New Orleans Saints vs. Dallas Cowboys: Preview and Prediction

Brad Gagnon@Brad_Gagnon NFL National ColumnistDecember 22, 2012

ARLINGTON, TX - DECEMBER 02:  Quarterback Tony Romo #9 of the Dallas Cowboys looks for an open receiver against the Philadelphia Eagles at Cowboys Stadium on December 2, 2012 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
Tom Pennington/Getty Images

The Dallas Cowboys: letting fans down since 1996.

Now, though, with all of the expectations out the window because of a slew of injuries and collapses, the Cowboys have suddenly emerged from rubble to control their own destiny with only two games remaining in the 2012 season.

Can they keep defying the odds and make it six wins in seven games by beating the New Orleans Saints Sunday at Cowboys Stadium? Here's our final preview, along with a prediction.


What Dallas must do to win, offensive edition: Protect Tony Romo the way the team has been doing it in recent weeks. Doug Free needs to keep getting help, and DeMarco Murray has to play a large role. The New Orleans pass rush is sneaky. 

What Dallas must do to win, defensive edition: Just don't let Drew Brees hit any home runs. With all of the injuries the Cowboys have, it's about bending but not breaking.

How Dallas can lose: By falling back into old habits and turning the ball over. 


Five most important non-quarterbacks: Tyron Smith, DeMarco Murray, Brandon Carr, Morris Claiborne, Anthony Spencer

You could go with Smith or Doug Free, but since Free's going to get help, I'll stick with the blind-side tackle. Murray must find room against one of the league's worst run defenses. Carr and Claiborne will have to prevent those home runs, and they'll need help from Spencer and DeMarcus Ware up front.


Injury analysis, Cowboys edition

Out: Jay Ratliff (groin)

Questionable: Kevin Ogletree (illness), Ernie Sims (concussion)

Probable: Dez Bryant (finger), Morris Claiborne (concussion), Felix Jones (knee), DeMarco Murray (foot), Charlie Peprah (foot), DeMarcus Ware (elbow)

Bryant's not 100 percent, but he's still effective. Murray and Ware are getting better each week, it seems, but still aren't 100 percent either. They could really use Ogletree and Sims considering how depleted they are on D, but neither should be considered a game-changer. 


Injury analysis, Saints edition

Out: Jed Collins (knee, toe)

Questionable: Chris Ivory (hamstring), Patrick Robinson (groin)

Probable: Jimmy Graham (wrist), Zach Strief (ankle), Pierre Thomas (knee)

If Robinson plays, New Orleans is really healthy. If he sits, it's a big opportunity for the Cowboys against a defense that is already soft. 


B/R NFC East blog prediction: I've been going back and forth on this one all week. The Saints won big last week and could be looking to make a statement, but that defense has been terrible for much of the season and I like the inspired Cowboys right now. I think they win another thriller with strong play in the fourth quarter.

Cowboys 27, Saints 23