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coleryan
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Dallas Cowboys at New Orleans Saints: Preview and Pick

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On 11/05/2013 05:18 PM in NFL
Dallas Cowboys at New Orleans Saints: Preview and Pick

The Dallas Cowboys and the New Orleans Saints will be featured in the best Sunday night football game of the season. These two quality teams are racing for a playoff spot and need to win big games, just like this one. The Saints are off a horrific loss to the New York Jets, while the Cowboys beat the Minnesota Vikings. With plenty on the line in this prime time affair, this game will be well worth the watch, and the wager.

Dallas Cowboys at New Orleans Saints Odds

The opening NFL point spread for this game has the Saints listed as (-6.5) point favorites which comes as no surprise because they are a much better team when playing under the dome in the Big Easy. The betting public was not impressed by the lackluster effort put forth by the Cowboys against the Vikings and that caused the early betting to be on the Saints. With over 60 percent of the wagering on the Saints, this line has jumped and can now be found at minus seven at several of the top rated online sportsbooks so make sure to shop around before betting on Sunday night.

The Cowboys will need to establish the run. Despite DeMarco Murray's return, the Cowboys dropped back to pass (including sacks and scrambles) on 87 percent of their plays Sunday, the highest rate in the NFL this season. - Sunday was just the sixth time since the start of 2006 that a team won when dropping back to pass at least 80% of the time (5-90 entering this week). - The Cowboys ran 20 plays out of empty formations Sunday (no skill players in the backfield), their most in a game this season. They will need help on defense too if they want to stop Drew Brees.

The latest football betting trends for this game reveal that both teams have some positive wagering angles for this big game. The Cowboys are 5-1 ATS in their last 6 games after accumulating less than 90 yards rushing in their previous game, 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games after allowing more than 150 yards rushing in their previous game and 5-1 ATS when playing a team with a winning record. The Saints are 5-0 ATS in their last 5 games after allowing more than 150 yards rushing in their previous game, 4-0 ATS in their last 4 games after allowing less than 300 yards passing in their previous game and 20-6 ATS in their last 26 home games.

Dallas Cowboys at New Orleans Saints Pick

With plenty of time to go before the start of the regular season, I will wait to release my pick on this game until we get closer to game day.
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11/06/2013 02:15 PM
The Dallas Cowboys are headed in the wrong direction in their attempts to balance the offense. Sunday vs. the Vikings the Cowboys managed to pull off 9 runs and one of those was a Tony Romo scramble. It was kind of strange because DeMarco Murray ran the ball decently early on and then, presto he was taken out of the plans. He did make some catches out of the back-field but it seemed like he should have gotten some more opportunities to carry the ball.

None of the other running backs have been effective when given a chance and the lack of a running game is killing this offense. These Cowboys have been making some of the worst defenses in the league look stout in recent weeks. They have no rhythm and are lacking any big plays and that includes the passing game. Dallas has plenty of weapons on offense and the offensive line is better than it has been for some-time so this is inexcusable.

The reason that the pass game stinks is because the running game is a joke, there is no threat of the Cowboys running the ball consistently. When they do run it, it is often for a loss or no gain. The Cowboys have to figure out how to get some of these defenders out of the box. Teams are pressuring the Cowboys offense extensively and having huge success. Dallas has to find a way to make these opposing defenses pay, and they have to do it quick.

The only hope they have is to feed DeMarco Murray the ball at least 20 times a game with some sprinkles of Lance Dunbar and Joseph Randle. They need to let Murray get into a rhythm in these remaining games, if he stays healthy that is. This needs to start this weekend against the Saints, their only hope in that game is to get the running game going. They desperately need this in order to get the passing game going.
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11/06/2013 02:21 PM
One of the big side stories in the Dallas Cowboys game this weekend with the New Orleans Saints is the return of Rob Ryan to face the team that fired him at the end of the 2012 NFL season. Ryan is the new defensive coordinator of the Saints, a position he also held in Dallas last season.

When the Cowboys missed the playoffs once again, Jerry Jones said no one was safe, but the one man he targeted was defensive coordinator Rob Ryan. It made no sense, least of which to Ryan, who said he had no idea what he did to get fired and made a joke that he would be unemployed for about five minutes.

It took a little longer than five minutes, but Ryan ended up in New Orleans taking over the defense that was shredded when Bounty Gate almost crippled the team in 2012. So, with Rob Ryan returning to take on the Cowboys, it is interesting to look at the situation from the format of a progress report.

