NFL Picks Week 1: Predicting Dallas Cowboys vs. New York Jets
The Dallas Cowboys and New York Jets will square off on Sunday at 8:20 p.m. for NBC's Football Night in America. The game between the Cowboys and the Jets will be one of the most compelling games in Week 1.
Storylines are abound for the Cowboys. Tony Romo faces the tough Jets defense in his first regular season back since recovering from a broken collarbone. Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett coaches his first regular season game with the interim tag peeled off of his title. The Cowboys enter the season with a brand new offensive line featuring three new starters. Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan faces his brother, Rex, in his first game in his new job in which he tries to energize a talented, yet often complacent defense. Felix Jones is fully unleashed as the Cowboys starting running back.
How well will the Cowboys fare against the Jets defense? Will the Cowboys defense contain Mark Sanchez?
Following are some predictions for individual players as well as a prediction for the final score.
29-of-42, 372 yards passing, 3 passing TDs, 4 rushes, 10 yards
The best quarterbacks tend to have big games to start the regular season. Romo will be one of those men, lighting up the East Rutherford, N.J. night brighter than the northern New Jersey oil refineries. Romo will have a very accurate performance, delicately reading the coverage by Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie. Revis and Cromartie will challenge Romo, but Romo will launch a couple bombs, connecting on at least one.
He will have to put his trust in his new offensive line as it works through its first regular season game as a group, while adapting accordingly if the blocking breaks down.
The successful night will be the first step towards a successful season for Romo.
9 rushes, 40 rushing yards, 3 catches, 32 receiving yards
The Jets are a fierce team defending the run. They were second team in the league in 2010 in rushing defense. Thus, this will be a major test for Jones. Jones will come stumbling out of the gate for the 2011 campaign.
After a couple of short gains by Jones early in the first quarter, Garrett will shy away from the running game. Occasionally, Garrett will utilize Jones on the ground. At some point, Jones will break away for a 20-yard run. Generally though, the Jets will give Jones little room to run.
This will be a slow start to the season for Jones.
4 catches, 36 yards, 2 rushes, 8 yards, 1 TD
Miles Austin will likely be paired against Revis. The combination of facing Revis and playing with a hamstring injury that he recently aggravated does not bode well for Austin.
Revis will limit Austin greatly, cutting off many of the passing lanes intended for Romo to throw to Austin.
Still, Garrett will find a way to utilize Austin. Running the ball on two end around plays, Austin will find his way into the end zone.
8 catches, 130 yards, 2 TDs
Dez Bryant will have a test on Sunday night. Bryant will get the best of Cromartie in the matchup. Both Bryant and Cromartie are 6'2," which leaves no height advantage for either of them. Both have great speed, but Bryant will have a slight edge. This will give him a little separation. Romo will find Bryant in the end zone twice, including on one deep throw.
Sunday night will be a strong start to a breakout season for Bryant and the Cowboys will see the rise of the next star wide receiver.
5 tackles, 3 solo tackles, 1 tackle for loss, 2 sacks
DeMarcus Ware will have an interesting matchup against Jets left tackle D'Brickashaw Ferguson. Ferguson is big and powerful at 6'6" and 310 pounds. Ferguson may give Ware some trouble. However, Ware will use his speed to get past Ferguson. During this game, Ware will frustrate Sanchez, hurrying him to pass and twice taking him down for sacks. Ware will also have a significant effect on the running game, stopping Shonn Greene and LaDainian Tomlinson short on rushing attempts.
This will be the start of another great season for Ware.
1/1 FG, 4/4 XP
Dan Bailey, an undrafted rookie who won the Lou Groza Award for the nation's best kicker at Oklahoma State University last year, will see a whole new game on Sunday against the Jets. The NFL is much faster and tougher for a kicker.
Bailey will have a nice NFL debut. This will be a somewhat low pressure affair for him. Garrett will simply be looking to see what Bailey can do in the NFL. The Cowboys will have an interesting setup with two kickers.
Cowboys Will Win
Cowboys 31, Jets 20
The Cowboys will have a good start to the season. Romo, Bryant, and Ware will have big games. Other players, such as Jason Witten and Jay Ratliff, will have strong showings as well. The defense will play well in its first game under Rob Ryan. Ratliff will have a major impact stuffing the Jets running game. Ware and Anthony Spencer will frustrate Sanchez, keeping him to a subpar performance. The Cowboys offensive linemen will continue to grow as a group. The group will likely make some mistakes and allow a couple of sacks but, this is part of development of the offensive line.
Overall, Sunday night will be a successful start to the season for the Cowboys. Garrett will be happy to earn his first win as a head coach on the road against a tough Jets team. This win will earn him high marks with Jerry Jones for now.