IRVING, Texas – Here they are, my two biggest keys for the Cowboys' hopes at snapping this six-game losing streak.
Let's take a look at the two biggest aspects of this game:
Dallas Cowboys Win If:
The one advantage that Jameis Winston has in facing this defense is that he sees it every day and his coaches can explain to him in his preparation what Rod Marinelli will be attempting to do to him.
I have said several times this week in studying Winston and his game that he reminds me very much of Brett Favre when we started him early in his career. There were flashes of brilliance and then others where it appeared that he had no clue what was going on. I feel like Rod Marinelli and this defense had better be ready for both.
You can see the passion Winston plays this game with, as well as the talent he possess. You also see him reckless with the ball. He will make decisions and throws that he has no business making. He is just as inaccurate as he is accurate. That accuracy gets worse with the more pressure you put on him. When that happens, you will see him force the ball or throw terribly off balance.
In the pocket, his strength is his biggest weapon – I believe more so than his mobility. Marinelli needs to find ways to harass Winston by not allowing him to feel comfortable in the pocket. This game will come down to one simple thing – can this Dallas defense force Jameis Winston into some mistakes?
I am not just talking about turnovers. This defense needs to force him into taking sacks and not being accurate with his passes. If they do that the entire game – they will win.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers Win If:
Turnovers are the key for the Buccaneers. When you study their defensive tape, one of the first things you notice is how their defense is always ripping at the ball. In the Atlanta game, that was the biggest reason why they won -- the turnovers.
The Buccaneers are not as good talent-wise as the Falcons, but it appeared that every time the Falcons made a big play – there was a Buccaneers defensive player that ended up on the ground with the ball in his hands. Dallas is one of the worst teams in the league when it comes to plus/minus on turnovers. In two of his three games, Matt Cassel has thrown an interception that resulted in a defensive touchdown. The Buccaneers might no longer have Ronde Barber at cornerback creating those situations, but they have had interceptions from four different members of their secondary.
This defense has also recovered nine fumbles, which is impressive through the halfway point of the season. For the Buccaneers to win this game, they are going to need to continue to force those turnovers to steal a possession or two -- but also give their offense from short field situations that will make it easy on their rookie quarterback.
Lovie Smith once brought a Chicago Bears team into AT&T Stadium on a Monday night and came away with a victory in large part due to creating several turnovers. It's the style of defense he likes to play and in this case his best shot at getting a win on Sunday in Tampa.