In 2012, under Ryan’s leadership, the Dallas Cowboys ranked 19th in the NFL in total defense while the New Orleans Saints ranked dead last. The Cowboys ranked 19th in pass defense and 22nd in rush defense, so it was clear why Jerry Jones wanted to make a change. The Saints ranked last in rush defense and next to last in pass defense.

After firing Ryan, Jerry Jones hired 73-year-old Monte Kiffin to take over the Dallas defense.

Through the first half of the 2013 NFL season, Dallas ranks ahead of only the Philadelphia Eagles in total defense. The Cowboys rank 31th in pass defense and 25th in rushing defense. They have allowed four different quarterbacks to throw for over 400 yards against them this season. Dallas has dropped in every defensive category under Kiffin and has one of the worst defenses in the NFL.

Under Rob Ryan, the New Orleans Saints, who ranked last in the NFL in 2012, now rank fifth in the league. They have the fourth ranked pass defense and the 20th ranked rushing offense. Under Ryan, who Jerry Jones fired in order to improve the Dallas defense, the Saints went from the bottom of the NFL to become one of the best defenses in the league.

Now, this weekend Tony Romo gets to lead his Dallas Cowboys out onto the field and try to match the Saints point-for-point. The Saints should have no problems moving the ball against the Monte Kiffin defense through the air with Drew Brees at quarterback. It also seems like Ryan might have something special in store for the team that hung him out to dry in 2012.
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11/07/2013 01:41 PM
Rob Ryan famously stated he would be "out of work for like five minutes" when the Dallas Cowboys fired him as their defensive coordinator after last season.

Though he was unemployed for a bit longer than he originally thought, Ryan has helped improve a New Orleans Saints defense that will look to shut down his surging former team Sunday night at the Superdome.

Ryan spent two seasons in Dallas, with his unit ranking 14th in 2011 and 19th in 2012 in total defense. He was let go Jan. 8 after the Cowboys finished 8-8, and with his usual confident swagger said he knew it wouldn't take long for him to land on his feet.

Saints coach Sean Payton hired Ryan on Jan. 24 to help transform a defense that finished dead last in the NFL last season. New Orleans (6-2) ranks ninth this year and has given up 18 points or fewer six times.

Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said there's no animosity between him and Ryan, even though he informed his former coordinator of the decision via phone call.

''I love Rob Ryan,'' Garrett said. ''He is a fantastic person. He is a fantastic coach. And has been for a long time.''

Cowboys who served under Ryan spoke highly of him, though they know his personality and realize this contest will provide some extra motivation. Ryan's current players know that, too.

''Any time a guy gets fired from a spot he's at and he has an opportunity to play them, he wants to prove a point,'' Saints cornerback Keenan Lewis said. ''They know that. We know that.''

New Orleans has been strong against the pass giving up an average of 211.9 yards to rank fifth. That unit will be tested against Tony Romo, who is fifth in the NFL with a 100.0 passer rating - one spot behind Drew Brees' 104.5 mark.

Romo went 34 of 51 for 337 yards and two touchdowns, including a scoring pass with 35 seconds remaining to give the NFC East-leading Cowboys (5-4) a 27-23 win over Minnesota last week.

Dallas has won three of four, and Payton knows slowing Romo will be a difficult task. Payton served as Dallas' assistant head coach from 2003-05 and helped sign Romo, who like Payton is an alum of Eastern Illinois, after he went undrafted in 2003.

"I was there three years working with him, and he has improved each year," Payton said. "He's got a very quick delivery. He's very accurate and studies hard. He's a student of the game and likes playing a lot."

Romo threw for 416 yards and four touchdowns in New Orleans' 34-31 overtime win over the Cowboys on Dec. 23.

"He's having the best year of his career this season," Payton said. "He's been very good in regards to his decision making. He knows pre-snap where he wants to go. He's got a very quick way of getting through his progressions and the ball comes out extremely fast."

Dallas' running game has struggled, though, ranking 27th with an average of 75.7 yards per game. It finished with a season-low 36 last week on only nine attempts.

''DeMarco (Murray) looked like he was going to have a good day, but as it wore on there were some minus runs that got us behind the sticks a little bit,'' Garrett said. ''Hard for us to get in a rhythm. So, when you step back from it and you look at it and say, `Boy, we need to run it more.'''

The Cowboys may want to do that against a Saints defense that ranks 25th allowing an average of 121.3 yards on the ground, including a season-worst 198 in last week's 26-20 loss to the New York Jets.

