2009 Season

now browsing by category

 

Cowboys Heavily Favored vs. Washington

Although columnists are now warning everyone that Sunday’s game will not be a gimme (shock), nobody has predicted that the Cowboys will lose to the Redskins.

At ESPN, every commentator has predicted that the Cowboys will win. Moreover,  the majority of players in Pigskin Pick’em think that Dallas will cover the 6.5-point spread.

Here’s a look at other predictions:

Dallas Morning News Staff (Average): Dallas 29, Washington 14

It isn’t every week that nobody with the DMN picks the opposing team. All eight columnists/reporters predicted a Dallas win, with the average of the predictions giving the Cowboys a 29-14 win. The big optimist: Gerry Fraley, who noted,

After the failed swinging gate in Monday’s loss to the New York Giants, Redskins’ bag of tricks is empty.

AccuScore: Dallas 27, Washington 21

Dallas won 67% of AccuScore’s 10,001 simulations by an average score of 26.5 to 20.5.

Dallas impressively beat the Saints and they have better than a 60 percent chance of winning another December game in Washington. Tony Romo has a QB rating of 94 with an average of 1.5 TD passes to just 0.6 INTs. If Romo has 2+ TDs and no more than 1 INT the Cowboys have a 74 percent chance to win by an average of 8 points. If Romo has 1+ INTs and the Cowboys hold Marion Barber to under 70 rushing yards then Dallas has just a 44 percent chance of winning.

WhatIfSports: Dallas 24, Washington 16

The Cowboys won 77.4% of WhatIfSports’ Simulations by an average score of 24-16. In these simulations, Dallas had some trouble in the passing game, with Tony Romo averaging only 193 yards. However, the running game had success, as the team averaged 163 yards on the ground.

My Guess (8-6 based on win-loss)

Prior to week 15, the last time I predicted a Dallas loss was during week 7, and the Cowboys game through with a 37-21 win over Atlanta. Last week, I was quite sure that the Cowboys would lose to the Saints:

Frankly, there is no way I am predicting a Dallas win yet again. I don’t see the Cowboys being able to slow down the Saints’ attack, and I think New Orleans will jump out to a lead. Dallas might keep the game close, but Nick Folk will not only miss three field goals but also three extra points.

I wasn’t anywhere close to correct. Folk made his extra point kicks and one of the field goals, though the final field goal miss ended up costing him his job.

As for the season:

Key—
Week: My Prediction (Actual Result)
Week 1: Dallas 34, Tampa Bay 24 (actual: Dallas 34, Tampa Bay 21)
Week 2: N.Y. Giants 17, Dallas 14 (actual: N.Y. Giants 33, Dallas 31)
Week 3: Dallas 31, Carolina 21 (actual: Dallas 21, Carolina 7)
Week 4: Dallas 24, Denver 14 (actual: Denver 17, Dallas 10)
Week 5: Dallas 31, Kansas City 14 (actual: Dallas 26, Kansas City 20)
Week 7: Atlanta 28, Dallas 17 (actual: Dallas 37, Atlanta 21)
Week 8: Dallas 31, Seattle 17 (actual Dallas 38, Seattle 17)
Week 9: Dallas 23, Philadelphia 17 (actual: Dallas 20, Philadelphia 16)
Week 10: Dallas 31, Green Bay 20 (actual: Green Bay 17, Dallas 7)
Week 11: Dallas 20, Washington 6 (actual: Dallas 7, Washington 6)
Week 12: Dallas 30, Oakland 13 (actual: Dallas 24, Oakland 7)
Week 13: Dallas 21, N.Y. Giants 12 (actual: N.Y. Giants 31, Dallas 24)
Week 14: Dallas 27, San Diego 20 (actual: San Diego 20, Dallas 17)
Week 15: New Orleans 30, Dallas 18 (actual: Dallas 24, New Orleans 17)

I have a hunch that the Cowboys will dismantle the Redskins on Sunday night. The Dallas offense will move the ball well early in the game, and the defense will suffocate the struggling Washington offense.

My prediction (and don’t shoot me for this):

personalized greetings

Dallas 31, Washington 0

Cowboys’ Playoff Picture Could Be Pretty Simple (But It Could Be Ugly)

A Dallas win coupled with a Carolina win gives Dallas a playoff berth.

A Dallas win coupled with a Carolina win gives Dallas a playoff berth.

It is very possible for the Cowboys to clinch their fourth playoff berth of the current decade this weekend. It is also very possible that the Cowboys could miss the playoffs altogether. Here is what could happen:

Clinch-a-Berth-One-Week-Early Scenario: Dallas Wins and Carolina Wins

By the time the Cowboys play the Redskins on Sunday night, Dallas will know whether the team can clinch a playoff berth. If Carolina beats the Giants, the Giants will fall to 8-7 and cannot finish ahead of the Cowboys if Dallas wins either of its last two games. New York is favored by 6.5 points over the Panthers.

If Carolina and Dallas both win in week 16, then the winner of the Dallas-Philadelphia game in week 17 will take the NFC East. Even if the Eagles lost to Broncos, Philadelphia and Dallas would enter the game at 10-5, so the winner would take all.

