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Game Thoughts from Blogging the Boys

The Dallas Cowboys blog here at SB Nation, Blogging the Boys, exchanged a quick game preview with me for our respective teams.  My report for the Lions is posted over at his blog. Here is the preview by Grizz on the Cowboys.

The castle or the outhouse. That's how Bill Parcells described the situation of the Dallas Cowboys according to everybody who's not part of the organization. The whole NFL-watching public currently has the Cowboys in the outhouse based on their stunning deconstruction by the Eagles on Christmas. The Cowboys were so thoroughly whipped in every phase of the game that the normally silent Terry Glenn even spoke out about the lack of offensive output. All week people have been trying to bury the Cowboys, but Parcells is working to keep them alive. With the playoffs a certainty for the team, the Cowboys desperately need to get back on track and try to rebuild their confidence. That's where the Lions game comes in. Dallas is a wounded animal who needs a kill.

For most of the year, when the offense was up, down or sideways, the Cowboys could rely on their defense. But once Greg Ellis went down to injury, the defense started a rapid descent downhill. Without his presence on one side of the line, teams are keying on DeMarcus Ware and the pass rush has become ineffective. The Dallas safeties are a liability in pass coverage and teams continually strike at that vulnerability. The cornerbacks are good, and generally the run defense is good - although the Eagles had no problem - so teams like to throw deep and down the middle, or out on the edges against the linebackers. The Cowboys run a 3-4 defense, but there are rumblings that they might employ the 4-3 in this game to try and get some pressure on Kitna.

On offense, the stories in the press focus on Tony Romo and Terrell Owens. Romo came out of the gate with unexpected success, but has cooled over the last month. Owens leads the league in TD receptions, but also leads the league in drops and drama. The running game has Julius Jones as the 1st and 2nd down back, and Marion Barber as the 3rd down back and goal line specialist. If the Cowboys get into the redzone, they usually turn to Barber to get them in the endzone. The Cowboys are a balanced attack, relying equally on the run and the pass. The soft spot is the offensive line, which can be adequate or it can be atrocious. We never know which one will show up.

Dallas needs a victory bad, and they need a convincing one. Expect them to come out strong and throw everything they have at the Lions. If they lose this game, success in the playoffs will remain a dream. They need this game to springboard them into a playoff run.