Tag Archives: NFL Schedule

NFL ANNOUNCES 2014 MATCHUPS: Here’s a look at the Dallas Cowboys 2014 2015 home and away opponents

The Dallas Cowboys schedule for next season is mostly set. Only one date — the team will travel across the pond to face Jacksonville in London on Nov. 9 — is known. The dates and times for the other 15 games will be announced in the spring.

The Cowboys have to face the AFC South and NFC West next season. Only four of their opponents won fewer than seven games this season.

The full 2014-2015 NFL schedule with times and dates will be released in April.

Dallas Cowboys 2014 home games: Dallas Cowboys 2014 road games:
New York Giants (7-9) New York Giants (7-9)
Philadelphia (10-6) Philadelphia (10-6)
Washington (3-13) Washington (3-13)
Arizona (10-6) St. Louis (7-9)
San Francisco (12-4) Seattle (13-3)
Houston (2-14) Jacksonville (4-12) — at London
Indianapolis (11-5) Tennessee (7-9)
New Orleans (11-5)

Chicago (8-8)

Here’s a look at the entire NFC East home and away opponents for the upcoming 2014-2015 NFL season:

  

2014 2015 NFL Schedule 2014 2015 - 2014 2015 Dallas Cowboys Schedule 2014 2015 - 2014 2015 Dallas Cowboys Scheduled matchups  2014 2015


This website keeps the DALLAS COWBOYS schedule information continually updated. When you visit, click on the NFL SCHEDULES button for the latest schedules and calendar announcements.

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NFL SCHEDULE CHANGE 2013 2014: Philadelphia Eagles vs. Chicago Bears flexed to NBC’s Sunday Night Football in Week 16

Eagles Football

Chip Kelly’s Philadelphia Eagles and Marc Trestman’s Chicago Bears have emerged as two of the more entertaining teams in the league, late this season.

The NFL acknowledged as much today, announcing that the Week 16 Bears at Eagles game on December 22 will be flexed to 7:30 p.m. CT on NBC. That tilt will replace the New England Patriots-Baltimore Ravens game, which will move to 3:25 p.m. CT on CBS.

It’s a minor surprise that two traditional AFC powerhouses are being displaced, but this change is a nod to the potential ratings edge of two fresh teams with innovative offenses. There’s also the possibility of the Eagles or Bears clinching the NFC East and NFC North respectively.

Both games are attractive matchups. The big winner might just be CBS, which is granted the premier AFC battle of the afternoon.

If the NFC East isn’t decided until the season finale, the Eagles could find themselves being flexed into the Sunday night game in back-to-back weeks.

Get your popcorn ready.

2014-2015 DALLAS COWBOYS SCHEDULE: NFL announces three London dates for 2014 season

NFL INTERNATIONAL SERIES - League doesn't anticipate London Super Bowl despite U.K. success - 2014-2015 Dallas Cowboys to play in London

LONDON — The NFL has announced the dates of its three regular-season games in London next year, with the Dallas Cowboys playing the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 10 on Nov. 9.

The first game will be played in Week 4 on Sept. 28, with the Oakland Raiders facing the Miami Dolphins.

A month later, in Week 8, the Atlanta Falcons will play the Detroit Lions on Oct. 26.

All the games will be played at Wembley Stadium.

The teams and matchups had been previously announced. The Raiders, Falcons and Jaguars are the designated home teams.

The NFL has been playing regular-season games at Wembley since 2007.

There were two games in London this year, with Minnesota beating Pittsburgh 34-27 on Sept. 29 and San Francisco defeating Jacksonville 42-10 on Oct. 27.

UPDATE APRIL 9, 2014: The NFL released this year’s preseason schedule, with many specific dates still to be determined. None of the Cowboys’ preseason games this year are scheduled to be nationally televised.

Dallas Cowboys Preseason Schedule

Week 1: @ San Diego Chargers

Week 2: vs. Baltimore Ravens

Week 3: @ Miami Dolphins

Aug. 28: vs. Denver Broncos

Stay up-to-date with the latest Dallas Cowboys schedules and calendars on the page below … 

NFL Dallas Cowboys 2014 2015 schedules - 2014 2015 Dallas Cowboys schedule 2014 2015

NFL Dallas Cowboys 2014 2015 schedules – 2014 2015 Dallas Cowboys schedule 2014 2015

WHEELS DOWN IN MOTOWN: Dallas Cowboys vs. Detroit Lions Pregame Preview Primer | Pregame Scouting Report

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Dallas Cowboys On The Road – Pregame Preview (3:03)

Dallas Cowboys beat writers check-in from Detroit Lions turf. (Watch Video | Play Audio)


Dallas Cowboys Detroit Lions

Their Nemesis: DeMarcus Ware

Last week against the Philadelphia Eagles, DeMarcus Ware sat out of the game with a quad injury, which was the first time he had missed a game in his career. Management may opt to hold him out one more week. If he’s not ready to go, Kyle Wilber will step into the spotlight, along with Jason Vega.

