With a 3-4 record heading into this matchup, the Cowboys have severely underachieved thus far this year. This is following a disturbing trend that has spilled over from Wade Phillips to Garrett.
But momentum is vitally important in the NFL, and a victory on national television over the league’s last unbeaten team would certainly put the wind on Dallas’ back heading into the second half of the season.
Here is what the Cowboys must do to upset the Falcons.
Air it Out Early
Dallas’ best chance in this game will be to grab an early lead.
If the Cowboys can force Atlanta to play from behind, it will amplify DeMarcus Ware’s effectiveness. Ware is still the best pass rusher in the league and has 7.5 sacks this season.
Keeping the noise level down in the Georgia Dome will greatly improve the Cowboys’ chances to win as well.
The drawback to this plan is that it puts a tremendous amount of faith in Tony Romo, who has not performed up to par on many occasions this season. But with DeMarco Murray on the sidelines, as noted by ESPN Dallas’ Todd Archer, trusting Romo is the team’s only option.
If the Cowboys are able to grab the lead, they must not start playing conservatively while trying to protect it.
While the Falcons won both these games, they trailed the Panthers and were tied with the Raiders in the fourth quarter before pulling off late-game heroics to earn victories at home.
The Cowboys must not give Matt Ryan and the Falcons offense the opportunity for another late comeback and need to continue taking chances in order to extend any lead they earn.
This will be the trickiest part of the Cowboys’ path to victory. The team must execute an aggressive offensive gameplan with a the quarterback who currently leads the league with 13 interceptions.
In addition, Atlanta’s 17 takeaways were tied for the fourth-highest total in the NFL heading into this weekend’s games. Safety Thomas DeCoud has been especially effective in the secondary this season and has four interceptions.
But the Cowboys will not accomplish anything impressive this season without Romo leading the way. The team must trust its quarterback, and this is an ideal opportunity for the veteran signal-caller to gain confidence.
If Romo is able to make plays and avoid mistakes in this game, the Cowboys will have a chance not only to upset the Falcons, but also to turn their season around.