If Carolina wins, the Giants could make the playoffs only if the Packers lost to both the Seahawks and Cardinals. The Giants have a better record against common opponents, so if New York beat Minnesota, the Giants would win the tiebreaker with Green Bay.

The best overall result, as far as the Cowboys are concerned:

Dallas 11-5 (NFC East Champion)
Philadelphia 11-5 (Wildcard)
Green Bay 11-5 or 10-6 or 9-7 (Wildcard)
N.Y. Giants 8-8 (Out)

The Ugly Scenario: Dallas Loses, New York Wins, Philadelphia Wins, and Green Bay Wins

If the Giants beat the Panthers, New York will have a 9-6 record. If Dallas then lost to the Redskins and Philadelphia beat the Broncos, the Eagles would win the NFC East. If Green Bay also beats Seattle, then Green Bay would clinch a playoff berth based on the tiebreaker with the Cowboys. Dallas would then have to beat Philadelphia and hope that Minnesota beat the Giants in week 17.

The  nightmare:

Philadelphia 12-4 (NFC East Champions)
Green Bay 11-5 (Wildcard)
N.Y. Giants 10-6 (Wildcard)
Dallas 9-7 (Out, and all hell breaks loose)

Winner-Take-All (i.e., Dallas-Philadelphia) Scenario: Dallas Wins and New York Wins

If the Cowboys and the Giants both win next weekend, Dallas will be 10-5 and New York would be 9-6. It would not matter whether the Eagles won or lost vs. Denver because the Giants cannot win the NFC East under any circumstance.

Should the Cowboys and Giants both win in week 16, then the winner of the game between Dallas and Philadelphia will take the NFC East.  If Dallas won that game, then the Eagles would take one of the wildcard spots, and the Giants would have to hope to overcome the Packers to take the final spot.

The NFC-East-is-still-the-beast result:

Dallas 11-5 (NFC East Champions)
Philadelphia 11-5 (Wildcard)
N.Y. Giants 10-6 (Wildcard)
Green Bay 10-6 (Out, based on common opponents compared with N.Y. Giants)

Dallas-Steals-a-Spot-Thanks-to-Pittsburgh, Seattle, and-Arizona Scenario

If the Cowboys lose either of the next two games, their playoff chances take a big hit. However, Dallas could lose one of those games and still finish ahead of the Packers for the final wildcard spot, even though the Packers win the head-to-head tiebreaker. Green Bay would have to lose to both Seattle and Arizona for Dallas to slip in as a wildcard ahead of the Packers, so it isn’t likely. However, if it did, Dallas can thank Ben Roethlisberger for completing his last-second touchdown to beat Green Bay last week.

Dallas will not steal a wildcard spot from Green Bay if the Packers win either of their final two games. If Green Bay won one of those games, Dallas would have to win both games to have a chance to finish with a better record than Green Bay. If Dallas did win both games, the Cowboys would be division champions rather than wildcard qualifiers.

The likely-as-winning-a-lottery result:

Philadelphia 12-4 (NFC East Champions)
N.Y. Giants 10-6 (Wildcard)
Dallas 10-6 (Wildcard)
Green Bay 9-7 (Out)

There are some other possible results, and none of these consider the actual playoff seedings. Bottom line: Dallas needs to win both games.

Relative Value Rankings After Week 15

Nick Folk's fall from grace is now complete.

Nick Folk's fall from grace is now complete.

After the Cowboys’ week 7 win over the Falcons, I ranked Nick Folk #24 in the Relative Value Rankings. At that point, I noted:

Folk was automatic again, kicking three field goals. One of the kicks was 46 yards. Solid.

That marked the last time that Folk was either automatic or solid as the kicker for the Cowboys. He was replaced earlier this week by Shaun Suisham, which creates a bit of a quandary for this week’s rankings. Should Suisham be rated higher than #39, which is where Folk was ranked last week? I went the other direction.

In last week’s post, I asked two questions. The first was which Cowboy should be ranked #1, and Tony Romo dominated the voting.

Released: K Nick Folk (#39 last week)

Inactives vs. San Diego: QB Stephen McGee, S Pat Watkins (#34 last week), CB Cletis Gordon, G Montrae Holland, C Duke Preston, T Marc Colombo, LB Curtis Johnson, TE Martellus Bennett

45. Cory Procter, C/G

Last week: 40

vs. New Orleans: Procter didn’t play at all against the Saints. Too hard not to rank him last when he didn’t step on the field (unless he were, of course, the backup quarterback).

44. Shaun Suisham, K

Last week: n/a

I fully realize that this is very harsh, but Suisham is in a tough position this week. He simply cannot miss. On the other hand, he could easily be the hero by making all of his kicks. I am ranking him here just to reserve judgment.

43. Michael Hamlin, S

Last week: 44

vs. New Orleans: The younger Hamlin once again played on special teams, but he did not record a tackle.