In five games against the Lions during his career, Ware has notched 64 tackles, 3.5 sacks and 3 tackles for loss. He will be battling Riley Reiff, who is in his second season as the starter at left tackle. Reiff is the type of tackle who Ware tends to have his most success against.

Reiff is not a powerful setter and tends to catch blocks, which allows the defender to get some push on him. Against the Rams, Jake Long set soft and Ware had a field day with him. Reiff is very athletic, which will help him against Ware when he tries to take him wide around the edge. But like we saw with Long, Ware can hit him with a straight bull rush, then play off that. If Reiff feels like he is going to have to deal with power all day, it should help him in other areas of the game.

Our Nemesis: Calvin Johnson

On Sunday, two of the best receivers in professional football will be on the field when the Lions face the Cowboys. As tough as this matchup will be for the Lions to have to cover Dez Bryant, the Cowboys are going to have their own issues dealing with Calvin Johnson.

Both these receivers are so similar in the way they play, you could put Bryant in a Lions uniform and Johnson in a Cowboys uniform and you would not be able to tell the difference. Johnson is as dynamic as it comes for a receiver. He can run his routes anywhere and at any level to find a way to get open. He can separate with his stride, and, no matter where the ball is thrown, he will find a way to make a catch.

He is a powerful player who plays well in the air. Any opportunity to catch a jump ball, it is his. The Lions can line him up either on the outside or in the slot, and he is productive. The closer he gets to the goal line, the more physical he gets. He likes to use his hands to push and shove to by space, and he will not just run fade routes in the red zone — you will see him run the slant as well. He’s one of those receivers that just keeps coming after you down-after-down.

Our Weapon: Dez Bryant

These Lions corners have had to deal with some outstanding receivers this season: Larry Fitzgerald, Pierre Garcon, Brandon Marshall and A.J. Green. They practice every day against Calvin Johnson, which is a chore in itself, but Dez Bryant will present a different set of challenges for them.

Unless you have lined up and faced Bryant, he is a different cat. Of the two starting cornerbacks for the Lions, I thought that Chris Houston was the better of the two. If Jason Garrett and Bill Callahan decide they want to attack one side of the field, Rashean Mathis is that guy. Mathis does have quickness to run with anyone that he faces, but he is not the most physical of cover guys.

Opponents have had success attacking him inside on routes, and he has done little to fight them from doing that. Naturally, the way that Bryant plays during a game will give him a great deal of problems. When Bryant gets into the flow of a game, and he is out to prove a point, like he will be in this game, physically he will be too much for Mathis to handle.  In two career games against the Lions, Bryant has caught six balls and three of those catches resulted in touchdowns. Expect the same on Sunday.

Their Weapon: Reggie Bush

Bush is a mismatch player in every sense of the word, and he will line up all over the field in order to find the best way to attack the defense. He’s come a long way since his days with the Saints in terms of being a more complete back.

You will see him carry the ball in normal down-and-distance situations with a great deal of effectiveness, and he is not afraid to hammer the ball inside but is better when he can run it off the edge or on a sweep or reverse.

The Lions coaches are creating ways for him to get the ball, because he has more explosive quickness and burst than what the Cowboys faced last week against LeSean McCoy. Where Bush and McCoy are similar is how they are able to catch the ball in space, whether on the screen or the inside “Texas” route.

Bush is one of those players that can score from anywhere on the field at any time, so the Cowboys have to be alert when he is in the game. He’s going to be a handful for Sean Lee and Bruce Carter to have to deal with because of the way he is able to play in space. He’s a very natural football player that has the ability to breakdown a defense in a flash.

Under Their Radar: Drake Nevis

On the game film I was able to study on the Lions, I liked the matchup with DeMarcus Ware vs. Riley Reiff, but also keep an eye on Drake Nevis as a nickel rusher.

Nevis has finally worked himself into shape and has become a solid rotational player for this defensive line. Nevis is playing with far more technique than when I saw him with the Colts this summer. He really only had one move and that was the strong club move that would knock the blocker off balance, then he would rush up the field.

Now you see him doing a better job of using his hands and feet, working together. Where Nevis will have an advantage is working against guard Rob Sims. In watching Sims play, he is all about power and not quick movement. If Nevis is smart, he will not try and rush Sims down the middle but try and play him on the edges and see if he can attack his shoulder.

Nevis and the other Cowboys defensive tackles need to stay active against Sims and make him have to match their movement. The more that they can get him to have to move, the more he will struggle to sustain his blocks. I have seen inside pressure affect Stafford in a big way.

