senses a matchup advantage, you can't allow that to happen.
4. Make every offensive possession count. No turnovers, no drops, no penalties. Whatever you do, play smart football on offense, don't do stupid stuff or you will be made to look stupid. Focus at the task at hand.
1. Score more points than they do.
Easy enough, right? Seriously though, what would be your points of emphasis for Dallas to win?