Baltimore Ravens at Dallas Cowboys
November 19, 2016
This will be the fifth regular-season meeting with Baltimore Ravens leading the all-time series, 4-0. The Dallas Cowboys are the only team in the NFL that has not earned a victory against the Ravens, who have scored 30 or more points in three of the four games. Baltimore won the most previous matchup 31-29 on Oct. 14, 2012, at M&T Bank Stadium. The Ravens also handed the Cowboys a loss in the final game at Texas Stadium in 2008.
Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco will look to take shots downfield when receivers Breshad Perriman and Mike Wallace get on-on-one matchups. He will have an opportunity to throw deep against a Dallas secondary that is dealing with several injuries.
Rookie Dak Prescott will try for his ninth victory but first as the official starter as opposed to a possible place-holder for franchise icon Tony Romo. Expected to suit up this Sunday, Romo openly and graciously acknowledged his role will be as a backup. In a dramatic press conference Tuesday, Romo said Prescott "earned the right to be our quarterback." Romo (back) is listed as questionable on the injury report but is expected to be in uniform.
On to the game.
The Cowboys have the league's best rush offense and the league's top runner in rookie Ezekiel Elliott, who has 1,005 yards through nine games. The Ravens are giving up just 3.3 yards per carry and 71.3 yards per game. The Cowboys want to run to continue to take pressure off Prescott, control the ball and keep the defense off the field.
The Cowboys will again try to impose their will on the ground against a stingy Ravens front. That's been their formula for success all season. They are not changing now.
The Ravens must set the tone early with defense and let their offense get into sync without needing to play from too far behind. As a result, look for Baltimore to bring the pressure, although measured to fill the gaps or Elliott will find the openings as he did against Pittsburgh.
While the Dallas offense gets the attention, its defense has been solid as well. Baltimore needs to get a run game revved up to control the clock and keep the Cowboys' offense off the field. Ravens offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg has stayed committed to the ground game even when the running backs have struggled to find yards. That will continue against Dallas to take some of the pressure off quarterback Joe Flacco, who is just 3-4 when forced to throw 40 or more passes this season.
Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott vs. Ravens DT Timmy Jernigan. Jernigan is one the game's top defensive players. He has been a force all season on a Ravens defense that is ranked No. 1 in the league vs. the run. Jernigan and the rest of his unit, however, will face its biggest test against Elliott, who is having an MVP-caliber season and leads the NFL with 1,005 yards and has scored nine touchdowns. Jernigan battled a shoulder injury in practice this week and is questionable.
Ravens receivers vs. Cowboys secondary. Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco likes to take an occasional shot downfield, especially when speedy receivers Breshad Perriman and Mike Wallace get on-on-one matchups. He will have an opportunity to throw deep against a Dallas secondary that is dealing with several injuries. Both safety Barry Church and cornerback Morris Claiborne are expected to miss the game, while veteran cornerback Orlando Scandrick will likely be able to return. Dallas will try to keep the pressure of Flacco to prevent him from looking downfield.
Ravens WR Breshad Perriman. Last year's first-round pick has improved steadily each week and notched his first career touchdown reception against the Browns. Perriman's rookie season ended in training camp when he suffered a partially torn posterior cruciate ligament in his right knee. Another knee injury in this year's OTAs put him on the PUP until Aug. 18. Perriman is finally starting to look more fluid in his routes and could be a difference maker against the Cowboys.
Ravens QB Joe Flacco was 30 of 41 for 296 yards and a season-high three touchdowns last Sunday, completing at least 70 percent of his throws for the 29th time in his career. Dallas has allowed opponents to complete at least 70 percent in five straight games, the longest streak in franchise history.
Cowboys rookie RB Ezekiel Elliott ran for 114 yards and two touchdowns last weekend, going over the 1,000-yard mark and giving him nine rush TDs, tied for second in the NFL. Elliott had an 83-yard scoring catch against the Steelers, becoming the first player with a 60-yard TD run and an 80-yard TD reception in the same season since Gale Sayers in 1965.
We thought the Steelers just might stop the Cowboys last week in Pittsburgh. But we missed that prediction when Dallas, behind a great OL and MVP candidate Ezekiel Elliott, took the game to a higher level when necessary. Impressive stuff.