Under Our Radar: Ziggy Ansah

One of the most difficult players to get an idea of where he was going in the 2013 NFL Draft was BYU defensive end, Ziggy Ansah.

When the Lions selected Ansah with the fifth overall selection, there were those that were surprised of how high he went and others that thought the selection was the right one. Ansah is very raw but you can see the talent on tape. 

He is really playing on more natural ability than anything at this point. He is explosive and can quickly get the edge. He is doing a much better job of using pass rush moves as he is working to the quarterback. That has helped him post three sacks this season, and there were times where he was close to getting more. He is a long, rangy player that can play with some surprising power.

Ansah really wants to get up the field as fast as he can, then try and retrace his steps to handle the run. The Detroit Lions have some special packages where he lines up as a defensive tackle, while Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley play as defensive ends.

Ansah will line up across from Tyron Smith in this game, and Smith will need to be ready to handle his up field rush. If Smith is going to have success against Ansah, it will be by getting his hands on him quickly.

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NFL GAMEDAY RESOURCES: Dallas Cowboys and Miami Dolphins in the 2013 Hall of Fame Game

Miami Dolphins vs Dallas Cowboys - DAL ranked 16  VS  Miami Dolphins vs Dallas Cowboys - MIA ranked 14

The Dallas Cowboys are ailing, but they still should be a bigger divisional threat to the reigning champion Washington Redskins than the New York Giants. The defense is the key to that equation, not Tony Romo. While the lightning-rod quarterback did have his miscues with the division on the line in Week 17, how many times did he and the Cowboys’ sixth-ranked offense bail out Rob Ryan’s unit last year?

Still high on the Miami Dolphins, but 14 is as high as we go on potential. The Fins are certainly a threat to the Patriots in the East, but a bunch of free-agent signees frolicking around in gym shorts and a 2012 record of 7-9 is not enough to leapfrog the Colts or Bears in these rankings. Armon Binns is practicing well and making a play for the slot, potentially giving this team an inside complement to Mike Wallace and Brian Hartline.

GAMEDAY RESOURCES: Trackers and Scoreboards

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View game stats and scores online while you watch or listen to the game. Click HERE to choose from a list of popular online game trackers.

GAMEDAY RESOURCES: Sounds of the game

Listen to the “Voice of the Dallas Cowboys” Brad Sham on KRLD in Dallas.

The Dallas Cowboys Radio Network - 105_3 The Fan KRLD

Click HERE. Don’t live in the Dallas area? Click HERE.

GAMEDAY RESOURCES: Watch the game

To watch on TV, tune to your local NBC station.

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Click HERE to watch online (NFL Sunday Ticket)

GAMEDAY RESOURCES: Bookmark The Boys Are Back blog

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Check back here for box scores, videos, pictures, highlights, resources, recaps, interesting articles, and Dallas Cowboys information all season long. Signup for email alerts, RSS feeds, or add The Boys Are Back to your favorites.

Enjoy the game!

GAMEDAY RESOURCES: Dallas Cowboys vs. Miami Dolphins postgame coverage

LISTEN LIVE–RIGHT NOW

Dallas Cowboys Postgame Show

on the

Dallas Cowboys Radio Network

Note: The show starts approximately 30 minutes after the game is over.


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DALLAS COWBOYS CALENDAR: 2013 Dallas Cowboys Training Camp schedule

2013 Dallas Cowboys Training Camp in Oxnard, California - The Boys Are Back blog

It’s expected to be 69 degrees when the Cowboys reach Oxnard, Calif., Friday. The team has a new defensive scheme and offensive play caller. Before training camp breaks Aug. 16, the Cowboys will practice 38 times to help determine the fate of the 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys.

Let’s examine the Dallas Cowboys most pressing questions …

OFFENSIVE LINE: The Cowboys need dramatic improvement on the offensive line to break away from two consecutive 8-8 seasons. Left tackle Tyron Smith has a chance to be dominant. He is strong, persistent and determined to get better. He has Pro Bowl potential. Right tackle Doug Free’s 2012 performance led to sharing time with Jermey Parnell. Free took a pay cut to remain with the team. The interior of the line will receive the most attention. It’s possible that first-round pick Travis Frederick will anchor the center position. If Frederick lives up to his potential, a strong camp could land Phil Costa a starting job at guard in addition to backup center. The battle at the two guard spots will be most intense. Left guard Nate Livings is solid. Right guard Mackenzy Bernadeau finished strong after a slow start in 2012, but he’s missed the last two off-season programs with injuries. Ron Leary will also challenge for one of the starting jobs at guard.

