Friday, September 17, 2010

Everything's bigger in Texas--especially Cowboys Stadium

The Bears and Cowboys faced off just twice in the aughts (is that what we say? The aughts?), with the Cowboys winning by 14 in 2004 and by 24 in 2007. In fact, the Bears haven't toppled Jerry Jones's boys since 1998 when Erik Kramer and Edgar Bennett led them to a 13-12 victory.

The pundits have the Cowboys anywhere from a Super Bowl contender to an overrated sub-.500 team this year. Their fans are no doubt a little concerned after an ugly 13-7 loss to the Redskins Sunday night in which they committed 12 penalties including one on the final play that cost them the win. Their defense looked strong, however, as seven of Washington's 13 points came as the result of a boneheaded play at the end of the first half in which a Tony Romo screen pass led to a fumble return for a touchdown.

This will be the first game of 2010 at the new Cowboys Stadium where Dallas was 6-2 last year. The 80,000+ fans will no doubt be pumped, the Cowboys will be desperate to avoid starting the season 0-2, and the Bears will get a big road test after failing six of eight times away
from home last season.

Keys to the Game

How good will Marc Colombo be in his first game back? It's likely that the right tackle (and former Bear) will in fact be back after missing the opener due to a knee injury. His absence cost the Cowboys dearly as his replacement Alex Barron committed multiple penalties including the one at the end of the game. But will Colombo be ready for a full 60 minutes of action?

Contain Miles Austin. Dallas is clearly out to prove that Austin's surprise success last year was no fluke--he caught 10 passes for 146 yards last week along with a TD, amassing more than half of his team's receiving yards. It's unlikely the Bears will be able to shut him down completely, and containing him may require some double teams even with Dez Bryant and Roy Williams on the field with him.

Win the turnover battle. Rather obvious, of course, but a glaring issue after the Bears fumbled away three balls and threw an interception against Detroit. The Cowboys essentially lost their opener on the end-of-first-half fumble as well. This could be a tight game and turnovers, as always, could be crucial.

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