DALLAS vs. OAKLAND
Kickoff: 3:30 p.m., AT&T Stadium
TV: 3:30 p.m., CBS
Radio: Noon, 105.3 The Fan
Records: Dallas 6-5, Oakland 4-7
Series: Oakland leads, 6-4
Last meeting: Dallas, 24-7 (2009, in Dallas)
Betting line: Dallas -9.5
Weather: 50 degrees, 0% chance of rain
On Sunday, the Cowboys gave their fans something to be thankful for as Romo led another game-winning drive in the fourth quarter as they defeated the Giants to complete the season sweep (first time since 2007). Now the team has a quick turnaround as they take on a Raiders team that is 0-3 against the NFC East and losers of three of their last four. The good news is that the Boys are 4-1 at home and 19-1 in the Jason Garrett era against teams below .500. Let’s see how these two teams match up:
Dallas offense vs. Oakland defense
The running game was solid last week against a good New York run defense as DeMarco Murray ran for 86 yards on 14 carries while Lance Dunbar was effective in limited capacity as well (46 yards on five touches). The Giants' defense didn’t allow anything deep, so the Cowboys’ offense took what they gave them, which included throwing to the running backs as Dunbar and Murray combined for five receptions for 56 yards. Romo threw for 250 yards and two touchdowns, but was sacked four times. Miles Austin even made an appearance as he had one reception for 17 yards.
The Oakland defense struggles against the pass (ranked 25th) but is good against the run (ranked eighth). The Raiders are coming off a loss in which they allowed 320 yards passing and two touchdowns to the Titans’ Ryan Fitzpatrick (his season high).
It looks like the bye week allowed Romo, Dez and the running game to get back on track. Going up against the Oakland defense shouldn’t derail it.
Dallas defense vs. Oakland offense
Morris Claiborne’s hamstring acted up again in the Giants game, which meant B.W. Webb got way too much playing time. Webb was the guy New York picked on all game including the fourth-quarter touchdown to bring the score to within two points (21-19).
Matt McGloin started for Oakland in the Tennessee loss instead of Terrelle Pryor, who was healthy enough to be his backup. The Raiders are much more dynamic with Pryor starting as he has thrown for more than 1,500 yards and rushed for over 500 this season. Starting running back, Rashard Jennings, is averaging more than five yards per carry this season for a rushing offense ranked fifth in the league.
The Dallas defense is banged up, but they did hold the Giants to only 356 yards, which is an improvement for the league’s worst defense. They also scored another touchdown as Jeff Heath scored after Victor Cruz fumbled the ball right into his hands. Dallas’ red zone defense was strong last week and they always seem to be opportunistic with turnovers (a terrible penalty negated another turnover).
The Oakland offense is not firing on all cylinders which should allow Dallas to get a few more turnovers on Thursday.
Note: Darren McFadden (hamstring) could be back against the Cowboys.
Oakland QB vs. Dallas secondary: When your passing defense is 31st in the league, confidence is not at an all-time high, but Orlando Scandrick is playing well. The secondary held Eli Manning to a pedestrian 174 yards and he was only 16-of-30 for the day. Whether it's McGloin or Pryor, this is one game where the secondary has a shot at respectability.
Dan Bailey hit the game-winner with no time remaining on Sunday. With that field goal, Bailey has now made nine consecutive attempts.
Superstar Dwayne Harris didn’t practice on Monday and is questionable for Thursday’s game. If Harris can’t go, Cole Beasley will be the primary return man. Beasley is capable, but he is a significant drop off from Harris.
Oakland’s Taiwan Jones is a solid kick returner while Sebastian Janikowski missed two field goals last week and is only 15-of-22 on the season.
On a short week, the home team has the advantage and, as mentioned above, Dallas is 4-1 at home this season. Meanwhile, Oakland is 1-4 this year on the road. Also, it might be cliché, but the Cowboys control their own destiny with five games remaining and a 4-0 NFC East division record. If Dallas wins, then something crazy would’ve happened: a winning streak.
Did You Know?
The Cowboys are 28-15-1 all-time on Thanksgiving while the Raiders are 3-3 including the last time they faced the Cowboys (24-7 loss in 2009).
The More You Know…
Prediction: Dallas 35, Oakland 20
Eddie Middlebrook is the co-host of “Chin Music” and VP of Media for ShutDowninning. He can be reached at Eddie.Middlebrook@ShutDowninning.com or on Twitter @emiddlebrook