DEFENSIVE SHIFT - Defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin and defensive line coach Rod Marinelli - The Boys Are Back blog 2013

DEFENSIVE SHIFT: Defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin and defensive line coach Rod Marinelli were hired to install a 4-3 scheme that should produce more turnovers. The scheme is relatively simple compared with what defensive coordinator Rob Ryan asked his players to execute the last two seasons. But to work, the team must avoid the injuries that devastated the defense in 2012. Cowboys officials have said consistently they expect the players to make the transition to a new scheme. When it comes to defensive tackle Jay Ratliff and linebackers Sean Lee and Bruce Carter, there is an expectation those players will shine even more. Linebackers DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer will now be undersized defensive ends. That’s fine if the Cowboys have a lot of size in the interior of the line, but they don’t. While it’s true Ware and Spencer will be closer to the quarterback and will get to rush more, it’s also true they will be in more traffic at the line of scrimmage. Cornerbacks Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne were solid last season in Ryan’s 3-4 scheme. This year they’ll have to adapt to the 4-3 coverage’s. The safety position is far from settled coming into camp this season. The team has five candidates vying for those starting jobs and rotations.

PLAYCALL MECHANICS: Jason Garrett has called the offensive plays for this franchise since 2007. He’s turned those duties over to offensive coordinator Bill Callahan. Whether he did this willingly or grudgingly is no longer relevant. What matters is how Garrett, Callahan and the rest of the offensive coaching staff execute this passing of the play sheet. Bill Callahan will likely be more persistent with the run game than Garrett. A commitment to run the ball more and an expected increase in packages that call for more two-tight end sets should help when the team is inside the shadow of the goalposts. The players will get a feel for what Callahan likes during this camp. The staff will also have five preseason games to work out the mechanics of how those plays will be delivered.

ON THE RISE -Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant takes a leap in 2012 - The Boys Are Back blog

ON THE RISE: Dez Bryant entered his first two training camps as a prodigy in search of maturity with a need to refine his technique and consistency. The perception of Bryant entering this training camp is different. He is the team’s top receiver. Anything short of 100 receptions and a Pro Bowl would be considered a letdown. If Bryant’s dramatic improvement continues, he will be one of the league’s elite WRs in 2013.

THE ROMO FACTOR: Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is convinced Tony Romo is the quarterback to lead his franchise back to the Super Bowl. A six-year, $108 million extension makes that clear. The highest-paid player in Cowboys history must now deliver. Romo has been given more input than ever before. He helped with the installation of the offense this off-season and will have a greater voice in the weekly game plan. “I don’t like being an average football team,” Romo said.

 

DALLAS COWBOYS TRAINING CAMP SCHEDULE

July 20 Training camp – Oxnard, CA – Click HERE for schedule
July 21-24 12:30 Walk-through; 2 pm Garrett news conference; 6 pm Practice
July 25 Players day off, no practice
July 26 12:30 Walk-through; 2 pm Garrett news conference; 6 pm Practice
July 27 12:30 Walk-through; 2 pm Garrett news conference; 7:15 pm Practice
July 28 12:30 Walk-through; 2 pm Garrett news conference; 4:30 pm Scrimmage
July 29-30 12:30 Walk-through; 2 pm Garrett news conference; 6 pm Practice
July 31 Players day off, no practice
Aug 1 12:30 Walk-through; 2 pm Garrett news conference; 6 pm Practice Military Appreciation Day
Aug 2 12:30 Walk-through; 2 pm Garrett news conference; 7:15 pm Practice
Aug 3 Walk-through, travel to Canton, Ohio
Aug. 4 Hall of Fame Game – Cowboys vs. Dolphins (7 p.m.) – Canton, OH
Aug 5 Players day off, no practice
Aug 6 12:30 Walk-through; 2 pm Garrett news conference; 6 pm Practice Military Appreciation Day
Aug 7 12:30 Walk-through; 2 pm Garrett news conference; 6 pm Practice
Aug 8 12:30 p.m.: Walk-through, team travel to Oakland
Aug. 9 Preseason Game 2 – Dallas Cowboys at Oakland (9 pm)
Aug 10 Players day off, no practice
Aug 11 7:15 pm Practice
Aug 12 12:30 Walk-through; 2 pm Garrett news conference; 6 pm Practice First Responders Appreciation Day
Aug 13 12:30 Walk-through; 2 pm Garrett news conference; 6 pm Practice Military Appreciation Day
Aug 14 12:30 Walk-through; 2 pm Garrett news conference; 6 pm Practice (closed to public)
Aug 15 12:30 Walk-through; 2 pm Garrett news conference; 7:15 pm Practice
Aug 16 Walk-through, break training camp, travel to Phoenix

(Note: Walk-through practices and news conferences are not open to the public)

Stay up-to-date with the Dallas Cowboys calendar and schedule right HERE on The Boys Are Back blog

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TIME ON HIS SIDE: Tony Romo will get extra time with Dallas Cowboys rookies in June, July

TIME ON HIS SIDE - Tony Romo will get extra time with Dallas Cowboys rookies in June, July - The Boys Are Back blog 2013

The second week of organized team activities started for the Dallas Cowboys today (on Tuesday). As expected, Tony Romo remained out of the mix.