42. Pat McQuistan, T

Last week: 43

vs. New Orleans: Unlike Procter, McQuistan played.

41. Steve Octavien, LB

Last week: 42

vs. New Orleans: Octavien did not record a tackle against the Saints.

40. Jason Williams, LB

Last week: 45

vs. New Orleans: Williams had two tackles against the Saints, both on special teams.

39. Jon Kitna, QB

Last week: 41

vs. New Orleans: Kitna still hasn’t played. At this point, we don’t want to see him.

38. Victor Butler, LB

Last week: 35

vs. New Orleans: Butler was supposed to be the fill-in for DeMarcus Ware. He didn’t play as much as expected, though, and also didn’t record a single tackle.

37. Junior Siavii, DT

Last week: 30

vs. New Orleans: Siavii did not record a tackle against the Saints.

36. Jason Hatcher, DE

Last week: 31

vs. New Orleans: Hatcher recorded one tackle in his return to Louisiana.

35. L.P. Ladouceur, LS

Last week: 33

vs. New Orleans: No question that the snapping wasn’t to blame for Nick Folk’s problems.

34. David Buehler, K

Last week: 29

vs. New Orleans: Buehler kicked three of his five kickoffs into the end zone, and two were downed for touchbacks. I dropped him a few spots because he could not provide help in the field goal department.

33. Stephen Bowen, DE

Last week: 25

vs. New Orleans: After a solid game against the Chargers, Bowen did not record a tackle.

32. Deon Anderson, FB

Last week: 32

vs. New Orleans: On a day when nine different Cowboys caught passes, Anderson remained a blocking fullback.

31. Kevin Ogletree, WR

Last week: 37

vs. New Orleans: Ogletree is getting some serious attention after his 17-yard reception that gave the Cowboys the ball at the New Orleans 26 on the team’s opening drive of the second half. He finished with two receptions for 23 yards.

30. Sam Hurd, WR

Last week: 36

vs. New Orleans: Hurd caught his first pass since the Seattle game. He also recorded a tackle on special teams.

29. John Phillips, TE

Last week: 38

vs. New Orleans: Phillips caught three passes in the second half, including a 23-yarder that moved the Cowboys to the New Orleans 22 with less than five minutes remaining. It was a rather unexpected performance, but we’ll certainly take it.

28. Roy Williams, WR

Last week: 14

vs. New Orleans: Williams thinks he should be used more like Larry Fitzgerald. On a 3rd-and-4 play near midfield with his team needing to keep a drive alive, does Larry Fitzgerald drop a pass that hits him in the hands? How about any other “#1 receiver”? Frankly, I’m through with Williams, especially after that play. And to think I ranked him #14 last week!

27. Tashard Choice, RB

Last week: 24

vs. New Orleans: One carry, four yards. He isn’t getting any chances.

26. Alan Ball, S

Last week: 28

vs. New Orleans: Ball did not start at safety with the return of Ken Hamlin. Ball recorded one tackle on special teams.

25. Orlando Scandrick, CB

Last week: 27

vs. New Orleans: Scandrick led the team with seven solo tackles, with several of those tackles coming on short passes over the middle. Scandrick committed a costly penalty in the third quarter when he was called for illegal hands to the face, which negated an Anthony Spencer sack on a third down play. Dallas eventually forced the Saints to punt, though.

24. Bobby Carpenter, LB

Last week: 26

vs. New Orleans: Carpenter recorded two tackles and one pass defense, and a few people thought he had a good game. I thought he got torched by backup tight end David Thomas. Moreover, Reggie Bush ran right by Carpenter on the play when Bush injured his leg.

23. Ken Hamlin, S

Last week: Injured

vs. New Orleans: Hamlin returned from a high ankle sprain to record five solo tackles against the Saints.

22. Marcus Spears, DE

Last week: 20

vs. New Orleans: Spears was around the ball at little bit more than usual, but he only managed to record one assist.

21. Doug Free, T

Last week: 23

vs. New Orleans: Free hurt one drive with a holding call. Romo felt some pressure from his right, but Free was no worse than Flozell Adams in terms of pass protection.

20. Flozell Adams, T

Last week: 21

vs. New Orleans: Flozell was called for a holding penalty along with a facemask penalty. He also tackled Marion Barber in the end zone after Barber had scored (!). On top of that, Will Smith ran right by Adams to sack Tony Romo. Not a great game for Flozell.

19. Patrick Crayton, WR

Last week: 19

vs. New Orleans: Crayton made a great  catch in the first quarter to give Dallas the ball in New Orleans territory at a time when Dallas already led 14-0. Unfortunately, the Cowboys could go no further on the drive. Crayton did not have another catch all game, and his punt returning has been mediocre at best for the past several weeks.

18. Mat McBriar, P

Last week: 12

vs. New Orleans: McBriar averaged only 36.2 yards on five punts, and only one of his punts landed inside the 20.

17. Kyle Kosier, G

Last week: 22

vs. New Orleans: The Cowboys had success running the ball up the middle, thanks in part to Kosier. He also did not commit a penalty.

