IRVING, Texas –The Cowboys knew this would be a tough stretch of games when the schedule came out, but probably didn't figure the Falcons to be undefeated at 7-0. The Cowboys have had some success against undefeated teams this late in the season before but this still should be a tough challenge for a Cowboys team coming off a disappointing loss to the Giants last week.
The DallasCowboys.com writing staff shares its expectations for Sunday's game in Atlanta. Here is the gut feeling of Nick Eatman, Rowan Kavner, Jonathan Auping and Bryan Broaddus.
Rowan: Going out on a limb and picking an upset win would have been a little easier early in the week, when DeMarco Murray, Dan Connor and the wide receivers' statuses were more optimistic. Murray would be especially vital this week given the Falcons' issues stopping the run, not to mention a quality rushing attack would keep Atlanta's offensive weapons off the field. The Cowboys' haven't been intimidated playing undefeated teams midway through a season. They need a win more than the Falcons, and if they can cut the turnovers, they'll sneak one out in Atlanta.
Bryan:Historically when the calendar turns to November, it's the time of year that Tony Romo shines the most. With a record of 3-4 all is not lost and a win over the Falcons on Sunday night could turn this season around in the right direction. There is no doubt that Romo hasn't been as sharp as he has needed to be but you can say that about plenty of players on this team. Against the Giants, I thought they wasted an outstanding effort by the defense. Offensively, the Falcons can put a great deal of pressure on your defensive scheme but to win this game, Rob Ryan is going to have to find ways to once again get his defense off the field. The Cowboys will offensively score points but can Rob Ryan and this defense hold Matt Ryan in check? If they do, the Cowboys have a great shot to win this game.
Jonathan:It probably goes without saying that in order to beat the undefeated Atlanta Falcons the Cowboys will have to play some of their best football of the season. But sometimes being a big underdog finally takes a little pressure off of a team. I don't mean to disrespect a 7-0 team, but the Falcons are beatable. Obviously they have great receiving weapons, but I think the Cowboys' secondary is up to the challenge. Don't get me wrong, the Falcons will make big plays through the air, but I think that they will be at least relatively contained. But my big prediction is that Felix Jones will surprise a lot of people and play well. He has nagging shoulder and knee injuries that limited him in practice this week, but the Cowboys should look to run the ball and keep it out of the hands of Matt Ryan. I think, in one form or another, Jones will find the end zone against this Atlanta defense.
Nick: So I missed one bad last week. Came right out and said the Cowboys would win, and even they nearly stole one in the end, they were anything but ready to play and had to rally just to make it close. I really don't know what to expect this week. I could see all four scenarios playing out. I see the Falcons and Cowboys wining close games and could see both teams, even the Cowboys, pulling away with a convincing win. While the Falcons have been very good, the way they're winning games suggests it's usually time the ball doesn't bounce their way. But let's not take anything away from a team that finds a way to win. It's not just luck, they've made their plays. While I've seen the Cowboys go into New Orleans in 2009 and pull this off, something tells me it won't go down like that this time. Yes, I see a way for the Cowboys to win – but it seems like I'm seeing a few more ways they come up short.