Romo is unable to practice after having a cyst removed from his back in April. The quarterback hasn’t started working with the Cowboys’ 2013 NFL Draft picks: center Travis Frederick, tight end Gavin Escobar and wide receiver Terrance Williams.

Romo was asked what he misses by being forced to sit out early practices.

“I think sometimes timing,” Romo said Tuesday. “But at the same time, I’m going to wear that out with them, too. I’m sure they’ll want to get out of here a little bit in June and July, but I’ll probably force the hand a little bit to keep them around and it’ll be a good thing for us. It’ll be just a bonus, time wise.”

Meanwhile, the quarterback said he watched film on Escobar and Williams prior to the 2013 NFL Draft, per the request of general manager Jerry Jones.

Romo would like to take part in the Cowboys’ June 11 to 13 minicamp. He can fret about timing, but time remains on his side.

MARK YOUR CALENDAR: 2014 NFL Draft moved to May 8-10 at Radio City Music Hall

2014 NFL Draft Weekend - Radio City Music Hall - The Boys Are Back blog

The NFL draft is moving two weeks later than usual, at least for 2014.

The league announced today (Tuesday) that the 2014 NFL Draft will be held May 8 to 10 at Radio City Music Hall. The league also was considering moving the draft to May 15 to 17 because of scheduling issues at Radio City Music Hall, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell confirmed last week at the NFL Spring Meeting.

2014 NFL Draft - The Boys Are Back blog

“The decision was made after discussions with club personnel and key NFL business partners. No decision has been made regarding the dates of the NFL Draft in 2015 and beyond. A variety of alternatives are being explored, teams were told, including holding the draft at Radio City or at other locations, either in the New York area or in other cities,” the league said in a statement Tuesday.

There have been discussions about dramatically changing the offseason calendar including the dates of the NFL Scouting Combine and the start of free agency, but those possible changes won’t happen until 2015 at the earliest. The NFL announced the 2014 dates of those events, which are at the same time as previous years.

The National Combine in Indianapolis will be held from February 18 to 25. The new league year and free agency will begin March 11, 2014. The NFL Annual Meeting will be held in Orlando, Fla., on March 23 to 26.

The NFL’s original preference was for the combine to happen in March, with the league year beginning in April and the NFL draft in May. However, no (required) agreement was reached with the NFL Players Association on changing the start of the league year.

The NFL’s release pointed out that the change in the date of the draft won’t have any effect on when rookies will be able to report to their clubs or the length of the offseason program in 2014. They also don’t plan to reduce the number of practice days for 2015.

This looks like a “trial” year for the draft in May. If it goes well, we can expect the already-long “draft season” to add a few more mock drafts.

NFL OWNERS SPRING MEETING: Pro Bowl, Super Bowl on agenda

NFL’s owners meeting kicked off as the owners, general managers, and coaches for each team gathered in Arizona 2012 - The Boys Are Back blog

Next week’s NFL Spring Meeting in Boston (May 20-22, 2013) will include talks on potentially marked changes for the embattled Pro Bowl.

The NFL will continue to advance the idea of a “draft” to select the AFC and NFC squads. Team owners also plan to toy with adding a twist to the annual all-star game by having the top vote-getters in each conference serve as team captains.

As reported in March, the draft concept — previously used by the NHL for its all-star game — is “not a done deal.” The NFL Annual Meeting in March already featured starter discussions about allowing captains to draft their squads, pick team uniforms and come up with names and rules.

These talks are a start, but the Pro Bowl’s core problems have been low player attendance and effort. The game’s biggest names all too regularly have declined to play — often citing mysterious injuries — and those who did show up failed to give us anything worth watching.

Until the game offers any tangible stakes, a more pressing topic is if the Pro Bowl makes any sense at all.

Votes for Super Bowls L (SB 50) and LI (SB 51) will take place at next week’s meeting, along with sessions on finance and stadium issues, the fan experience, stadium security, officiating, youth football and the NFL’s international initiative.

PHOTO: 2012 NFL’s owners meeting kicked off as the owners, general managers, and coaches for each team gathered in Arizona – Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett located on right side. Click on photo for larger view.


BLOG TIP: Keep up with the Dallas Cowboys 2013-2014 NFL Schedule and 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys NFL Calendar by clicking on the button below:

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HOLD YOUR HORSES: The 2013-2014 NFL schedule has not been finalized

The NFL usually releases the official regular-season schedule in the week prior to the NFL draft, but that will not be the case this year.

“The schedule is not finalized, and no release date has been determined,” NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said in a statement today (Monday).

