This week, the Denver Broncos face the Dallas Cowboys in Arlington, Texas. Dallas fans, this game is going to hurt. It’s going to hurt a lot. Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning is on a record pace this year, and the Broncos stand at 4-0 atop the division. The Cowboys also lead their division, but with a much less impressive 2-2.
As Dallas fans, we know our team is capable of greatness. We also know the Cowboys are one of the most inconsistent teams in the league. Since Coach Jason Garrett took over we have ended the last two seasons 8-8. Not quite a winning record, but not a losing one.
This season, the Cowboys finally managed to beat arch rivals New York Giants at AT & T Stadium and followed that up with a loss to Coach Andy Reid’s Kansas City Chiefs. And then beat the St. Louis Rams. And then lost to the Chargers.
See the pattern emerging here? One thing keeping Dallas fans suffering at bay is the fact that we lost the last game. So, if the pattern holds true, by some miracle of mathematical mystery, the Cowboys may be the first team to stop Manning and his rampaging Broncos this year.
Wouldn’t that be something? The Cowboys have knocked off unbeaten teams before. In Tony Romo’s rookie year, they defeated Manning and the 9-0 Indy Colts. Three years later they were the first team to beat the 13-0 New Orleans Saints. History could repeat itself.
The Cowboys are also dealing with key player injuries, like so many teams across the league. Dallas has listed wide receiver Miles Austin as doubtful with a hamstring injury. Corner back Morris Claiborne is probable with a shoulder injury. Defensive end DeMarcus Ware is also probable with a back injury.
All of these players have had a hand in the two wins the Cowboys have logged so far this year. Without them, using backups, the hope of winning dims just enough to make Dallas fans sigh over their lunch and pray.
Of course, Manning is not known to lose games like this, against teams like Dallas. Granted, the Cowboys have beaten Manning before (both of them, in fact). This year, with Manning on a roll towards breaking so many NFL records, with his team so in sync they look like a Borg collective, the chances of a hit-and-miss team that Dallas has become, pulling out a win over them is slim to none, at best.
Dallas fans will of course be watching and cheering, and hoping. A victory for Dallas depends on keeping Manning off the field. The man scores touchdowns in his sleep. He is not as mobile as other quarterbacks, so if Sean Lee and company can overpower the Broncos offensive line, we may have a chance to throw him off his game enough to get Tony Romo back on the field. Once there, the Dallas offense must make the most of every down and push for touchdowns. Field goals are not going to beat the Broncos.
Another point that may see Dallas swing a win, is turnovers. If the Cowboys can generate takeovers, this also gets Manning off the field. Capitalizing on those possible turnovers will only be for the good. It is also imperative that the Cowboys protect the ball when they do have it.
This year, whenever Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos came to town, they left with a victory. The catch of being a Dallas Cowboys fan is that we understand the ups and downs of our team. If the Cowboys hold true to the pattern, they will, once again, halt an undefeated team in their tracks. If not, Dallas will go to 2-3, losing two games in a row. Either way, this game is still going to hurt.
Written by: Brandi Tasby