For all the criticism of Tony Romo and the Dallas Cowboys, they could find themselves tied for the NFC East lead on Sunday night if they can pull an upset at Baltimore, where the Ravens have won 13 straight games. This is the first meeting between the teams since 2008.
Dallas (2-2) was on a bye last week and it was needed after Romo threw five interceptions in a Monday night 34-18 loss to Chicago last time out. Romo registered 307 yards and a score through the air on 31-of-43 passing for the Cowboys.
Jason Witten caught 13 balls for 112 yards and a score, while Dez Bryant hauled in eight passes for 105 yards in the setback.
The Cowboys didn’t run much against Chicago, continuing a problem. The unit that ran for 143 yards in a season-opening victory vs. the Giants is now 29th in the NFL, averaging just 68 yards per game. DeMarco Murray had 131 yards on 20 carries in the opener, the first time the restructured offensive line played together.
Since then, he has just 106 yards on 41 carries. That includes two 11-yard carries, one for his only touchdown. Murray averaged 5.5 yards on his 164 carries last season, but is down to 3.9 yards per carry this year. Take out a 48-yard run against the Giants and his two 11-yard gains since, and he is averaging only 2.9 yards his other 58 rushing attempts.
The Cowboys tend to get pass-happy but would be smart to pound the rock this week. The Ravens have been inconsistent (allowing 214 yards versus the Chiefs in Week 5) defending the run. Look for Jason Garrett to make a concerted effort to control the tempo of the game on the ground by getting the ball to Murray and Felix Jones.
Only two teams in the league — the Eagles and Jaguars — are averaging fewer points per game than the Cowboys, and the Cowboys’ average in their last three games is only 13.7 points per game.
Baltimore escaped a Kansas City upset last week, winning 9-6. Ray Rice carried the ball 17 times for 102 yards and added a 16-yard catch while Joe Flacco was a mediocre 13-for-27 with 187 yards and an interception for the Ravens (4-1), who have won three straight after dropping a game in Philadelphia. Anquan Boldin had four catches for 82 yards.
Ravens WRs Torrey Smith and Jacoby Jones have struggled in their games against the Eagles and Kansas City, when they were pressed at the line of scrimmage and forced to play physical with the opposing cornerbacks.
Baltimore will likely look to use more bunch formations and put their receivers in motion in order to free them up at the line of scrimmage.
VEGASSPORTSBETTING ODDS: Ravens -3.5 (44)
COWBOYS : QB Tony Romo threw TD in last game, his 154th of career, & passed HOFer Roger Staubach (153) for 3rd most in team history. Romo aims for 3rd win in row vs. AFC. In career, when Romo starts & has 100 rating (min. 10 att.), Cowboys are 34-8 (.810) … In past 2 vs. AFC, RB DeMarco Murray has rushed for 222 yards (111 per game) & TD. Has 4 130-yard rush games in career & team is 4-0 in those contests …
TE Jason Witten had 13 catches for 112 yards & TD in last game. Had 5 catches for 87 yards & TD in last meeting. Since 2007, has 465 catches, 2nd most by NFL TE. In Week 4, Witten (112 yards) & WR Dez Bryant (105) each had 100-yard game, 1st time 2 Cowboys had 100 rec. yards in same game since 9/18/11. In past 9 vs. AFC, WR Miles Austin has 57 catches for 980 yards (108.9 per game) & 6 TDs.
Austin has TD catch or 100 yards in 7 of past 8, incl. TD in Week 4 … LB DeMarcus Ware has 30.5 sacks in past 23. Since 2006, has 96.5 sacks, most in NFL. Ware has 3 sacks & 3 FFs in past 2. Had sack & 2 FFs in last game vs. Bal. DT Josh Brent had 1st career sack in Week 4.
RAVENS : Club has won 13 consecutive reg.-sea. home games, longest active streak in NFL … Ravens are 11-6 vs. NFC under head coach John Harbaugh … QB Joe Flacco is 8-0 at home vs. NFC & has 13 TDs vs. 3 INTs & 98.7 rating. For career, Flacco has 30-5 (.857) record at home. Ravens are 25-2 (.926) when he has 100 rating …
Last week vs. KC, RB Ray Rice posted 15th career game with 100 rush yards & Ravens are 13-2 (.867) in such games…WR Torrey Smith is averaging 112 rec. yards per game in past 2 at home. In past 2, WR Anquan Boldin has 13 catches for 213 yards. Since ’03, Boldin ranks 2nd in NFL among WRs with 730 rec. (Reggie Wayne, 822) …
C Matt Birk will play in 200th career game … Defense allows 17.8 pts per game, 2nd-lowest in AFC (Hou., 14.6) … S Ed Reed has 3 INTs in 2 career games vs. Cowboys … CB Cary Williams aims for 3rd consecutive game with INT. CB Lardarius Webb registered 1st INT of season last week.
VEGAS TRENDS: Cowboys are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games following a S.U. loss. Cowboys are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games following a SU loss of more than 14 points. Cowboys are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games when playing on Sunday following a Monday night game. Cowboys are 1-5 ATS in their last 6 games overall.
Cowboys are 1-6 ATS in their last 7 games following a ATS loss. Ravens are 6-2-1 ATS in their last 9 games in Week 6. Ravens are 5-2 ATS in their last 7 games after allowing less than 150 yards passing in their previous game. Ravens are 11-5 ATS in their last 16 games after scoring less than 15 points in their previous game. Ravens are 1-5 ATS in their last 6 home games.