The NFL told Sports Business Journal on Monday the schedule will come out in the next week or two. While the schedule in recent years has come out in the week before the draft, that isn’t always the case. The 2010 schedule was unveiled only two days before the draft. That was the first year the NFL moved to a Thursday night primetime start for the draft.

If you’re looking for a best guess as to the schedule’s release, April 23 would be it. But that’s just a guess. The schedule also might come out after the draft in another effort to “stretch out” the NFL calendar and keep football high in the headline stacks.

The announcement of this year’s schedule technically hasn’t been postponed because it never officially was set in the first place. This much we know: The Baltimore Ravens will open the season on the road in the NFL’s kickoff game.

EDITORS NOTE: The league released the 2013-2014 NFL Schedule today (April 18, 2013) … check it out HERE.

NFL GAMEDAY RESOURCES: Dallas Cowboys vs. Washington Redskins

Dallas Cowboys vs. Washington Redskins - NFC East Rivals - The Boys Are Back blog

HEAD2HEAD: A look at the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins match up

Almost a year to the day the Cowboys’ 2011 season ended with a loss to the New York Giants in a winner-take-all game for the NFC East title, Dallas will have a chance to claim the division championship Sunday in a showdown with one of its other rivals, the Washington Redskins. Led by quarterback Robert Griffin III and a rushing offense that is the most prolific in pro football, Washington has won six consecutive games. One of those victories came against Dallas in November. The Cowboys will try to exact revenge and earn their first playoff berth since the 2009 season. Here is a look at how both teams match up:

When the Cowboys run

Last Sunday, DeMarco Murray authored his worst performance since he returned from a six-game absence because of a sprained left foot. He rushed for 40 yards on 11 carries and lost a fumble that led to a touchdown. But Murray could be a difference-maker Sunday. He didn’t play in Dallas’ first game against Washington when the Cowboys gained only 35 yards on the ground. If he returns to form, he could help Dallas crack the Redskins’ run defense that is the fifth-stingiest in the NFL.

Edge: Redskins

When the Cowboys pass

The connection between quarterback Tony Romo and Dez Bryant is stronger than ever and it’s the reason why the Cowboys have a chance to win the division Sunday. Romo has thrown 17 touchdown passes in his last eight games. Bryant has been the recipient of 10 of them. The Redskins’ tattered secondary will struggle to contend with the Cowboys’ dynamic duo. Washington is surrendering 287.7 yards per game through the air, the third-highest average in the NFL.

Edge: Cowboys

When the Redskins run

Washington has the most productive ground attack in the NFL, averaging 162.3 yards per game. But it doesn’t look nearly as potent as it did a few weeks ago. Quarterback Robert Griffin’s sprained knee suffered in Week 14 has weakened the rushing offense. He gained only four yards on two carries last week against Philadelphia as rookie Alfred Morris, who has amassed 1,413 yards this season, carried the load. If Griffin’s mobility is reduced, the Cowboys’ suspect run defense that has allowed 124.5 yards per game in its last eight contests may stand a chance.

Edge: Redskins

When the Redskins pass

Rookies are usually prone to making mistakes. But Robert Griffin III is the exception. He’s thrown 20 touchdown passes and only five interceptions. His quarterback rating of 104.1 is the second-highest in the league. Griffin burned the Cowboys’ secondary in a 38-31 victory over Dallas on Thanksgiving, as he passed for 304 yards and four touchdowns. Since then, Dallas’ defense, which is allowing 239.8 yards per game through the air, has been bombarded by other quarterbacks – from Nick Foles to Drew Brees. And now Griffin may be ready for an encore.

Edge: Redskins

Special teams

Last season, the Cowboys had two of the most promising young kickers in the NFL. Now they have one and the Redskins have the other. Dallas kept Dan Bailey, who has made 28 of 30 field-goal attempts this season and has already converted seven game-winning tries in 31 NFL games. But it unloaded Kai Forbath, who was signed by Washington in October and set an NFL record by making the first 17 field goals he has attempted in his career. Forbath has the slight edge over Bailey because he is used to kicking outdoors and on the grass at FedEx Field.

Edge: Redskins

Intangibles

The Redskins are one of the hottest teams in the NFL right now. They’ve won six consecutive games, including the Thanksgiving Day matchup with the Cowboys. Dallas has also fared well of late, but its defeat to New Orleans last Sunday squelched some of the momentum it had established since that loss to Washington. The Cowboys will have to regroup in order to beat the Redskins at FedEx Field, where Washington is 4-3 this season. A partisan home crowd should help the Redskins in this duel for the division title.

Edge: Redskins

GAMEDAY RESOURCES: Trackers and Scoreboards

GAMETRAX - Dallas Cowboys vs. Washington Redskins - The Boys Are Back blog

View game stats and scores online while you watch or listen to the game. Click HERE to choose from a list of popular online game trackers.

