For the second week in a row, the Atlanta Falcons will take on an NFC East team that has their backs against the ropes. For the second time in a row, that team is in essentially a do or die situation for its playoff lives. But for the first time, this game will take place on a national stage.
On Sunday evening on a nationally televised game carried by NBC, the Falcons will play host to the Dallas Cowboys. The ‘Boys have struggled in 2012 to this point, and have looked very inconsistent to say the least. They’ve looked really good for a couple quarters– and downright miserable for other quarters.
The Falcons haven’t exactly been extremely consistent either. But the main difference is that their ceiling is slightly higher than that of the Cowboys, and their low isn’t anywhere near as low as that of the team from Dallas. So while consistency in every quarter of the 2012 Falcons season hasn’t been their strength, it surely hasn’t been the Achilles heel the way it has been for Dallas.
Make no mistake, Dallas is loaded with talent. Great skill position players on offense, really good defensive line led by DeMarcus Ware, and a pair of cornerbacks that are second to none in the NFL (rookie Morris Claiborne and free agent signee Brandon Carr). If you were looking for two players to defend the Falcons outside receivers Julio Jones and Roddy White, they’d probably look something like Claiborne and Carr.
The Falcons aren’t bad defensively either. If you were trying to build a defense to stop the Cowboys, it might look a little like the Falcons. They aren’t particularly good defending the run, but Dallas is nearly as bad running the ball as Atlanta is defending that dimension of the game.
This game is going to come down to something that nearly every single football contest comes down to. How well will each offensive line protect their quarterback and open up holes in the running game? Atlanta has been solid overall, but there have been games where they have certainly struggled. Just look at the game against Carolina as an example of failure by the line, and the games against Denver and Philadelphia as tremendous success for Atlanta’s o-line. Dallas hasn’t protected Romo well, nor have they done a particularly good job run blocking. There have been some success by the Cowboys offensive line, but that is the exception more than the rule for that team.
It will be interesting to see how this week of practice plays out, how injuries may play into the game, and how the game itself will play out. Stay tuned to Blogging Dirty for matchups and more previews of the contest between the Atlanta Falcons and the Dallas Cowboys.