Cowboys CB Orlando Scandrick vs. Bears WR Alshon Jeffery
Revisited: My belief in this game was that Orlando Scandrick against Alshon Jeffery was going to be the best way for Monte Kiffin and his defense to handle the talented wide receiver. Scandrick has the physical skill to match up with Jeffery to make up for the lack of height he is giving away. In dealing with Jeffery in this game, it wasn't so much about the physical side of the game but how Kiffin played far more zone coverage than he did man which allowed both he and Brandon Marshall much more free access in the routes, which in turn created more opportunity for them to find space against these Cowboys cornerbacks. When Scandrick did get matched up in man, Jeffery did have to fight for space but as we witnessed as the game went on especially in the first half that his ability to elevate to grab the ball plus his body control, made him difficult to defend even when it appeared that the defender was in place to do so. The way that the game was called, made this match up a much easier one on Jeffery in my view.
(Posted Sunday) This is a battle that is going to happen on several different levels. Scandrick will get a chance to carry Jeffery outside but out of the slot as well. The Bears will try to get the Cowboys to have to play their nickel and put B.W. Webb on the field which Monte Kiffin will do but I expect him to move Webb either inside or out depending how they want to play Jeffery. I like the physical nature of Scandrick in this matchup for the simple reason that he has the reactionary skills to play routes and make a play on the ball. Jeffery is a good route runner and Scandrick will not be confused or allow him to get the best of him in the way he runs his routes. It will be interesting to see if the officials allow both Scandrick and Brandon Carr to get physical with Jeffery and Brandon Marshall. With Josh McCown at quarterback, the ball comes out quicker and it tends to come out underneath. Where Scandrick is at his best is when he can read the route and drive on the ball. With that being said, Scandrick and Carr have to be ready for the double move, "Sluggo" or the slant and go. Jeffery is coming off a career game last week against the Vikings in receptions and yards and really has been a force all season. Orlando Scandrick has been the Cowboys most consistent defensive back and is the most sensible player for Kiffin to match Jeffery with an attempt to win this game.
Cowboys OT Tyron Smith vs. Bears DE Julius Peppers
Revisited: It was once again an outstanding outing for Tyron Smith against one of the special defensive ends to play in the NFL in Julius Peppers. It did not matter whether it was in the running or passing game, Smith was more than up to the challenge and it was clear very early that despite all the skill that Peppers processes, Smith was not going to let him have an inch in this match up. Smith was able to combat all of Peppers moves with solid technique and balance. Smith never looked uncomfortable in this match up or did he appear to let Peppers put him in any bad spots. Peppers really struggled with Smith's power and as the game wore on, you could see him begin to run out of ways to deal with Smith and the way that he was attacking him. Along with his power, Smith showed great patience along with the ability that when it came time to finish the play, Peppers was the one that was on his heels and not the aggressor. What was a shame in this game was that it was not as close as it needed to be, because that you would have really seen Tyron Smith at his best when it comes to just his run blocking and killing this game.
(Posted Sunday) There has plenty of talk of Tyron Smith and the type of season that he is currently having. Some are asking, if he is playing at a Pro Bowl level? Smith has been outstanding and he has taken his game to a higher level and become more of a complete player. All season he has taken on the best of the opponents defensive ends and carried himself well. This will be another opportunity to handle one of the league's best in Julius Peppers on the national stage. It is games like these that get you noticed around the league when everyone is sitting down watching. Smith has the perfect make up to handle Peppers and the way he plays. Both are very athletic and have length to their games. Would not call Peppers a relentless rusher but Smith will need to find ways to finish blocks on him because there will be two or three plays where you don't finish the job and he is hurting your quarterback. I expect Smith to attack Peppers from the jump, because you can't allow him to get going. If Peppers is feeling it that day, he can be a handful to deal with. If you wait on him to rush, he is going to take advantage of you. For such a long player, he can make himself small really quick and not give you much to hit. Smith has the feet to counter his movement and that is really important when you are facing him. Look for Tyron Smith to take the fight to Julius Peppers and see if he will respond.