GAMEDAY RESOURCES: Sounds of the game

Listen to the “Voice of the Dallas Cowboys” Brad Sham on KRLD in Dallas.

The Dallas Cowboys Radio Network - 105_3 The Fan KRLD

Click HERE. Don’t live in the Dallas area? Click HERE.

GAMEDAY RESOURCES: Watch the game

To watch on TV, tune to your local FOX station.

NFL on FOX - The Boys Are Back blog

Click HERE to watch online (NFL Sunday Ticket)

GAMEDAY RESOURCES: Bookmark The Boys Are Back blog

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Check back here for box scores, videos, pictures, highlights, resources, recaps, interesting articles, and Dallas Cowboys information all season long. Signup for email alerts, RSS feeds, or add The Boys Are Back to your favorites.

Enjoy the game!

GAMEDAY RESOURCES: Dallas Cowboys vs. Washington Redskins postgame coverage

LISTEN LIVE–RIGHT NOW

Dallas Cowboys Postgame Show

on the

Dallas Cowboys Radio Network

Note: The show starts approximately 30 minutes after the game is over.

Editors Note: If you enjoy this Special Feature, please use the LIKE and SHARE buttons below. Help us spread the word about The Boys Are Back blog! Enjoy.

DALLAS PLOWBOYS: Weather could force Dallas, Redskins to remain grounded

QBs Robert Griffin III (left) and Tony Romo may not be the featured matchup in Sunday’s Redskins-Cowboys game - The Boys Are Back blog

The spotlight will be squarely on the quarterbacks when the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins square off Sunday night with the NFC East title on the line.

But with forecasts calling for temperatures at FedEx Field to dip into the 20s, the focus could shift quickly from the Cowboys’ Tony Romo and the Redskins’ Robert Griffin III to running backs DeMarco Murray and Alfred Morris.

Griffin was the catalyst for Washington’s 38-31 victory over Dallas on Thanksgiving, completing 71.4 percent of his passes for 311 yards and four touchdowns in one of the rookie of the year candidate’s top performances. But Morris, another rookie, did plenty of heavy lifting with a rugged 24-carry, 113-yard, one-TD showing.

“RG3, everybody’s enamored,” Cowboys defensive end Marcus Spears told reporters in Irving. “But it’s not like he’s back there alone. He can hand the ball off to a guy that can make plays.”

Indeed, Morris is fourth in the league with 1,413 yards on 302 attempts, a major reason Washington leads the league in rush offense at 162.3 yards per game. His big game against Dallas was the first of three 100-yard games in a row during a six-game winning streak that propelled the Redskins (9-6) from cellar dwellers to division leaders.

Another big game could be in store for Morris, considering he’s going up against an injury-depleted defense that ranks 17th against the run (115.3 yards per game) and will be without five of its best run stuffers.

“RG3 is the phenom that everybody loves, but this running back has been killing people and may be the most dangerous guy on the field,” Spears said in an eyebrow-raising comment given Griffin’s otherworldly skills.

“That’s not to take anything away from RG3. But when you look at the film, (Morris) is averaging almost 120 yards rushing per game. Usually when teams do that, they win. So we got a lot on our hands.”

A sixth-round pick from Florida Atlantic, Morris is the latest late-round or undrafted gem at running back to be unearthed by Redskins coach Mike Shanahan.

“Not too many rookies can handle the load he has,” Shanahan said of Morris, who has rushed for 10 TDs in the coach’s famed zone-blocking scheme.

“But he’s a special guy, a very humble, hard worker.”

The Cowboys (8-7) were without Murray in the first meeting with the Redskins and gained only 35 yards on 11 attempts. In his four games since returning from a foot injury that sidelined him for six contests, the second-year pro from Oklahoma has rushed for 80-plus yards twice and has run for a TD in three of those outings.

“The game kind of dictated them not being able to run the football as much on Thanksgiving,” said Washington linebacker London Fletcher, noting the Redskins led 28-3 at halftime after Griffin and Morris combined for four scores in the second quarter.

“With Murray, he’s a big back, breaks tackles, runs hard. Obviously, having him in the fold makes their run game better.”

Still, Murray managed only 40 yards on 11 carries and failed to score a TD in last week’s 34-31 overtime loss to New Orleans, a contest in which the Saints controlled possession for almost 65 percent of the game.

The Cowboys are 31st in rush offense, averaging 77.7 yards per game.

Washington is fifth in rush defense, yielding 95.5 yards per outing.

“They are a very good run defense and have been for a number of years,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said while heaping praise on Redskins defensive coordinator Jim Haslett.

LOOKING AHEAD TO GAMEDAY: Scouting the Washington Redskins

The Washington Redskins chose to take it easy on Robert Griffin’s injured knee last week, scratching most of the running out of the playbook for the rookie quarterback.

