NFL Picks Week 2: Predicting Dallas Cowboys vs. San Francisco 49ers

Tom Firme@TFirmeAnalyst IISeptember 16, 2011

NFL Picks Week 2: Predicting Dallas Cowboys vs. San Francisco 49ers

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    Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones provided some much-needed encouragement for his quarterback, Tony Romo, saying that he felt Romo did a fine job on Sunday in the Cowboys' loss to the New York Jets.

    That's very nice of Jones, and one can give him the benefit of the doubt and assume that he fell asleep during the fourth quarter.

    Romo played great for three-and-a-half quarters. Then came the fumble at the two-yard line and the interception thrown to Darrelle Revis. Romo blew a 14-point lead for the loss—the first time in franchise history the Cowboys had lost after leading by 14 in the fourth quarter.

    Romo can shake his boots off and start anew this Sunday against the 49ers. He has a chance to boost his ego, provide some fireworks and ease the minds of Cowboys fans.

    The 49ers are coming off of a terrific 33-17 victory against the Seattle Seahawks. Alex Smith quietly put together a decent game, throwing for 125 yards on 15-of-20 passing. Smith ran for a touchdown, avoided throwing an interception, but did fumble once.

    Smith will be in for a challenge against the Cowboys.

    Certain questions loom for the Cowboys/49ers game: Will Romo be fresh and mistake-free against the 49ers? Will Dez Bryant play well despite his thigh injury? Will the Cowboys corner back corps hold up despite its injuries?

Tony Romo

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    24-of-36, 334 passing yards, 4 TDs, 4 rushes, 12 rushing yards

    Romo will be strong against the 49ers. The 49ers might have held Tavaris Jackson to 155 yards passing and intercepted him three times, but that was Tavaris Jackson. Romo is far above the level of Jackson.

    The 49ers had the No. 24 passing defense last year. Although San Francisco is a little bit better than last year, after adding Donte Whitner, they are not greatly improved. Thus, the 49ers won't be a great challenge for Romo. 

    Romo will be able to air it out to Miles Austin and make nice completions to other receivers. Romo should do a fairly decent job of avoiding the passing lanes that Patrick Willis could cloud. This will be a refreshing outing for Romo, one in which he will reassure Cowboys fans a little bit about his ability.

Felix Jones

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    11 rushes, 41 yards

    Felix Jones will see some trouble against the 49ers.

    The 49ers quietly held the Seahawks on the ground, allowing the Seahawks to only gain 64 rushing yards. Jones will have a couple of solid runs, perhaps breaking eight- or ten-yard runs twice.

    However, the 49ers will stuff him well, keeping him mostly to short gains and leaving Jones to struggle with finding open running lanes.

    This will be a tough day for Jones.

Miles Austin

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    8 catches, 111 receiving yards, 2 TD, 3 rushes, 15 rushing yards

    Austin will be strong this Sunday and, despite having an injured knee, he has not been inhibited in practice this week.  

    This is a very good sign for Austin, who is playing through injury for a second-straight week,and will definitely show his resilience. Austin will break loose for big catches, burning Tarell Brown, his likely matchup opponent, for big gains.  

    Romo will pin Austin down for touchdowns twice in this game. Also, Austin will find some space for one or two nice runs.This will be a refreshing game for Austin after a tough matchup against Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie.

Dez Bryant

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    5 catches, 60 receiving yards

    Bryant will likely be slowed down a bit by his thigh injury.

    While Romo will lean more on Austin in this game, Bryant will handle a couple of nice catches. Finding somewhat more freedom against Carlos Rogers, his likely matchup opponent, than he did against Revis, Bryant will take a screen pass for a double digit gain at some point.  

    He will catch one pass for 20 yards. Bryant should be pleased, at least, by the chance to catch his breath—a luxury he was hardly afforded by Revis, save a respite for IV fluid.

DeMarcus Ware

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    6 tackles, 4 solo, 1 tackle for loss, 2 sacks, 2 pass deflections

    DeMarcus Ware will have a field day against Smith. Ware will be constantly on Smith's trail, hurrying Smith several times and grabbing the recommended Sunday amount of sacks for the amount of time he'll spend chasing Smith in the backfield.  

    Ware will force Smith to lose the ball at least once, and will likely step up in passing lanes, swatting a couple of passes. This will be one of the games where Ware truly shows his prowess.

Frank Walker

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    4 tackles, 2 solo, 1 interception, 2 pass deflections

    Frank Walker can't mess up his first Sunday on the job for the Cowboys.  

    Walker, signed on Tuesday to plug the injury-plagued secondary, will jump on a pass when Braylon Edwards isn't paying attention for an interception. That should earn him a bit of approval from Rob Ryan.  

    The Cowboys need someone to step up after the corner backs were burned by LaDainian Tomlinson on long runs after catches in the backfield. Walker will do well, remaining in step with Edwards and covering him well.

Dan Bailey

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    1-2 FG, 4-4 XP

    Dan Bailey had a pleasing debut, hitting his only field goal attempt. This week, he will experience a bit of rookie anxiety and will miss one of his field goal attempts.  

    This won't be a terrible turn for Bailey since it will come in a lopsided affair, but it will be a field goal of reasonable distance that most kickers would be able to make.

    Bailey will shake it off and move on, working to improve his tenacity and refining his kicking stroke.

Prediction

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    Prediction: Cowboys 31, 49ers 10

    The Cowboys will do a much better job hanging on to the lead than they did against the Jets. Further, the 49ers won't keep knocking on the door as the Jets did before they rallied in the fourth quarter.  

    Romo will be successful in the air. Surely, this isn't the type of game that will win praise from suspicious observers who define Romo by games such as the one he had against the Jets. Nonetheless, the success he will have against the 49ers will put him in gear, preparing him for the next important game.  

    The Cowboys defense will have Smith's number throughout the game, dragging Smith into a sub-50 percent completion percentage for the game. To the 49ers' faithful, this will serve as a stiff reminder of the type of expectations they hold for Smith.

    With the win, the Cowboys will climb out of the hole they were in after the loss to the Jets, with the win will also showing the league that this Cowboys team means serious business.