Two teams desperately seeking victories to stay afloat in their respective playoff races square off Sunday in Week 10 NFL action. The surprising Buffalo Bills travel to football’s biggest stage to take on the Dallas Cowboys.
After beginning the season in wildly impressive fashion, positing key victories over both the Eagles and Patriots, the Bills looked quite ordinary last week at home against the Jets. They were unable to get their prolific offense going, and were picked apart by Mark Sanchez on defense. This is a big game for Buffalo as they hope to keep their playoffs hope alive and stay close to both New England and the Jets in the competitive AFC East.
The Cowboys ply their trade in the always competitive NFC East, though with the Redskins badly fading and the Eagles mired in disarray, it looks like it could be a two-horse race between them and the Giants for the division. Dallas has had to endure its fair share of injuries this season, and though key wide-out Miles Austin will miss the next 2-4 weeks, Laurent Robinson has more than filled the void posting back-to-back solid performances. For Dallas to solidify a playoff spot in the competitive NFC, these games at home are ones that must be won. After getting demolished by the Eagles two weeks prior, the team responded last week with a comfortable win over Seattle. With a string of four very winnable games upcoming, starting with the Bills, the Cowboys know they need to run the table before a key showdown December 11th against the Giants.
Bills vs. Cowboys Spread, Line, and Betting Odds:
Buffalo Bills +5.5 (-110)
@ Dallas Cowboys -5.5 (-110)
Over 48 (-110)
Under 48 (-110)
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Bills vs. Cowboys Pick:
You can’t help but think the Buffalo Bills are on the verge of regressing to the mean. They overachieved drastically at the outset of the 2011 season, but last week’s performance was particularly eye-opening. They were dominated in every facet of the game, and couldn’t get their strengths going against a mean Jets squad. Now they enter football’s biggest stage in a game where the home team desperately needs a victory, with a porous run defense taking on one of the league’s emerging tailbacks in DeMarco Murray. It is certainly a tall task for the Bills in Dallas, and they will be hard pressed to leave with a win considering how well the Cowboys play in front of their home crowd.
For Buffalo to be successful they’ll have to key on tight end Jason Witten of the Cowboys. With Austin out, Tony Romo will need to find a new favourite target, and though Robinson and Dez Bryant are talented pass catchers, Witten is about as reliable as they come. The Bills always struggle with tight ends, and it wouldn’t be a shock to see Buffalo’s young linebackers get badly exposed by the Cowboys’ reception leader on Sunday.
Additionally, DeMarco Murray has come out of nowhere to become one of the game’s most dominant running backs. The man cannot be stopped, and if he is eventually going to slow down, it surely will not be against the awful run defense the Bills employ. He is currently averaging 6.7 yards per carry, and will shred through the Bills defensive front all afternoon long. If the Cowboys can get a lead in the early stages, it will be great news for them, as it will put less strain on the mistake-prone Romo, and into the sure hands of Murray to control the game clock and wear down a vulnerable Buffalo defense.
Though Austin is out for the Cowboys, they’ll be excited to welcome back key linebacker Sean Lee on defense. Lee will be integral in keeping Fred Jackson in check, as he leads the team in both tackles and interceptions. The Dallas run defense, like their counterparts, has been inconsistent at times and will need to focus on shutting down what can be an explosive Buffalo attack. Defensive end DeMarcus Ware has been unstoppable this season boasting 12 sacks already, and is a lock to wreak havoc on Ryan Fitzpatrick after making short work of an exploitable O-Line on the Bills side.
Ultimately the Cowboys offense will just be too much for a Buffalo defense that has proven it can’t be trusted if it doesn’t come up with key turnovers. They’ll be in tough against an experienced, and balanced offense, and expect Romo to play a conservative game hitting Witten on short passes and handing the ball off to Murray with regularity. Dallas should assert their imposing physicality on both sides of the ball, en route to a comfortable win while further bolstering their hopes for post-season action in Big D.