Week 16: Ravens-Cowboys Preview

Dec. 20, 2008, 11:59 AM

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Game Info:
Kickoff: 8:15 p.m. (ET)
Site: Texas Stadium (65,559) • Irving, Tx.
TV: NFL Network
Announcers: Bob Papa (play-by-play) Deion Sanders (color ) Marshall Faulk (color)
Overview – The deal is simple for the Ravens at this point in the season. If they win out, they make the playoffs. They control their own destiny. That is all any team can ask for while they make a push for the post season. There will be a bunch of extra hype surrounding tonight’s game as it is the final regular season game in Texas Stadium’s history.

MATCHUPS

Ravens Offense vs. Cowboys Defense – With the Cowboys defense, everything starts with linebacker DeMarcus Ware. He is as talented as they come when it comes to getting pressure on the quarterback. He leads the NFL with 19 sacks. Ravens tackle Jared Gaither did an excellent job against the Steelers’ James Harrison last week, it will be interesting to see if he can hold his own against one of…if not the best pass rusher in the NFL. Joe Flacco simply cannot make any costly picks. He will feel the pressure. If he can spot the holes left from the Dallas blitzes in time, he could have a very decent game. The Ravens rushing attack should have a but more success than they experienced against Pittsburgh.

Cowboys Offense vs. Ravens Defense – This will be a very exciting matchup to watch. How will Tony Romo and T.O. fare against the likes of Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, and Terrell Suggs? I think Terrell Owens has a clear advantage over the Ravens’ corners. He is bigger, faster, and stronger than any of the players who could be covering him (Frank Walker, Fabian Washington, Corey Ivy, Samari Rolle). It wouldn’t surprise me if Dallas gets him involved early and often. Marion Barber missed practice on Friday and most likely will not play. This leaves Tashard Choice the job of running against a very tough Baltimore defense. The Ravens have gone 33 straight games without allowing a 100 yard rusher. That streak dates back two calendar years to December 10, 2006, when Kansas City’s Larry Johnson ran for 120 yards. I think it is safe to say the Ravens have the advantage here. If Tony Romo gets time to throw tonight, it could be a long game for the Ravens. They need to get pressure on him to have any chance of winning. Last year’s Divisional playoff game in which the Giants got to Romo from all angles comes to mind.

The Prediction – The Ravens need this game badly. I think they have a real shot at winning only if they play near perfect football. There is no way they can expect to beat a team as talented as Dallas if penalties and turnovers are happening left and right. There is no room for error. So I think the Ravens play a solid game tonight, but the ‘Boys will be a little better and close Texas Stadium with a hard fought win. COWBOYS 27-17

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