16. Leonard Davis, G

Last week: 18

vs. New Orleans: See Kosier.

15. Andre Gurode, C

Last week: 17

vs. New Orleans: See Kosier, Davis.

14. Gerald Sensabaugh, S

Last week: 16

vs. New Orleans: Sensabaugh didn’t have a bad game, which was good given his dreadful performance against San Diego. He had one solo and one assist against the Saints.

13. Igor Olshansky, DE

Last week: 10

vs. New Orleans: Olshansky had one tackle against the Saints.

12. Terence Newman, CB

Last week: 15

vs. New Orleans: Newman didn’t let any of the New Orleans receivers get the best of him, which was an improvement over last week. He had three tackles and a pass defense.

11. Felix Jones, RB

Last week: 13

vs. New Orleans: Jones had 14 carries for 57 yards, and several people thought he should have carried the ball more. His kick returns have also improved, as he averaged 30 yards on three returns.

10. Jason Witten, TE

Last week: 6

vs. New Orleans: Witten had five receptions for 44 yards, which has become very typical for him. He also dropped a pass or two and committed an offensive pass interference penalty, though the penalty was declined because the Saints accepted Flozell Adams’ facemask penalty. Witten is turning into much more of a workhorse than a weapon.

9. Bradie James, LB

Last week: 9

vs. New Orleans: James had six solo tackles, one tackle for a loss, and a pass defense. He is quietly doing his job.

8. Marion Barber, RB

Last week: 11

vs. New Orleans: Barber had 17 carries for 62 yards and two short touchdown runs. He ran hard and managed not to pound his chest with every four-yard gain.

7. Jay Ratliff, NT

Last week: 4

vs. New Orleans: Ratliff didn’t manage a tackle or a sack, but he recovered Drew Brees’ final fumble of the game.

6. Mike Jenkins, CB

Last week: 8

vs. New Orleans: Jenkins looks more and more like an elite corner. He recorded three pass defenses against the Saints and picked off Drew Brees to end a drive just after the two-minute warning near the end of the first half.

5. Keith Brooking, LB

Last week: 5

vs. New Orleans: Brooking had five solo tackles and three assists. He nearly had a couple of sacks as well.

4. Anthony Spencer, LB

Last week: 7

vs. New Orleans: The nickname “Almost Anthony” stuck until the Green Bay game. Since then, he has made us forget all about Greg Ellis. His stats against the Saints: five solos, one assist, two sacks, two tackles for losses, three QB hurries, and a fumble recovery.

3. Miles Austin, WR

Last week: 3

vs. New Orleans: On a national stage, Austin showed he was just as dangerous as all the weapons on the field. He had 7 receptions for 139 yards and a touchdown.

2. DeMarcus Ware, LB

Last week: 1

vs. New Orleans: Ware’s recovery from a neck sprain may turn out to be the stuff of legend. He picked up two huge sacks and caused two huge fumbles.

1. Tony Romo, QB

Last week: 2

vs. New Orleans: Tip of the hat to those who voted last week. As great as Ware was last week, Romo deserves the #1 spot for a week. He recorded his 23rd career 300-yard game, including his seventh of the 2009 season.

[polldaddy poll=2425370]

Cowboys Replace Folk with Suisham

The Cowboys on Monday cut kicker Nick Folk and replaced him with former Redskin kicker Shaun Suisham. The move made some wonder why Dallas replaced Folk with a kicker who had similar problems earlier this season.

Suisham kicked for Dallas in three games in 2005 and 2006. He replaced Jose Cortez in week 8 in 2005 and then later replaced Billy Cundiff for week 16. Suisham also filled in for an injured Mike Vanderjagt to open the 2006 season. In three games, Suisham made 4 of 6 field goal attempts.

Washington picked up Suisham midway through the 2006 season. In parts of four seasons, he made 81 of 101 attempts.

Dallas drafted Folk in the sixth round of the 2007 draft. He became the first true kicker that the Cowboys have ever drafted, and the move appeared to pay off, as Folk made the Pro Bowl in 2007.

Folk underwent off-season hip surgery after a 2008 campaign during which he was great on field goals but weak on kickoffs. Dallas drafted yet another kicker in 2009 by picking up kickoff specialist David Buehler.

Folk began the season by going 11 of 13, including 3 of 3 against Atlanta. Since the Atlanta game, though, he has only hit on 7 of 15, dropping his season total to 18 of 28. In three seasons, he made 64 of 81 attempts for a 79% average.

Cowboys’ Win Over Saints Isn’t Completely Without Precedent

Saturday night was not the first time that the Cowboys have played the role of spoiler by being the first team to defeat a previously unbeaten team. Though such wins have never come this late in the season, the win over New Orleans was not entirely without precedent.

Here’s the good news for New Orleans: in each instance in the past, each team that the Cowboys beat wound up winning the Super Bowl.

December 5, 1982: Dallas 24, Washington 10

This game was not entirely analogous, given that the game took place shortly after the strike of 1982 ended. The Redskins were 4-0 when they faced the 3-1 Cowboys, but a 24-10 loss gave Washington its first defeat. This was also Washington’s last loss, as the Redskins won eight straight to win the title.