New Orleans has dropped two of three following a 5-0 start, cutting its NFC South lead over Carolina to one game.

''We're not down,'' linebacker Curtis Lofton said. ''We know the kind of players we have in the locker room and what kind of coaches we have. When we do play efficient football and execute, there's not too many teams that can play with us.''

Payton said his team needs to have more balance offensively, which falls on him. Brees finished 30 of 51 for 382 yards and two touchdowns against the Jets, but he also threw a pair of interceptions while the Saints only ran the ball 13 times.

''We've been a little bit lopsided,'' Payton said of his play-calling. ''Pass protection becomes more manageable when you're running the football and so this gets back to me.''

New Orleans has won seven of the last eight meetings with Dallas after Brees passed for 446 yards and three touchdowns in the last matchup.

Dez Bryant, who caught nine passes for a career-high 224 yards and two TDs last season against the Saints, plans to play Sunday night despite a back injury.
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11/08/2013 02:28 PM
New Orleans Saints defensive coordinator Rob Ryan will cap an interesting past eight days when the Dallas Cowboys pay a visit to the Superdome Sunday night in a matchup between division leaders.

In his first season running the Saints' defense, Ryan has implemented a 3-4 scheme in the Crescent City and the players have adjusted nicely save their effort against the run (25th, 121.2 ypg).

The Cowboys have struggled moving the chains on the ground and Ryan hopes to take advantage of his former employer. Ryan, of course, ran Dallas' defense from 2011-12 and parted ways this past offseason. He eventually signed a deal to spearhead the Saints' defense, which is fifth against the pass (211.9), eighth in points allowed (19.4) and ninth in yards allowed (333.1).

Ryan is coming off an emotional 26-20 loss at the Meadowlands last Sunday against twin brother, Rex, who is the head coach of the New York Jets. The Saints trailed 20-14 at halftime and limited the Jets to six points in the second half. The only problem was that the Saints also scored six points over the final two quarters.

New Orleans allowed 338 total yards and once again struggled to stop the run, as New York running back and former Saint Chris Ivory ran for 139 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries. Ryan's defense did not force any turnovers and registered just two sacks.

Saints veteran linebacker Jonathan Vilma is one of Ryan's best players and wasn't pleased with Sunday's loss, saying the defense has "to get better" and his knee issue is nothing to worry about.

"I wish we could have won the game. I wish I could have made more plays to help the team. Outside of that I feel good," Vilma said. "I think tomorrow will be a good test, and then coming back Wednesday for practice will be a good test to see how the knee feels."

Guess what? The knee doesn't appear to be strong enough to last the season and Vilma was reportedly placed on injured reserve Wednesday. Vilma played just 12 snaps in his first time back on the active roster Sunday. He was one of the four players suspended by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell last year for his alleged role in the Saints' bounty scandal.

New Orleans has lost two of three games since opening 5-0 and leads the NFC South by a game ahead of Carolina. The Saints' upcoming schedule is not a forgiving one, as they are scheduled to play Dallas, San Francisco, Atlanta, Seattle and Carolina.

But first the Saints have to take care of business with the Cowboys. They're hoping the defense shows up in this one. New Orleans recorded just 30 sacks last season, but already has 26 through eight games. Defensive end Cameron Jordan and outside linebacker Junior Galette have six and five sacks, respectively, and cornerback Keenan Lewis has three interceptions. Inside linebacker Curtis Lofton leads the Saints' defense with 75 tackles.

Lofton was asked about the mindset in the locker room and how the Panthers are creeping up in the NFC South because the Saints have lost two of three.

"Well we don't care what any other team does. We don't care where Carolina is at or what they're doing. We care about what we can control, and that's how we play," Lofton said. "If we go out and take care of business, we don't have to worry about any other team. November and December is the time where the real teams start to separate themselves. The great teams separate themselves from the good teams. We know that, and that's what we're going to do."

The Saints are 4-0 at home this season and 14-3 in the last 17 November games.

Meanwhile, the Cowboys lead the NFC East by a game ahead Philadelphia and kept it that way by squeezing out a 27-23 victory over the Minnesota Vikings last Sunday in Big D.

Dwayne Harris' 7-yard touchdown catch with 35 seconds to play lifted the Cowboys, winners in three of their last four games. Tony Romo passed for 337 yards with two touchdowns and an interception while going 34-for-51, while Jason Witten caught eight passes for 102 yards and a score for the Cowboys, who bounced back from a one-point loss in Detroit.

