Cowboys vs. 49ers Week 2 Preview: Breaking Down Both Offenses and Defenses

HJ MaiCorrespondent IISeptember 16, 2011

Cowboys vs. 49ers Week 2 Preview: Breaking Down Both Offenses and Defenses

0 of 5

    NFL rivalry games are always something special and Dallas Cowboys vs. San Francisco 49ers used to be the greatest of them all.

    The following is a comparison of both offenses and defenses and why it is still an important game for both teams. 

    Unfortunately, this rivalry has lost its significance due to on-field struggles of both franchises over the last decade. However, for fans of both teams the rivalry still exists.

    The game might be not as important as it was during the early '90s, when Troy Aikman and Steve Young were the guys behind center. But winning or losing on Sunday could define the rest of the season.

Offense: Dallas Cowboys

1 of 5

    The Dallas Cowboys offense played extremely well in Week 1 against the New York Jets.

    Despite losing the game, Tony Romo threw for 342 yards, two touchdowns and that costly interception late in the fourth quarter which led to the game-winning field goal by Jets kicker Nick Folk.

    Romo, who is 1-7 in his last eight starts, also had a fourth quarter fumble in last Sunday’s loss at the Meadowlands.

    The Cowboy’s offensive line was able to compete against one of the statistically best defenses in 2010 and provided its quarterback with enough protection in the pocket.

    Out of the four sacks the Dallas O-line allowed, only one was because of a blown assignment.

    The running game on the other hand is the Achilles heel of the Cowboy’s offense. Running back Felix Jones had 17 carries for a total of only 44 yards.

    The main reason for this was the Jets’ great run defense but worse for Dallas was the inability of the O-line to create some push up front.

    Dallas will win this game if Romo does not turn the ball over and the O-line opens up holes for Jones.

Offense: San Francisco 49ers

2 of 5

    The 49ers’ offense looked sharp and much improved compared to last season.

    In San Francisco’s 33-17 win over the Seattle Seahawks, Niners’ quarterback Alex Smith was 15-20 for 124 yards and most importantly, no turnovers.

    Smith played with a cool head and made good decisions. He played the way you want your quarterback to play—calm, cool, collected.

    In addition, he scored the team’s only offensive touchdown on a one-yard scramble at the end of the first half.

    The offensive line did not allow a sack and dominated Seattle’s defensive line.

    Similar to Dallas, San Francisco’s running game was worrisome. Against a bad Seahawks’ defense, 49ers Pro Bowl running back Frank Gore compiled only 59 yards on 22 carries.

    If the 49ers want to have a shot at beating the Cowboys, head coach Jim Harbaugh has to open his playbook and attack Dallas’ secondary.

    With cornerbacks Terence Newman and Orlando Scandrick out of the game, the Niners’ receiver corps should be able to make some big plays down the field. 

Defense: Dallas Cowboys

3 of 5

    New defensive coordinator Rob Ryan had the perfect game play to stop the New York Jets. His defense was able to put pressure on Jets’ quarterback Mark Sanchez and did not give up any big plays.

    They recorded four sacks and forced two turnovers. Dallas' D allowed only 10 points in the first half.

    However, this all changed when the Cowboys lost their cornerbacks due to injuries. Mike Jenkins, Terence Newman and Orlando Scandrick all had to leave the game or sit out a couple of plays because of injuries.

    This opened holes for Jets wide receivers Plaxico Burress and Santonio Holmes, who capitalized on Dallas' misfortune. On the bright side, the defensive line held the Jets to only 35 rushing yards.

    Nevertheless, without Newman and Scandrick, Dallas’ secondary is highly vulnerable which could cause them big problems against the 49ers on Sunday. 

Defense: San Francisco 49ers

4 of 5

    San Francisco’s defense played particularly well in the first half against the Seahawks, allowing zero points and holding them to only three first downs.

    The offensive line put pressure on ‘Hawks QB Tarvaris Jackson, forcing two fumbles and an interception.

    San Francisco had the sixth best rush defense in 2010 and continued were they left off, holding Seattle to a total of 64 yards.

    The 49ers’ area of concern is their secondary, which allowed two touchdowns. On the second Seahawks’ touchdown play, the secondary allowed a 55-yard catch and run from Seattle’s rookie, Doug Baldwin.

    These holes in San Francisco’s secondary could be deadly against a more experienced and talented wide receiver corps.  

    The 49ers have to hope that Cowboys’ top wide receiver Dez Bryant, who is listed as questionable, will not play on Sunday because their chances to stop him are slim.

Overall

5 of 5

    Offense

    The Cowboys win this category. Their offense is more talented and has an elite quarterback in Tony Romo.

    Dez Bryant, if healthy, seems unstoppable. Even without Bryant, Romo has two prime targets in tight end Jason Witten and wideout Miles Austin.

    Defense

    This category goes to the 49ers. Both teams have strong defensive lines and are able to stop the run.

    Both teams also have big holes in their secondaries. The 49ers only win this category because they will send their top cornerbacks and safeties on the field on Sunday.

    The Cowboys, on the other hand, will miss two of their top cornerbacks due to injuries. 

    Overall 

    The Cowboys are the better team and will win Sunday’s matchup at Candlestick Park.

    The only way the 49ers will win this game is through special teams. If Ted Ginn repeats his outstanding performance from last week, the Niners have a chance at pulling off the upset.