Tennessee Titans at Dallas Cowboys preview

The Tennessee Titans (2-2) will look to rebound from last week’s home loss to the Broncos as they travel to Texas this week for a visit to the 1-2 Dallas Cowboys in a game that will be shown to most of the country.

Both teams will be looking to continue their winning ways in interconference play this year.  The Titans beat the Giants, 29-10 in their first visit to a new NFC East stadium.  The Cowboys, meanwhile, obtained their only win this season two weeks ago in Reliant Stadium, toppling the Texans 24-7 before enjoying last week’s bye.

Some keys to the game after the jump…

Don’t let the Cowboys set the edge.
As Broncos head coach Josh McDaniels noted in his post-game press conference, the Broncos rushed both their outside linebackers almost every play to prevent Chris Johnson from getting outside.  Both outside linebackers, DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer, are better than any outside linebacker the Broncos have, especially in terms of pass rush ability.  The Titans need to contain both of them for Chris Johnson and the offense to be successful.

Throw the ball well on third down.
While Vince Young played fairly well against the Broncos,  I found his play on third down pretty unimpressive.  He’ll almost certainly see more of a pass rush from the Cowboys than he did last week, from both Ware and Spencer and also from nose tackle Jay Ratliff, and will need to handle it better than he did the pressure the Steelers brought.

Don’t get overpowered by the Cowboys offensive line.
The play-calling hasn’t always reflected it, but the strength of the Cowboys offensive line is literally that-their ability to physically overwhelm opposing blockers.  The Titans tend to prefer smaller defensive linemen, so they’ll have to use their edge in quickness to offset the size disadvantage while also trying not to get burned by the freeze draw.

Avoid coverage busts.
The Cowboys scored two touchdowns against the Texans when Roy Williams beat the corner at the line and the rest of the defense wasn’t able to recover in time.  Alterraun Verner and Cortland Finnegan can’t make the same mistake this week.  The Cowboys may also look to isolate Jason Witten against whichever of Jamie Winborn or Gerald McRath is in the game; as the Giants showed, that (against Winborn) can be a successful strategy when you have a talented tight end.

I’m not a big predictions kind of guy, so I won’t give you a final score.  The Cowboys are probably better than their 1-2 record indicates, as they outplayed the Redskins in a loss and greatly outplayed the Texans.  The money has them as a 7-point favorite; even with the standard home field edge, that feels a little high to me.  This year, though, the Cowboys have been the better team, and it wouldn’t surprise me to see them walk away the victor on Sunday, no matter how much I’ll be rooting against that outcome.

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