"All wins are big," Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett said. "Every one is big. You only play 16 games and you count the wins up at the end. You have to bring your best every Sunday in this league. We've got to learn from this one, move forward and get ready for New Orleans."

One week after blowing up on the sidelines, Dallas mercurial wide receiver Dez Bryant caught six passes for 64 yards and was flagged for taking off his helmet to argue a penalty. Still, Bryant has emerged as one of the best young receivers in the game and is one of the reasons why Dallas is ninth in passing yards (267.1) and fourth in scoring (28.6). Bryant leads the Cowboys in receiving yards (705) and TD receptions (8). Terrell Owens had a team-record 15 TD catches back in 2007, so Bryant is getting close.

You cannot count out Romo either for Dallas' success. Romo is on pace for his fifth 4,000-yard passing season and already has 20 touchdown passes in 2013. His 100.0 QB rating is one of the best and he will look to exploit a tough New Orleans defense. Since the Cowboys have struggled to run the football, Romo will most likely attempt 45 to 50 passes Sunday.

Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray returned after missing two games with a knee injury Sunday and had just 31 yards on four carries. He has 11 total carries in his last two games played.

The Cowboys will enter the bye week after visiting the Saints, who trail the all-time series with Dallas by a 10-15 count. The Saints recorded a 34-31 overtime win in the last meeting on Dec. 23, 2012, as New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees threw for 446 yards and three TDs with no interceptions. Romo passed for 416 yards with four touchdown strikes and no picks.

New Orleans has a 19-8 record on primetime television since 2006
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11/08/2013 02:29 PM
Brees is on pace for another 5,000-yard campaign and should pick apart a Dallas defense rated 31st in both passing yards allowed (305.2) and total yards allowed (419.2). Brees threw for 382 yards with two scores and two costly picks at the Jets. He also lost vital weapon Darren Sproles to an injury, which appeared to an ankle. Sproles was reportedly being checked for a possible concussion.

"That's tough, because obviously he's a big part of the game plan," Brees said.

Since 2011, Sproles leads NFL running backs with 198 catches, 1,745 receiving yards and 15 receiving scores. He could miss Sunday's game versus Dallas.

Saints wide receiver Marques Colston missed the Jets game with a knee issue and is questionable this week. Colston is 119 receiving yards shy of passing Eric Martin (7,854) for most in franchise history and has posted consecutive 100-yard performances against the Cowboys.

Tight end Jimmy Graham will be up for Sunday's primetime showdown and leads the NFL with 10 receiving TDs. Graham has 746 receiving yards and is on pace to set the record for the position for the NFC South-leading Saints.

"We're 6-2 and in first in the division," Saints head coach Sean Payton said. "We've got a huge game this Sunday. It's Sunday Night Football, a huge game, it doesn't get much better."

Dallas hopes stud linebacker DeMarcus Ware can make a return this Sunday after missing the previous three weeks with a quad injury. According to Cowboys legendary owner Jerry Jones, he believes Ware "is ready" to go at New Orleans.

Ware has missed the only three games of his career after he was hurt Oct. 13 versus Washington. Ware, who has an NFL-best 115 sacks since his rookie season of 2005, had played 134 straight games.

In other injury news for Dallas, wide receiver Miles Austin and cornerback Morris Claiborne are both dealing with hamstring injuries. Defensive tackle Jason Hatcher leads Dallas with seven sacks, while linebacker Sean Lee has a team-best four interceptions and leads his position with 11 picks since 2010.
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11/08/2013 06:58 PM
Wide receiver Dez Bryant says his back’s just fine and he’s listed as probable for the game. Cornerback Morris Claiborne (hamstring), linebacker DeVonte Holloman (neck) and safety J.J. Wilcox (knee) have been ruled out and wide receiver Miles Austin (hamstring) is likely to join them on the inactive list. Defensive tackle Jason Hatcher (neck) will be a game-time decision.

The fleur-de-lys on the side of the Saints’ helmet could be replaced by a question mark this week with wide receiver Marques Colston (knee), guard Jahri Evans (hip), tight end Jimmy Graham (elbow, foot), safety Roman Harper (knee), linebacker David Hawthorne (toe), safety Malcolm Jenkins (knee), defensive end Tom Johnson (hip), defensive end Cameron Jordan (ankle), linebacker Curtis Lofton (hamstring, ankle) and defensive tackle Tyrunn Walker (knee) all earning the designation on Friday’s injury report. Running back Darren Sproles (concussion) should play after being listed as probable.
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