Week 15 Cowboys-Saints Preview: A Season at a Crossroads

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Week 15 Cowboys-Saints Preview:  A Season at a Crossroads
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Cowboy Nation, you have to believe. 

There is no team in the NFL that wants the Dallas Cowboys' situation right now. 

Although I am a confessed Philadelphia Eagles fan, I will, for the sake of this article, attempt to refrain from using derogatory nicknames towards the Cowboys.

The Cowboys have a habit of folding in December. 

Ranked as high as seventh in the ESPN NFL Power Rankings as recently as two weeks ago, this week's 20-17 loss to San Diego, compounded with a 31-24 loss to the Giants a week ago at the Meadowlands, has chronicled a fall from grace almost on par with Tiger Woods' public image. 

OK, so I exaggerated just a little.

Without sounding too technical, the Cowboys have two more tests remaining, the latter contingent upon the Cowboys' success and their divisional rivals' failures. 

The first of these tests is a Week 15 matchup against the undefeated New Orleans Saints at the Superdome. 

The Saints are a bewildering 13-0, bewildering because their defense is giving up 21 points a game, 18th in the league, and 347 yards a game, 21st in the league.

Although the Cowboys aren't much better when weighing the significance of Drew Brees' potential offensive contributions (remember, this is the Brees that slices opposing defenses to ribbons), there has never been a bigger stage, or a bigger opportunity, for the Cowboys to turn their season around than defeating the Saints at the Superdome.

The Saints have to work on their defense, otherwise their undefeated streak begins to look fragile. 

When the Patriots finished undefeated in '07, they did it on both sides of the ball, wreaking historic havoc on weak teams, in general. 

After so many close games, the Saints might have to rework an actual, viable defensive strategy so that Drew Brees doesn't break his back carrying his team to victory every week.

The Cowboys have a chance to make champagne pop at the Shula Estate by simply playing their game and bringing pressure to Drew Brees. 

Tony Romo has a triple-digit passer rating the past three games, due in part to the fact that he hasn't thrown an interception since Thanksgiving. 

He has to finish in the end zone, meaning touchdowns, to help back up a Dallas defense that might be without DeMarcus Ware this week.

The Cowboys' defense also have a lot of work ahead of them, having to defend a New Orleans' offense that is gaining a freakish 426 yards a game, due in no small part to their quarterback. 

Which brings us to the silver lining in this week's matchup for the Dallas Cowboys.

Drew Brees is due for another tough game. 

Against strong pass-rushing teams, Brees has an inordinate amount of difficulty. 

In a 46-34 win over Miami, Brees was sacked five times and threw three interceptions. 

The Cowboys will live and die by the pass-rush this Saturday; if they can get to Brees and the usually sturdy offensive line fails, Brees will be in for a long night. 

If that happens, then maybe, just maybe, the Cowgirls can conquer their December demons, stay in the playoff hunt, and turn their season around. 

Cowboy Nation, hold your breath, this could be the season's biggest upset.

 

Key Numbers

Point-Spread.com Pick:  New Orleans -7, 53 1/2 ov 110

My Call:  24-14, Dallas over New Orleans

 

Who's Hurting?

DeMarcus Ware (LB, Cowboys) could be out but is listed as day-to-day after sustaining a neck-injury in the fourth quarter of the Cowboys' loss to San Diego.  If he practices Tuesday, he is probable for Saturday.

Ken Hamlin (S, Cowboys) might return this week against the Saints after suffering a high ankle sprain against the Packers on Nov. 15.

Scott Fujita (LB, Saints) is still out with a staph infection in a ruptured bursa in his knee.

Jabari Greer (CB, Saints) has been ruled out of this week's game against Dallas with a groin injury.

Tracy Porter (CB, Saints) is listed as doubtful with a knee injury.

Marvin Mitchell (LB, Saints) is listed as doubtful with a hamstring injury.

 

Here, check out the full injury reports for the Cowboys and Saints.

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