November 17, 1985: Chicago 44, Dallas 0

This one doesn’t quite belong with the others, given that the Cowboys lost so badly to the 11-0 Bears. However, like the other Dallas opponents on this list, the Bears won the title by winning Super Bowl XX.

November 24, 1991: Dallas 24, Washington 21

Few gave the 6-5 Cowboys a chance to beat the 11-0 Redskins, but the Cowboys rode a strong first half and a big play by Michael Irvin in the fourth quarter to beat Washington. The Redskins finished 14-2 before winning Super Bowl XXVI.

November 19, 2006: Dallas 21, Indianapolis 14

The 5-4 Cowboys looked like no match for the 9-0 Indianapolis Colts, but the Cowboys stole the game with two Marion Barber touchdowns in the fourth quarter. The Colts only managed a 12-4 record but beat the Bears in Super Bowl XLI.

December 19, 2009: Dallas 24, New Orleans 17

The Cowboys ended the Saints’ bid for a 16-0 season, but New Orleans still looks like the best team in the NFC.

Dallas 24, New Orleans 17: Big Exhale After a Big Upset

The Cowboys’ 24-17 win over the Saints on Saturday night featured expected heroes. One hero: DeMarcus Ware who returned one week after suffering a neck injury to record two sacks. The second of those sacks occurred with less than six seconds remaining, securing the Dallas win.

Another hero: a gutsy Tony Romo, who threw for 312 yards and a TD.

Marion Barber didn’t fill the role of closer, but his two touchdowns helped the Cowboys to take a 24-3 lead heading into the fourth quarter. Miles Austin also came up huge, catching 7 passes for 139 yards and the first score of the game.

Along the way, some heroes of the unsung variety emerged. Kevin Ogletree caught two passes for 23 yards, while tight end John Phillips caught three for 40. Anthony Spencer might live in Ware’s shadow, but Spencer has become a force himself. He had six tackles and two big sacks.

After most of the heroics, Dallas still had to play the fourth quarter, which nearly every Cowboy fan must have feared. The 24-3 lead became a 24-17 lead, and some ugliness reared its head. Roy Williams dropped a third down pass that would have extended a Dallas drive. And with the Cowboys in position to put the game away with what was little more than an extra point, Nick Folk missed badly by banking the ball off the right upright.

Just when it appeared that the Saints would make yet another comeback (one eerily similar to their win over Washington), the Dallas defense came through. Drew Brees could not get set in the pocket on the Saints’ final drive, and Ware’s sack meant that New Orleans would not see any miracles.

Dallas improves to 9-5, ensuring the team’s fifth consecutive winning season.

Nothing Looks Promising for the Cowboys

Nothing is looking good for the Cowboys this week.

Very few have given the Cowboys a chance to win against the Saints on Saturday night.

Randy Galloway’s prediction this week gives us an idea of the media’s perception of the Cowboys’ chances on Saturday night:

Saints 100, Cowboys 3

None of the Startle-Gram’s staff gave the Cowboys a chance to win at New Orleans. This is hardly surprising.  A few folks at the Dallas Morning News think the Cowboys may cover the seven-point spread, but only one believes that the Cowboys will win. As for ESPN, two of the eight commentators picked Dallas.

So of 23 media members’ predictions, only Adam Schefter (ESPN), Seth Wickersham (ESPN), and Bill Nichols (DMN) think the Cowboys will win.

The simulations predict a closer game, but none of them predict a Dallas win.

AccuScore: New Orleans 33, Dallas 25

The Cowboys only won 29% of the AccuScore simulations, and Drew Brees torched Dallas in most of these simulations.

The Cowboys December struggles are well documented and with DeMarcus Ware doubtful their pass defense which allowed many big plays to the Eagles is expected to struggle against the Saints. Drew Brees is projected for 290 passing yards on 72 percent completion percentage and just a 47 percent chance of throwing 1+ INTs. For the Cowboys to upset New Orleans they need to have at least 2 Brees interceptions and Tony Romo needs to have no more than 1 INT. If Romo commits fewer turnovers than Brees the Cowboys are 60 percent favorites.

WhatIfSports: New Orleans 30, Dallas 25

The Cowboys won 39.7% of WhatIfSports’ simulations. The Saints averaged nearly 400 per game, though the Cowboys had success on the ground, averaging 174 yards per game.

Madden Simulation: New Orleans 30, Dallas 27

The Cowboys had a little bit more luck in ESPN’s simulation using Madden, but the result was the same as the other simulations.

Make fun of the Cowboys’ miserable December win totals all you want, but man, what a brutal schedule. This week Dallas takes on the undefeated Saints in what turns out to be the best game of the week. Unfortunately for the Cowboys, there are no moral victories, especially if the moral victories, aka losses, cost you a shot at the postseason.

The Cowboys actually led the game 27-20 heading into the fourth quarter, but that’s when Tony Romo threw two devastating interceptions, both leading to points, as New Orleans came back to win another nail-biter, 30-27.

