Dissecting Best Individual Matchups to Watch in Denver Broncos' Week 5 Action
This will be the first time the teams have met since October 2009, a 17-10 Denver win.
The Broncos lead the all-time series 6-5. The last win for Dallas over Denver came 18 years ago.
If the Broncos are to improve to 5-0 on the season, they will need to get the best of some key matchups. Click forward to take a look at them.
Dez Bryant vs. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie
Assuming Champ Bailey is out of the lineup again, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie will be relied upon heavily in this game.
That is a role he has taken well to this season.
With Bailey sidelined for the first four games, Rodgers-Cromartie has stepped up and played very well in his absence, matching up against the opposition's best receiver.
Rodgers-Cromartie has one interception and five passes defensed so far. Against Dallas, he will face his stiffest test to date.
Dez Bryant is easily the biggest playmaker the Cowboys have and he can hurt you in a number of ways.
On the season, 19 of Bryant's 23 receptions have resulted in a first down. He also has caught four touchdowns.
Dallas quarterback Tony Romo will look Bryant's way often, so Rodgers-Cromartie must be prepared.
Eric Decker vs. Morris Claiborne
Thus far this season, it hasn't mattered who is in the secondary against Peyton Manning—he has picked them apart.
Dallas will come into this game ranked No. 27 in the league against the pass and cornerback Morris Claiborne is a player Denver can take advantage of.
According to Pro Football Focus (subscription required), Claiborne comes in at No. 99 in their cornerback grades.
Philip Rivers, who threw for over 400 yards against Dallas, picked on Claiborne often in the Chargers' victory.
This is something Manning will certainly be aware of so Eric Decker or whoever is matched up against Claiborne is in line for a big game.
Peyton Manning vs. Sean Lee
Peyton Manning has been nothing short of unstoppable through four games and is on pace to have one of the best seasons a quarterback has ever had.
For the Cowboys, middle linebacker Sean Lee will be asked to lead his defense in stopping Manning.
Lee is averaging nearly nine tackles per game this season, but his value as a defender is the fact that he is always around the ball.
He has recovered a fumble this season to go along with the interception he returned 52 yards for a score last Sunday against San Diego.
It was the second interception Lee has returned for a touchdown in his career. The first came against Manning in 2010.
Chris Clark vs. DeMarcus Ware
Left tackle Chris Clark did a good job blocking Peyton Manning's blind side in his second consecutive start against the Eagles, but things don't get any easier this week.
DeMarcus Ware is one of the NFL's premiere pass-rushers and the Cowboys have to know that the only way to disrupt the current Denver offense is to get in Manning's face.
Ware already has four sacks this season, giving him 115 for his stellar career.
The inexperienced Clark against the savvy veteran Ware will be a huge key to this game. Clark will likely need some help from guard Zane Beadles in order to keep Ware away from Manning.
Dallas Kick Coverage vs. Trindon Holliday
As if the Denver Broncos aren't already hard enough to defeat, they have one of the game's most dangerous weapons on special teams, as well.
Trindon Holliday has already returned a punt and a kickoff for a touchdown this season and as a member of the Broncos, he already has six returns for scores.
The touchdowns he has scored this season were particularly deflating for the New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles as they marked somewhat of a knockout blow.
If Dallas is to have any chance to win this game, they must not allow Holliday to do what he does best.
To go along with his touchdowns, Holliday is averaging 14.6 yards per punt return this year.
Translation? Kick it away from him, Dallas.