IRVING, Texas -There's something to be said about the offenses of the Dallas Cowboys, Washington Redskins and New York Giants. Sure, they're all extremely dangerous, but they've all been inconsistent at times as well. They've all had their share of games where the offense has simply stalled and been unable to get in a solid rhythm for consecutive quarters.
Not surprisingly, the three teams are all tied atop the NFC East. Of those three teams, however, the Giants and the Redskins are the two that have already faced the New Orleans Saints and their almost historically atrocious defense. Say what you will about the perceived flaws of the Giants or Redskins' offenses, but when they lined up against the Saints' defense, they took care of business.
The Redskins put up 40 points on New Orleans and the Giants exploded for 52 points against the Saints. The Cowboys will be expected to put up similar numbers.
The Redskins played the Saints in the season opener, which was Robert Griffin III's first game in the NFL. Griffin's 320-yard passing performance to go along with a 140 passer rating set the tone for Washington's confidence going forward. Watching a rookie quarterback play that well on the road in his first NFL game showed a lot of people that the Redskins might not have to wait all that long to be competitive in the NFC East.
The Giants played the Saints just two weeks ago and Eli Manning picked apart New Orleans' secondary for four touchdowns, while rookie running back David Wilson was able to rush for 100 yards and score three times. Had the Giants lost the game, they would already be eliminated from the NFC East title race by now. Their offense just wouldn't allow it.
And now Dallas faces the Saints at Cowboy Stadium on Sunday in a game that may serve as a barometer for the full potential of the Cowboys' offense. The Saints' defense isn't just bad, it's downright terrible. New Orleans ranks 31st in the NFL in passing defense and 31st in rushing defense.
Somehow, the Saints seemed to show up defensively last week and shut out the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. But the Cowboys can't let that happen to them. In fact, they can't even come close tot that. This Saints' defense is not talented enough to contain all the weapons that the Cowboys have to offer.
Regardless of what happens on Sunday, the division will still come down to the following Sunday against Washington. The Cowboys' offense, which has performed well in recent weeks, will need to be in a groove going into the Washington game.
While the Redskins' defense has improved as the season has gone on, and they are considerably better than the Saints' defense, they are not exactly the '85 Bears either. The fact of the matter is that the Cowboys have the offensive firepower to put up a lot of points in Washington.
But first they will have to handle the Saints defense. But not just so they can boost the morale of their offense. They will need to score points to keep up with the Saints' offense.
The Giants and Redskins may have combined to score 92 points on the Saints, but Drew Brees also combined to throw for nearly 700 yards in those two games. Brees is still leading the league in yards and touchdowns.
Just how good is the Saints offense? Well, despite their abomination of a defense, the Saints actually have positive net points (meaning they have scored more points than they have given up this season). In fact, the Saints actually have more net points than the Cowboys do this season despite being two games behind them in the win column. The Saints are 10 in net points while the Cowboys are -11.
It might be a common hobby for fans to critique coordinator Rob Ryan's defensive scheme, but this might not be the game to expect a defensive showdown. The Saints have been able to score on just about every opponent they've faced this season. This could very well be a "first team to 40" game. And there's no reason that the Cowboys shouldn't be that team.
Expect a heavy dose of DeMarco Murray early in the game to establish the running attack. The Cowboys should be able to rush for well over 100 yards against a defense that has given up nearly 150 yards per game on the ground.
One other thing to watch out for is the fact that Tony Romo still has an outside chance of catching Brees for the passing title this season. Romo currently trails Brees by 66 yards with two games remaining.
All season head coach Jason Garrett has talked about the weapons the Cowboys have on offense and the fact that different players will be productive in different games. It's hard to get everybody the ball, even in a victory.
But if there was ever a game where it might be possible to see all the Cowboys' biggest playmakers involved in the offense, this would be that game.