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NFL Preview: Cowboys at Tampa

December 16, 2011

QB Romo for Cowboys

It’s a must-win on Saturday night for Dallas, which finds itself currently out of the playoff chase but can still win the NFC East by winning out. Tampa Bay, meanwhile, has lost seven straight and just wants the season over.

It’s that special time of year again, that period when the Cowboys start feeling charitable and begin giving away football games. Giving up two TDs in the final 3 minutes against the Giants will probably result in another giveaway — the division title. The Cowboys have been their own worst enemy. They’ve blown five fourth-quarter leads for losses and lost three games in which they led by more than 10 points. Jason Garrett’s decision-making and the team’s defense have come under scrutiny the past few weeks. Poor clock management and conservative play calling prompted Cowboys fans to ask Jerry Jones whether Garrett’s job was on the line. Jones said Garrett was safe.

The offensive line must keep the pocket clean for QB Josh Freeman, who isn’t 100%, to keep Tampa Bay within striking distance. Dallas’ secondary has holes that are easily exposed when blockers keep LB DeMarcus Ware out of the backfield. The Cowboys lost the focal point of their offense, rookie RB DeMarco Murray (broken ankle), last weekend. RB Felix Jones and newly signed Sammy Morris will step in. Murray, averaging 137.4 rushing yards over the Cowboys’ last five victories and on pace to become the franchise’s first 1,000-yard back since 2006, has been placed on injured reserve.

QB Tony Romo should continue to work inside-out, throwing underneath passes to WR Laurent Robinson and TE Jason Witten before winding up for shots to WRs Miles Austin and Dez Bryant.

Tampa Bay seemed to have a budding star on its hands in 2010 in Josh Freeman, who had 25 touchdown passes and just six interceptions. That ratio has dropped to 12 TDs and a league-high 18 interceptions this year. Freeman returned last Sunday after missing a game with an injured throwing shoulder, but the results were disastrous as the Buccaneers fell 41-14 at Jacksonville. Tampa Bay has allowed the most points in the NFC (370) and has lost four times at by least 19.

Sportsbook Advisor Take: As bad as the Bucs have been lately they will put together a valiant effort here. We like the Cowboys to win but it may be closer than 7. Take the Bucs.


RECORD VS. SPREAD — Dallas 4-8-1; Tampa Bay 4-9

SERIES RECORD — Cowboys leads 11-3

LAST MEETING — Cowboys beat Buccaneers 34-21, Sept. 13, 2009

LAST WEEK — Cowboys lost to Giants 37-34; Buccaneers lost to Jaguars 41-14





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Friday, December 16th, 2011 Uncategorized

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