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Cowboys @ Saints Game Preview: Five Players To Watch

The Cowboys need to find a way to come out of New Orleans with a win Sunday night. They may be without some key players, but the Saints are the ones who are vulnerable. Here are five players to keep an eye on Sunday night.

Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

With several players still not available, the Cowboys need to have their players step up. Which guys do you think can deliver a big performance Sunday night?

1. Anthony Hitchens

Last week, the Atlanta Falcons did a fantastic job keeping the Cowboys linebackers out of the play which helped spring Davonta Freeman for several big rushing plays. That won't happen this week. The Saints are not the efficient run blockers that the Falcons are and will have a hard time opening up holes for the Saints running backs. They have only mustered an average of 76 yards per game (27th) this season. This means the Cowboys linebackers are going to have opportunities to make plays. With Sean Lee getting plenty of attention from the Saints blockers, expect Anthony Hitchens to step up and have a big game. Hitchens has averaged about six tackles a game, but don't be surprised to see him reach double-digits in this one.

2. Terrance Williams

Many fans are pleading for Brandon Weeden to throw the ball downfield. Well, Jason Garrett has heard everyone's suggestions and as he is accustomed to doing - he should adjust his game plan to accommodate these recommendations. Okay, maybe it won't go down exactly like that, but it may appear that way because there's a good chance the Cowboys take more shots deep. As Micheal Sisemore pointed out earlier this week, the Saints are struggling on defense and ranked toward the bottom in several categories. One thing in particular, they are the worst in the league in the amount of yards given up per pass play (nine). Brandon Browner appears to be suffering from Byron Maxwell syndrome where he looks exceptional when he plays for the Seahawks, but then completely wets the bed when he's thrown on a defense that has all kinds of problems. Browner is struggling in pass coverage this season for the Saints so the Cowboys might be able to find a way to get a big scoring play from Terrance Williams.

Note: TWilly has scored a big touchdown in each of the last two road games, dating back to the Divisional Playoff game against the Green Bay Packers last season.

3. Ron Leary

Look for the offensive line to have a bounce back game this week for two reasons. First, the Saints have trouble stopping the run. They are ranked 26th in the league, allowing 126 rushing yards per game. Their defense is vulnerable to being pushed around so the offensive line should show up ready to bully them. Speaking of bullies, one of the team's better run blockers should return this week as Ron Leary is expected to play. Nothing against the rookie, La'el Collins, as he's done an admirable job filling in. But having all the regular parts of this position group together should allow them to function more fluently. Tyron Smith almost seemed lost last week without his right-hand-man (literally) standing next to him. Hopefully, these two can help get this running game back on track and help produce the Cowboys biggest rushing output of the season. With the services of Christine Michael being a possibility this week, the Cowboys could use a group effort to put up 200 yards on the ground.

4. The Two Crawfords

Jeremy Mincey will be back in action this week which could mean that Jack Crawford can move away from the edge and go back to the position he is stronger at - defensive tackle. Nick Hayden is the starter next to Tyrone Crawford and he is coming off a performance worthy of an air guitar celebration, as he had two batted balls against the Falcons. But having a solid rotational guy in the middle is going to be nice this week because the Saints interior line has had trouble keeping the pressure off the quarterback. Tyrone is the only Rushman to have a sack this season, but Jack may very well get himself in the books this week.

5. The Flying Dunbar

Rob Ryan likes to bring the pressure. Brandon Weeden likes to get the ball out of his hands quickly. These two things lead to Lance Dunbar assuming his now-normal role of catching a lot of passes. The Falcons were able to stay in front of Dunbar, but the Saints defense won't be so lucky. Look for Lance to get a little shifty on their defenders and break off a huge run. Sometimes you're just a shoestring away from a big play.

Who do you think will be the difference maker on Sunday?


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