FRISCO, Texas – Here's a look at the two big keys that I think will swing Monday night's matchup.
Dallas Cowboys win if:
As much as I want to believe they will need balance to defeat the Tennessee Titans, I see passing the ball as the best plan of attack. I understand that just having Dak Prescott throwing the ball around might not be the most ideal situation, but with the way the Titans play in the secondary it is the best avenue for creating big plays.
Every game that I studied for the Titans defensively had an opponent coming up with large chunk plays throwing the ball down the field. To execute this plan of attack, the Cowboys are first and foremost going to need to protect Prescott. He has suffered far too many hits and sacks, so this needs to be corrected quickly. The Titans don't have that dynamic edge rusher, but that doesn't mean they can't create pressure.
They have a scheme that has caused problems for the Cowboys offensive line this season. Opponents that have been able to twist their front have been proven difficult to block. Whether it has been communication or just physically having issues passing stunts, it's been an issue.
It will now be up to Marc Colombo to see if he can get this group back on track. Look for Colombo to tweak some techniques with this unit in order to have them perform at a higher level. I expect to see a group that is now more attacking as opposed to one that is catching blocks. The plan for victory is pretty simple to me: handle the Titans movement upfront and you'll handle them on the scoreboard.
Tennessee Titans win if:
The Tennessee Titans are an offensively challenged team. They don't run the ball with any consistency, nor do they make many big plays in the passing game. They've tried to protect Marcus Mariota with run heavy formations using multiple tight ends as part of the game plan.
If you think the Cowboys had problems until the Amari Cooper trade, the Titans are far worse. Corey Davis was drafted in the first round just a year ago, but he's yet to show that ability to just take a game over. There have been flashes, but that is really about it. I was impressed with Tajae Sharpe and the way he played against the Los Angeles Chargers. It appears that the coaches are trying to get him more involved in the game plan each week, and he's responded well to the extra work.
Defensively, the Cowboys have played well in this first half of the season and will present a serious challenge to this Titans offense that lacks fire power. For the Titans to win this game their offense is going to have to take some chances down the field and finish drives with touchdowns. Trying to nickel and dime their way down the field will result in them getting knocked off the field by this defense.
Dallas has been a different animal at home than they've been on the road, and knowing this the Titans had better be ready to trust Marcus Mariota and open up the offense a bit more.