Drew Brees threw for 285 yards and two touchdowns in the win to help the Saints improve to 14-0 on the season.

My Guess (8-5 based on win-loss)

I already complained about my prediction last week, which dropped my record to 8-5 this season. Here is a summary:

Key—

Week: My Prediction (Actual Result)

Week 1: Dallas 34, Tampa Bay 24 (actual: Dallas 34, Tampa Bay 21)

Week 2: N.Y. Giants 17, Dallas 14 (actual: N.Y. Giants 33, Dallas 31)

Week 3: Dallas 31, Carolina 21 (actual: Dallas 21, Carolina 7)

Week 4: Dallas 24, Denver 14 (actual: Denver 17, Dallas 10)

Week 5: Dallas 31, Kansas City 14 (actual: Dallas 26, Kansas City 20)

Week 7: Atlanta 28, Dallas 17 (actual: Dallas 37, Atlanta 21)

Week 8: Dallas 31, Seattle 17 (actual Dallas 38, Seattle 17)

Week 9: Dallas 23, Philadelphia 17 (actual: Dallas 20, Philadelphia 16)

Week 10: Dallas 31, Green Bay 20 (actual: Green Bay 17, Dallas 7)

Week 11: Dallas 20, Washington 6 (actual: Dallas 7, Washington 6)

Week 12: Dallas 30, Oakland 13 (actual: Dallas 24, Oakland 7)

Week 13: Dallas 21, N.Y. Giants 12 (actual: N.Y. Giants 31, Dallas 24)

Week 14: Dallas 27, San Diego 20 (actual: San Diego 20, Dallas 17)

Frankly, there is no way I am predicting a Dallas win yet again. I don’t see the Cowboys being able to slow down the Saints’ attack, and I think New Orleans will jump out to a lead. Dallas might keep the game close, but Nick Folk will not only miss three field goals but also three extra points. The result:

personalized greetings

New Orleans 30, Dallas 18

Cowboys vs. Saints Since 1990 is a Matchup Made for December

Dallas vs. New Orleans has been a great Christmas present... in New Awlins

Dallas vs. New Orleans has been a great Christmas present... in New Awlins

The Cowboys face the New Orleans Saints on Saturday night in the first matchup between the teams since December 10, 2006. For those who don’t remember that debacle, the Cowboys had absolutely no idea how to stop the Saints in a 42-17 Dallas loss. My summary of that game was that the Cowboys were badly outcoached and badly outplayed on both sides of the ball. New Orleans piled up 536 total yards.

Not something to remember if you want to have confidence regarding Saturday night’s game.

The Cowboys have faced the Saints eight times since 1990. Each one of those games took place during the month of December, which is rather bizarre as far as scheduling goes. The Cowboys are 3-5 in those games, and New Orleans has won five straight.

December 2, 1990: Dallas 17, New Orleans 13
December 8, 1991: Dallas 23, New Orleans 14
December 19, 1994: Dallas 24, New Orleans 16
December 6, 1998: New Orleans 22, Dallas 3
December 24, 1999: New Orleans 31, Dallas 24
December 28, 2003: New Orleans 13, Dallas 7
December 12, 2004: New Orleans 27, Dallas 13
December 10, 2006: New Orleans 42, Dallas 17

The last time the Cowboys beat the Saints was in 1994, but that game was not especially memorable. After gaining 74 yards, Emmitt Smith injured his hamstring, and the injury stayed with him for the rest of the season.

Incidentally, I have never been to New Orleans, and I would have no idea how to pronounce it properly if I did visit. According to Urban Dictionary, a tourist should just refer it as New OR-Lenz unless the tourist wants to annoy the locals. Richie Whitt at the Dallas Observer might know better, and he says he pronounces it New OR-lee-unz. I suppose New or-LEENS is another possibility.

Relative Value Rankings After Week 14

It was another week with few great individual performances. Players dropping this week include Nick Folk and nearly every offensive lineman. One player making a jump: WR Roy Williams, who had a pretty good game.

Martellus Bennett ended upon the inactive list due to his injury, so he fell off the rating list for at least a week.

Inactives vs. San Diego: QB Stephen McGee, S Ken Hamlin, CB Cletis Gordon, G Montrae Holland, C Duke Preston, T Marc Colombo, LB Curtis Johnson, TE Martellus Bennett

45. Jason Williams, LB

Last week: Inactive

vs. San Diego: Williams was active for the first time since week 5 vs. Kansas City. He did not record a tackle.

44. Michael Hamlin, S

Last week: 45

vs. San Diego: Hamlin saw a bit of action due to Pat Watkins’ knee injury, but Hamlin did not record a single tackle.

43. Pat McQuistan, T

Last week: 44

vs. San Diego: More special teams blocking.

42. Steve Octavien, LB

Last week: 43

vs. San Diego: Octavien recorded one special teams tackle.

41. Jon Kitna, QB

Last week: 42

vs. San Diego: Another week, still no action.

40. Cory Procter, C/G

Last week: 41

vs. San Diego: More special teams blocking.

