Thursday, December 15, 2011

SATURDAY NFL PREVIEW - DALLAS @ TAMPA BAY


DALLAS @ TAMPA BAY

The Cowboys travel to One Buccaneer Place, the site of Raymond James Stadium and the first of our Saturday games to give us yet another chance to miss an NFL game unless your cable company gets the NFL network.  The Cowboys have lost two straight games in the fourth quarter, yet surprisingly, Tony Romo hasn’t been blamed (at least not in full) for either of them.  He faces a Tampa Bay team giving up almost 29 points per game, and ranked 26th versus the pass.  He's a great play this weekend.  If you witnessed last week’s game you know that the Cowboys fortunes may have changed with the loss of DeMarco Murray, who broke his ankle and is done for the year.  Perhaps the rest (and maybe the loss of the starting job) woke Felix Jones up.  All he did in returning to full-time action was put up 106 rushing yards, and added six receptions for 31 additional yards.  It was just the third 100-yard rushing performance of his career.  The Buccaneers, who have been anything but reliable against the run, should expect to see Jones top 15 carries in order to soften up Tampa Bay’s secondary for play-action passes.  Miles Austin’s return has definitely spelled fewer opportunities for Laurent Robinson, who has had 11 targets the past two games after having double that for the two games prior to that.  However, Romo trusts Robinson, particularly around the goal, so I'd stick him in your lineup.  Jason Witten pretty much vanished in the Giants game, but it would be odd if he were to do so again.  The Tampa 2 defense should leave the middle of the field open, an area that Witten can exploit.  Dez Bryant is also an obvious start here.  For Tampa Bay, Josh Freeman practiced this week, hopefully progressing his shoulder back to close to 100 percent. Mike Williams is back on pace to break his reception total of 65 from last year, but where he’s been a disappointment has been his three touchdowns.  LeGarrette Blount has never faced Dallas, but you saw what Brandon Jacobs did last week, and Steven Jackson was able to put up 70 yards on 18 carries and a score.  I like Blount to have a good day.  Arrelious Benn was unable to practice with his concussion, so that’s one less likely target vulture for Williams and Kellen Winslow. Winslow has two scores against the Cowboys in the past two games and he seems due for one here.  Williams and Blount are must starts, though I’d stay away from Freeman due to shoulder problems and his tendency to throw interceptions.  This is a no nonsense game for the Cowboys -- they are in desperate need of a win.  On that alone, (and with a slightly more talented team) the Cowboys take this one by a field goal.

COWBOYS 28, BUCCANEERS 25