Good luck selling the Cowboys on the fact that the Oakland Raiders' 0-3 record is reflective of the team's talent heading into Sunday's game at McAfee Coliseum (3:15 CDT). All the Cowboys have to do is look across the field and see Randy Moss to realize they're in for a heated battle, having never beaten the former Vikings receiver since passing on him in the 1998 draft. The Cowboys, barely escaping a surprising San Francisco passing attack, 34-31, last Sunday to advance to 2-1, will face the most potent offense they've gone up against this season in Oakland.
The Raiders likely never envisioned an 0-3 start after their ballyhooed off-season, but here they are, sitting in last place in the AFC West just three games into the season after falling, 23-20, to Philadelphia on Sunday. To the Raiders' credit, though, they have endured a monstrous schedule to start the season, already facing the two teams from last year's Super Bowl. Oakland may be winless, but it has competed well in all its games, actually holding second-quarter leads over both Philadelphia and New England.
This is the first time the Raiders have started a season 0-3 since 1992, when the then-Los Angeles Raiders began the year 0-4. It has been nearly that long since the Cowboys have defeated the Raiders on the road, last occurring on Nov. 19, 1995, when the Cowboys beat the Raiders, 34-21, en route to winning Super Bowl XXX. The teams have only faced each other twice since then, the Raiders winning both meetings, 28-21 in 2001 and 13-12 in 1998.
- The Raiders haven't gotten the offensive jolt that they had hoped for with the off-season signing of free-agent runner LaMont Jordan, who has gained only 148 rushing yards this season on 3.0 yards per carry.
- Moss, who has 15 receptions for an NFL second-best 343 yards and two touchdowns this season, has never lost to the Cowboys. While with Minnesota from 1998-2004, Moss compiled a 5-0 record against the Cowboys, including a 27-10 postseason victory in 1999.
- Oakland is no stranger to leading the league in penalties, and they've already gotten off to an ominous start this season. The Raiders have been penalized 36 times for 327 yards in three games, leading the league in both categories.
- Raiders head coach Norv Turner is 4-9 when facing the Cowboys as a head coach. All 13 games came from Turner's seven-year tenure in Washington.
- Oakland may be 0-3 but their offense remains one of the league's most intimidating to go up against. Quarterback Kerry Collins has been the biggest beneficiary of Moss' presence, as the 11-year veteran has passed for 873 yards and six touchdowns this season. But most importantly, he hasn't thrown any interceptions, which is especially impressive considering Collins entered this season with more career interceptions than touchdowns. Collins has been efficient but unafraid to test teams deep, completing 14 passes for 20 or more yards in just three games.
- As many big plays as Oakland's offense has produced, though, its defense seems to be matching that amount with the number of big plays it has allowed. New England quarterback Tom Brady eclipsed the 300-yard mark in Week 1 (306), while Philadelphia quarterback Donovan McNabb threw for 365 yards despite being banged up.
- Cowboys defensive end Kenyon Coleman - Spent the 2002 season with Oakland but was inactive for 15 games, recording one tackle in the game he did play. Went to camp with the Raiders in 2003 but was traded to the Cowboys during the week of the season opener. Has started the first three games this season for the Cowboys.
- Cowboys defensive tackle La'Roi Glover - Before becoming a five-time Pro Bowler, Glover was a fifth-round pick of Oakland in 1996. Glover only played in two games with the Raiders before being released prior to the '97 season. Has appeared in three Pro Bowls since signing with the Cowboys in 2002.
- Raiders guard Ron Stone - Member of two Super Bowl-champion teams in his three seasons as a backup lineman with the Cowboys from 1993-95. Did not play in 1993 but played in 32 games the following two years, including one start in 1995. Left the Cowboys in 1996 to sign with the New York Giants, where he eventually became a three-time Pro Bowler. Has played right guard since joining the Raiders in 2004.
- Raiders tight end Randal Williams - Was predominately a special teams during his three-year stint as a receiver with the Cowboys (2002-04). Recorded the fastest touchdown in league history by returning an onside kick for a 37-yard touchdown to start a game against Philadelphia in 2003. Moved to tight end after signing with Oakland during training camp this summer.
- Raiders head coach Norv Turner - Credited as the mastermind of the Cowboys' offensive success in the early 1990s. During his three-year term as offensive coordinator (1991-93), Turner helped the Cowboys win back-to-back Super Bowls (XXVII and XXVIII). Running back Emmitt Smith led the league in rushing all three years Turner was with the team. Turner, who took over as Oakland's head coach last season, left the Cowboys in 1994 to become the Redskins head coach.
- Raiders special teams coach Joe Avezzano - Coached the Cowboys special teams for 13 seasons (1990-2002), winning three Super Bowls. Three-time winner of Special Teams Coach of the Year Award (1991, 1993, 1998). Served as the head coach for the Dallas Desperados from 2002-03, twice leading the franchise to the playoffs.
Kicker Sebastian Janikowski has missed four field goals in three games, connecting on only 3-of-7 attempts this season. Janikowski went 2-for-4 against Philadelphia . . . Cowboys quarterback Drew Bledsoe could have all day in the pocket against the Raiders, who have recorded only two sacks this season. Collins, meanwhile, has been sacked only four times this season . . . Oakland has jumped to a 7-0 first-quarter lead in two of its three losses . . . Punter Shane Lechler, who led the league with a 46.7 gross average last season, currently ranks fourth in the AFC with a 46.0-yard average.