39. Nick Folk, K

Last week: 31

vs. San Diego: There is plenty of sentiment that Folk should be released. Apparently, he will continue as the Cowboys’ kicker for another week.

38. John Phillips, TE

Last week: 40

vs. San Diego: Phillips was the second tight end due to Martellus Bennett’s concussion. Phillips was Tony Romo’s target on a third down play on the team’s opening drive, but Phillips was well covered.

37. Kevin Ogletree, WR

Last week: 39

vs. San Diego: Ogletree hasn’t had a reception since week 10 vs. Green Bay. He also did not have a return or a special teams tackle.

36. Sam Hurd, WR

Last week: 37

vs. San Diego: Hurd’s last reception was the 36-yard touchdown against the Seahawks. He recorded one special teams tackle and one assist against the Chargers.

35. Victor Butler, LB

Last week: 38

vs. San Diego: Butler recorded two defensive tackles and an assist on special teams. He replaced DeMarcus Ware when Ware went out with an injury. The drop-off in quality was significant.

34. Pat Watkins, S

Last week: 30

vs. San Diego: Watkins suffered a knee injury and will miss two to four weeks.

33. L.P. Ladouceur, LS

Last week: 36

vs. San Diego: Nobody has suggested that the field goal problems fall on Ladouceur. The snap on Nick Folk’s missed field goal looked fine.

32. Deon Anderson, FB

Last week: 35

vs. San Diego: There were some suggestions last week that Anderson should be more involved with the ball, but that didn’t happen against the Chargers.

31. Jason Hatcher, DE

Last week: 34

vs. San Diego: Hatcher recorded one assist against San Diego.

30. Junior Siavii, DT

Last week: 33

vs. San Diego: Siavii recorded one tackle.

29. David Buehler, K

Last week: 32

vs. San Diego: Two of Buehler’s kickoffs went into the end zone, and one was downed for a touchback. Buehler is not likely to kick field goals this week, but the team has taken a look at him.

28. Alan Ball, S

Last week: 28

vs. San Diego: Ball had four tackles and two assists. He also made a nice play on a deep pass to Malcom Floyd. Overall, it was not a bad game for Ball.

27. Orlando Scandrick, CB

Last week: 26

vs. San Diego: Scandrick had one tackle on special teams. He wasn’t torched as bad as Terence Newman was.

26. Bobby Carpenter, LB

Last week: 27

vs. San Diego: Carpenter had three tackles.

25. Stephen Bowen, DE

Last week: 29

vs. San Diego: Late in the first half, Bowen recorded a sack near midfield, which helped to prevent the Chargers from scoring before the half.

24. Tashard Choice, RB

Last week: 23

vs. San Diego: Two carries, 11 yards. He is not going to get many opportunities.

23. Doug Free, T

Last week: 25

vs. San Diego: The Chargers ran some blitzes from the right side of the Cowboys’ line. Free wasn’t beaten badly, but the pressure was certainly there.

22. Kyle Kosier, G

Last week: 19

vs. San Diego: Kosier was called for illegal hands to the face in the first quarter, which nearly ruined the team’s first drive of the game. None of the linemen had a good game.

21. Flozell Adams, T

Last week: 20

vs. San Diego: Adams wasn’t called for a penalty, which is a good thing. No offensive lineman deserves much credit this week, though.

20. Marcus Spears, DE

Last week: 21

vs. San Diego: Spears had three tackles, including one for a loss on LaDainian Tomlinson.

19. Patrick Crayton, WR

Last week: 16

vs. San Diego: Crayton scored late in the game, but that was during mop-up duty.

18. Leonard Davis, G

Last week: 14

vs. San Diego: Three runs from the one-yard line went right behind Davis. All three failed. Enough said.

17. Andre Gurode, C

Last week: 13

vs. San Diego: Gurode wasn’t any better than Davis in moving the San Diego line around.

16. Gerald Sensabaugh, S

Last week: 11

vs. San Diego: This was Sensabaugh’s worst game with the Cowboys. His pass interference on Malcom Floyd set up San Diego’s first touchdown. Sensabaugh was also burned on Antonio Gates’ touchdown that put the Chargers on top for good.

15. Terence Newman, CB

Last week: 10

vs. San Diego: Yes, Newman had a pick that gave the Cowboys a chance to score late in the second quarter. But Newman also had all sorts of problems with Malcom Floyd and Vincent Jackson.

14. Roy Williams, WR

Last week: 22

vs. San Diego: Williams had 74 yards on four receptions, including a 25-yarder that set up the Cowboys’ first touchdown.

13. Felix Jones, RB

Last week: 18

vs. San Diego: Jones had a nice opening kickoff, gaining 41 yards on the return. It set up the Cowboys’ field goal. Jones led the team with 51 yards on 10 carries.

12. Mat McBriar, P

Last week: 17

vs. San Diego: Three punts, 50.3-yard average. And it turns out that McBriar wasn’t the problem on field goals.

