When the Dallas Cowboys travel to M&T Bank Stadium to take on the Baltimore Ravens, they will be looking to rebound from an embarrassing loss to the Chicago Bears (1pm ET Sunday).
Coming off a bye, the Cowboys should be well rested and well prepared for this game, which could be a must-win. Despite the team currently just a game behind Philadelphia and New York for the NFC East lead, Dallas has not shown itself to be a contender for the playoffs. In addition, the Cowboys have a tough schedule going forward and winning against Baltimore could give them much needed confidence going forward.
Then there is Baltimore
Sitting at 4-1 on the season and in first place in the AFC North, the Baltimore Ravens have done almost everything right this season. Their lone loss came to the Philadelphia Eagles. Even then it was a game that may have been impacted by a poor call made down the stretch by replacement referees.
Since losing to the Eagles, the Ravens have gone on to win three in a row including a 31-30 victory over the New England Patriots.
Although the Ravens have been good, they really have not done anything spectacular this season. Their offense is ranked in the top 15 in both passing (9th) and rushing (13th) but surprisingly enough it has been their defense that has proven to be a bit of a liability.
That said, Tony Romo’s Cowboys have not exactly been offensive juggernauts as of late. Against Baltimore they will need to step into a new gear and wake up before it’s too late because if Dallas doesn’t watch it, they will be pulling the panic button sooner rather than later.
Can the Cowboys Fix QB Tony Romo?
At times in his career, some have called for Cowboys’ quarterback Tony Romo to be considered among the elite. No, he has never won a Superbowl championship and yes, he has only won one playoff game in ten seasons as a pro, but despite these things, he has put together solid regular season numbers for quite some time.
While there are those that think Romo deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as Peyton and Eli Manning, Drew Brees or Aaron Rodgers, there are others of course that see that as fallacy.
For as good as Romo is at times, there are just as many times it seems, that he fails to meet the task in front of him. He has yet to find consistency to put together a full season of solid performances. He always seems to shy away from the big game and when under pressure, he is not great at opening up the pocket and finding open receivers. The most recent game the Cowboys played against Chicago offers a prime example.
- 2012 Stats for QB Tony Romo: 1,148 yards, 66.9 CMP%, 5 TD, 8 INT, QBR- 47%
- Tony Romo vs. Chicago Bears 2012: 307 yards, 72.1 CMP%, 1 TD, 5 INT, QBR- 14.2%
It is remarkable how accurate and how on target Romo has been this season, especially considering the amount of dropped passes between two of his best receiving options: wide receiver Dez Bryant and tight end Jason Witten. He has had two games where he had a 72% completion rate or above. Both of those games, he also threw for over 300 yards. He has four touchdowns and six interceptions in these games as well.
What Has Happened to the Ravens Defense?
For a defense that perennially ranks in the top five in all categories, it is completely puzzling to see Baltimore’s name near the bottom of the defensive ranks. Despite winning four of five games this season, the Ravens are posting the league’s 23rd best passing defense allowing 261.4 yards a game and the league’s 20th worst rushing defense, yielding 118.4 yards a game. They are ranked 24th in the league in total yards given up with 379.8 yet at the same time are only giving up 17.8 points, good enough for seventh best in the NFL.
With a weakened rushing attack, an opening is left for Cowboys’ running back Demarco Murray. Although Murray has not been the best running back in the league, he has been solid for Dallas. He has carried the ball 69 times for 237 yards and one touchdown. Although he has struggled as of late, Murray will see a favorable matchup against Baltimore and could find himself getting some important carries during the course of the game.
To continue on the theme of the Ravens’ defense, while the numbers might not seem so promising in terms of yards allowed, the Ravens still have a great defense spurred on once again by the emotional leader, linebacker Ray Lewis and safety Ed Reed. On the season, Lewis has 43 tackles and a forced fumble. Reed leads the team with his two interceptions. Overall, the Ravens have six interceptions and 12 forced turnovers in all to rank fourth highest in the NFL.
Home Cooking for the Ravens
While Baltimore lays it all on the line each week, there is just something about playing at home that really brings the best out of the team. Under coach John Harbaugh, the team is enjoying a 13-game winning streak when playing at home in Baltimore.
In addition to the streak, Baltimore’s offense also performs better at home statistically. On the road, the Ravens have scored just 32 points in two games while turning the ball over four times as well. At home however, the team has averaged 32.7 points and 457 yards a game.
Even QB Joe Flacco is better at home averaging 345.7 pass yards with six touchdowns when playing in front of the Baltimore fans.
Cowboys v Ravens Picks & Preview Verdict
Putting this season and the results aside, history doesn’t bode well for the Cowboys in this matchup. Overall, the Ravens are 24-5-1 when against NFC opponents at home including an 8-0 mark dating back to 2008. Also, the Cowboys have never beaten the Ravens in three tries, losing handedly to them as the road team.
Dallas (+160 on the moneyline with BetOnline Sportsbook) really hasn’t given me enough to believe that they can stack up against Baltimore. The spread is small at just 3.5 points but in a home environment and coming off a mediocre win against Cleveland expect Baltimore to really step it up.
- Pick the Ravens to cover the -3.5 points spread with BetOnline Sportsbook @ odds of -105 (it is currently slightly worse value at -4 points for the same odds with Bovada). If you are not American then place this bet with Bet365.