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Cowboys @ Saints: Brandon Weeden Must Unleash This Offense Among Other Things

The Falcons' loss stings but thankfully the Cowboys have two wins under their belt. What's it going to take to get their third against their rival from the bayou?

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

The miscues that ultimately led to the Cowboys' first loss of the season were pretty evident and now they must turn it around quickly if they plan on notching another victory come Sunday night. Here are a few notes to keep in mind as the Cowboys begin their preparation for the showdown in NOLA.

- Ronald Leary and Jeremy Mincey are expected to be available Sunday. Obviously, the defensive line sorely missed Mincey last Sunday and paid for it dearly. La'el Collins has played very well for a rookie guard but having Leary back may be the spark this vaunted offensive line needs.

- The Saints have lost six straight home games and may be have to turn to Luke McCown again this week if Drew Brees can't go despite taking first team reps in practice. Meanwhile, the Cowboys have won 10 straight regular season road games. The Superdome is not an easy environment as "Who-Dat Nation" tends to bring the noise. With Brandon Weeden starting his second game, communication will be important.

- The Saints defense has struggled for the better part of two years now, the Cowboys must take advantage of this. The Saints are the 29th ranked defense, giving up nearly 400 yards a game. They also rank towards the bottom in all major categories including: 26th in run defense (126 YPG), 22nd in pass defense (271 YPG), and 26th in points per game giving up 28 per contest. If the Cowboys can't move the ball early, middle, and late in the game it's on them.

- In my Sunday column before the Falcons game, it was mentioned of how important it was to get Brandon Weeden in a rhythm and the Cowboys did that. However, I also mentioned that dinking and dunking was not the way to win that game. The Falcons give up even more passing yards per game than the Saints but the Cowboys were not able to capitalize on them. With Dez Bryant out, it's imperative that the receivers step up in his absence and so far that has not been the case. Who really had Lance Dunbar penciled in as the Cowboys' leading receiver? So far, these receivers haven't consistently beat their one-on-ones and it has suffocated the offense's ability for the big play. Brandon Weeden needs more help out there and with a porous defense up next, these receivers need to start getting open. Weeden can and will 'let it rip' but the play has to be there for the taking.

- Regardless of whether Brees or McCown get the start, can anyone find a way to bring them down? The pass rush has struggled just as bad as last season when they finished 28th in the league. The Cowboys have only mustered up three sacks this season. It really doesn't matter who lines up under center, if there is no pressure, expect the opposing offense to move the ball with ease. The Cowboys are missing some key components to their defensive line but when Mincey missed the game last week, it seemed as though the wheels fell completely off the bus. The Cowboys must find ways to get pressure and sacks in this game. The Saints are tied for 10th in most sacks given up at seven. If they can't get it together despite not having Greg Hardy, Randy Gregory and Rolando McClain in the game, it will be another long Sunday at the office.

- Dallas entered week three as the top run defense in the league but were completely dominated by Devonta Freeman (considered by many a receiving back). Freeman gashed the Cowboys just about every time he took the field and now the run defense is ranked 10th in the league. The Saints have struggled to run the ball and the Cowboys must turn back to the way they played in Philadelphia. In order for the Cowboys to have chances at victories in the absences of their best players, they cannot afford any more defensive collapses.

- The offensive line needs to get back to dominating in the trenches. They have certainly not been bad but they definitely look a bit rusty from all the time nursing minor injuries in the preseason. Jason Garrett would be wise to take the foot off the conservative brake for a while. The coaches have struggled with adjustments but if the Cowboys jump out to a 14 point lead again, they need to keep the pedal to the metal. It starts with the offensive line who looked back to their old selves in the first half that saw Joseph Randle score three times and almost eclipse his first 100-yard rushing performance. Don't let up because the Saints will give them plenty of opportunities to move the ball.


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