11. Marion Barber, RB

Last week: 9

vs. San Diego: No chest-pumping when the team’s leading running back can’t gain a yard to tie the game. Barber only had 47 yards on 14 carries.

10. Igor Olshansky, DE

Last week: 15

vs. San Diego: Three solos and two assists, with one tackle for a loss. Solid.

9. Bradie James, LB

Last week: 12

vs. San Diego: Two solos with three assists. Nothing great, but nothing bad.

8. Mike Jenkins, CB

Last week: 7

vs. San Diego: Jenkins didn’t have a great game, but he was in better position to make plays than Newman was. Jenkins looked awfully short against the likes of Vincent Jackson, who made a great reception over the top of Jenkins late in the first quarter.

7. Anthony Spencer, LB

Last week: 8

vs. San Diego: Spencer had another good game with five solos and an assist. It will be interesting to see how he performs if DeMarcus Ware can’t play against New Orleans.

6. Jason Witten, TE

Last week: 6

vs. San Diego: Witten was back to his usual form: four receptions, 49 yards, no touchdowns.

5. Keith Brooking, LB

Last week: 5

vs. San Diego: Brooking led the team in tackles with six solos and an assist. But it turns out that his leadership hasn’t made much of a difference now that it is December.

4. Jay Ratliff, NT

Last week: 3

vs. San Diego: Ratliff only had one tackle and one assist against the Chargers. Dallas needed more.

3. Miles Austin, WR

Last week: 1

vs. San Diego: Austin had six receptions for 71 yards and a touchdown. One of the forgotten plays occurred early in the game. With Dallas facing a 2nd-and-22 from the Dallas 47, Romo found Austin for 18 yards to help keep the drive alive. Those are the types of plays that make Austin so valuable.

2. Tony Romo, QB

Last week: 4

vs. San Diego: Romo has performed quite well in two consecutive December games. The numbers: 60 of 85, 641 yards, 5 TD, 0 Int. Passer rating of 111.9. That’s solid.

1. DeMarcus Ware, LB

Last week: 2

vs. San Diego: Scary moment with Ware being carted off in the fourth quarter. The Cowboys had no clue how to stop the Chargers once Ware went out, which shows just how valuable Ware is.

Polls

[polldaddy poll=2397569]

[polldaddy poll=2397572]

Did You Know? Some Career Statistics Updates

To avoid focusing on the very real possibility that the Cowboys may be out of the playoff hunt even before they play Philadelphia on January 3 (sigh), today’s post will focus on some trivial items related to career statistics.

Did You Know…

That Tony Romo’s career interception percentage is the same right now as Troy Aikman’s? Both are 3.0%. Aikman threw 141 interceptions on 4715 attempts. Romo has thrown 53 picks on 1751 attempts. (I guess if we didn’t round up or down, Aikman’s is still slightly better).

Did You Know…

That Tony Romo’s career TD percentage of 5.9% is better than the percentages of Aikman, Roger Staubach, Don Meredith, and Danny White, but not Eddie LeBaron or Craig Morton?

Did You Know…

That though Jason Witten is now second on the team’s list for career receptions, he is only third on the list as far as number of touchdowns by a tight end? His 26 career TDs rank below Billy Joe DuPree (41) and Doug Cosbie (30). Jay Novacek only had 22.

Did You Know…

That Patrick Crayton now ranks #19 on the team’s all-time receptions list? His 190 receptions are one more than Preston Pearson, who now ranks 20th.

Did You Know…

That with two punt returns, Crayton will surpass Bob Hayes in total punt returns for a career? Crayton has returned a total of 103 punts, one fewer than Hayes and six fewer than Mel Renfro. Among players with at least 50 punt returns, Crayton’s 9.8 average ranks fifth behind Deion Sanders (13.3), Hayes (11.1), Reggie Swinton (10.9), and Kelvin Martin (10.1). Renfro only averaged 7.7 yards per return.

Did You Know…

That Nick Folk has fallen all the way to fourth on the team’s all-time list for field goal percentage? He has made 79.7% of his field goals, which is worse than the career percentages of Chris Boniol (87.1%), Eddie Murray (83.3%), and Richie Cunningham (79.8%).

– – –

If Folk is cut this week, he and Cunningham may want to sit down and share stories about their Cowboys’ careers over a drink. Recommended drinks may include Everclear or Bicardi 151. Consider these stats:

Cunningham

1997: 34/37 (91.9%)

1998: 29/35 (82.9%)

1999: 12/22 (54.5%) (cut after 12 games)

Dallas career: 75/94 (79.8%)

Folk

2007: 26/31 (83.9%)

2008: 20/22 (90.9%)

2009: 17/26 (65.4%) (after 13 games)

Dallas career: 63/79 (79.7%)

Cunningham missed field goals in four of five games in 1999, which was a frustrating season in which the Cowboys led in nearly every game but only finished 8-8. He was released after week 12 but was picked up by Carolina for the last two weeks of the season. After the Cowboys released him in 1999, he appeared only seven more NFL games over the next three years.

Folk has now missed field goals in six of his last seven games, including the last five in a row.