Dallas Cowboys: Keys To Victory Over The Oakland Raiders

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Dallas Cowboys: Keys To Victory Over The Oakland Raiders
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

This Thanksgiving, the NFC East leading Dallas Cowboys take on the Oakland Raiders in what will be a rematch from the preseason, in which the Raiders won 31-10.

Unfortunately for the Raiders, unlike the preseason matchup, the Cowboys starters will be playing the full 60 minutes.

That said, the Cowboys have been struggling for the past couple of weeks—particularly on offense—and the Raiders are fresh off a victory over the AFC South leading Cincinnati Bengals.

Here are the Cowboys keys to victory over the Raiders.

 

Continue to Run the Ball

Offensive coordinator Jason Garrett caught a lot of flak for not running enough in the game against the Packers, and then got it from the other side for running too much against the Redskins.

The key stat from those two games?  The Cowboys lost to the Packers and won the Redskins game.

The Raiders rank 30th in the NFL against the run, giving up an average of 157.7 yards/game.

They also have two of the better coverage corners in the game, in Nnamdi Asomugha and Chris Johnson.  It would make very little sense to challenge these corners when the Cowboys can just ram it down the Raiders' throat.

 

Establish a Passing Game With Short Drops and Quick Passes

The Cowboys are really struggling with the downfield passing game.  Quarterback Tony Romo has a sore back from the Redskins game, the offensive line is banged up and the receivers are dropping passes and aren't getting separation.

The Raiders can watch tape of the past two Cowboys games and see that they can regularly beat the offensive tackles Flozell Adams and Doug Free with a speed rush.

Garrett can help the line and Romo out by calling for quick slants and hitches.  Both Miles Austin and Roy Williams are big-bodied receivers that should be able to get position.

This slows the pressure to Romo and also builds Romo's confidence in the receivers, and vice-versa.

If the Raiders decide to crank of the blitz like they did in the 13-9 win over the Eagles, then the Cowboys should throw in some screens that worked so well in Philly.

 

Don't Allow Big Plays On Defense

The Raiders are absolutely putrid on offense.  They rank 20th in rushing (102.3), 32nd in passing (125), 32nd in total yards (227.3), and 32nd in points (10.6).

The Cowboys lead the NFC in scoring defense (17.5), and the Raiders don't sustain drives very well.  The only way the Cowboys lose this game is if the speedy receivers for the Raiders get behind the secondary and score on big plays.

The Cowboys should be able to play straight up and allow the Raiders' offense to destroy itself with turnovers, penalties and lack of execution.  The quarterback play from Bruce Gradkowski—while better than JaMarcus Russell—isn't threatening enough that the Cowboys need to do anything special on defense.

Stopping the so-so running game and keeping the receivers in front of them should be enough to win the game.

 

Prediction

The Cowboys will get the passing game going after establishing a solid running game, and will win easily, 30-10.

 

 

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