IRVING, Texas – Dez Bryant had his way in Philadelphia last weekend, and it was a big reason why the Cowboys flew home with a double-digit victory.
I think Week 16 will present a steeper challenge for Dez, and his ability to meet that challenge will say a lot about this game. That, and my other important matchup to know for Sunday, below:
Cowboys WR Dez Bryant against Colts CBs Vontae Davis and Greg Toler
Last week against the Eagles, Bradley Fletcher was no match for Dez Bryant. Against the Colts that might be a different story – they have much better corners.
Vontae Davis and Greg Toler both are talented players, and with the way defensive coordinator Greg Manusky likes to bring pressure, his two corners are matched up one-on-one the majority of the snaps. No matter what side the Cowboys decide to send Bryant to, he is going to have to fight for space --especially if the Colts can get them in third down, where they are the best in the league at getting off the field.
When Davis missed the Dec. 7 game against Cleveland with a concussion, Toler went all over the field with Josh Gordon, holding him to just two catches. Earlier in the season when Davis left the Pittsburgh game with a knee injury, it was Toler that carried Antonio Brown, as well.
What you will notice in this game is that Toler will normally line up on the left side with Davis on the right, and Davis will not move. What will be interesting to see with this Cowboys offensive game plan is which side they are most interested in attacking. For the season, Davis leads the team in passes defensed with nineteen, while Toler has nine. I expect an all-day fight between these Colts corners and Bryant.
Cowboys Jeremy Mincey against Colts OT Anthony Castonzo
This will be a matchup that Mincey should be comfortable with from his days in Jacksonville, where he faced Castonzo twice a season in the AFC South. As a matter of fact, in the two meetings from the 2011 season, Mincey had five sacks in those two games.
It was good to see Mincey finally rewarded for his hard work with a two-sack night against the Eagles last week. His five sacks ties him for the team lead with Henry Melton, but there have been games where I thought he deserved one or two more. Where Mincey can take advantage of Castonzo will be with his power, which is where Castonzo will struggle.
One of Mincey's best moves is when he can straight bull rush the blocker, then go with a quick arm-over move. What I expect will happen is that Mincey will go at Castonzo with power several times to start the game, and Castonzo will counter by trying to set him short, trying to keep Mincey along the line. This will put Castonzo in a position where he might be a little over extended, and this is when Mincey will go around him with the quick move.
I also expect Mincey to be able to handle Castonzo in the running game. The one thing I have noticed on film about Castonzo and this Colts offensive line is that in general they do a poor job of getting movement in the running game, and I don't feel like that this will change in one week.