With a sore knee, Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III only ran twice in last week's win over the Eagles - The Boys Are Back blog

And now they know he can win that way, too.

Griffin ran only two times for 4 yards but still put up a 102.4 passer rating, completing 16 of 24 passes for 198 yards, two touchdowns and an interception (that went off the receiver’s hands) in a win last week against the Philadelphia Eagles.

It gives the team confidence that Griffin, even if he is slowed down a bit, still can be a weapon against the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday.

"We did not do everything that we would normally do," Redskins coach Mike Shanahan told Washington reporters. "I didn’t want to put that pressure on that LCL."

The ligament strain caused Griffin to miss a game two weeks ago against the Cleveland Browns. He came back last week with a bulky knee brace that hampered him.

"My mobility was down a little bit just because of the brace, but at the same time, I was still able to do everything a quarterback is supposed to do," Griffin said. "It didn’t necessarily slow me down by any means, and I was able to protect myself out there."

Rivalry talk

Tight end Chris Cooley has played the Cowboys 13 times, so he appreciates the rivalry.

"This game is going to be unbelievable," he said. "This is what should be one of the best rivalries in all of football, one of the top two or three games in all of football … but it hasn’t been Redskins-Cowboys where we both have great teams."

Winning feeling

The Redskins’ six-game winning streak included a stretch of three games decided by one score, and four in all. But that’s good, Mike Shanahan said.

"You’ve got to get used to winning those tight games," he said. "I think that’s where our football team is right now. They expect to win."

The Redskins escaped Cowboys Stadium with a one-score margin, winning 38-31. They also beat the New York Giants 17-16, the Baltimore Ravens 31-28 and the Eagles 27-20.

Injuries

Right tackle Tyler Polumbus did not play last week because of a concussion. The Redskins are optimistic he can play on Sunday.

Safety DeJon Gomes sprained a knee against Philadelphia. The Redskins were waiting to see how the knee responded today.

Center Will Montgomery played with a sprained knee against the Eagles, and defensive end Stephen Bowen suffered a torn biceps, but both are expected to play Sunday.

Briefly

Ryan Kerrigan had two sacks and a forced fumble last week, giving him the team lead in sacks with 8.5.

Kai Forbath, who spent time on injured reserve with the Cowboys last year, has made 17 field goals to start his career, an NFL record.

Rookie Alfred Morris (1,413 yards) needs 105 yards to break Clinton Portis’ single-season club rushing record.

The Redskins haven’t won the NFC East since 1999.

NFC EAST REVIEW: Division race comes down to week 17

Dallas Cowboys vs Washington Redskins - NFC East rivals play for division title - The Boys Are Back blog

With just one week left in the regular season the NFC East comes down to one game between the Redskins and Cowboys.

Washington Redskins 9-6

Dallas Cowboys 8-7

New York Giants 8-7

Philadelphia Eagles 4-11

Redskins:

It didn’t seem possible six weeks ago, but the Washington Redskins are currently the sole leaders atop the NFC East after winning their sixth straight game. Last Sunday they welcomed back Robert Griffin III from a leg injury and the rookie quarterback didn’t look like he had missed a beat.

Griffin was able to post a 102.4 passer rating while throwing two touchdowns in a 27-20 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles. The Redskins continued to do what they do best: run the ball well on offense. They rushed for 128 total yards and made the big plays when it mattered. At this point in the season the Redskins are very comfortable running their college-like offensive scheme and few teams have had any success stopping them.

The Redskins will be champions of the NFC East if they defeat the Cowboys at home on Sunday night. If they lose they could still potentially make the playoffs as a wildcard assuming that both Chicago and Minnesota lose their final game.

Cowboys

Perhaps the most exciting game the Cowboys have played all season turned out to be completely irrelevant. After the Giants were defeated by the Baltimore Ravens the Cowboys’ 34-31 loss to the Saints earlier in the day became meaningless.

But that doesn’t take away any of the thrill (or concerns) that came with the game. The Cowboys came back from down 14 points with less than five minutes to play in the fourth quarter. After getting the first touchdown, the Cowboys still needed a 4th and 10 conversion with 15 seconds left in the game. They not only converted the 4th down, they scored a 21-yard touchdown pass to Miles Austin to force overtime.

In the end, a controversial fumble by Marques Colston that bounced 22 yards forward until being recovered by Jimmy Graham set up a field goal to win the game for the Saints.

Tony Romo was nearly flawless in the game throwing for over 400 yards and four touchdowns, while posting a passer rating of 123.8. He was helped out by the career performance of Dez Bryant who recorded 224 yards receiving and two touchdowns.

Despite the loss, the Cowboys can win the division with a win over Washington on Sunday. That is their only chance at making the playoffs.

Giants:

It was hard not to assume that the Giants would just “turn it on” when they really truly needed a win. Well, the past two weeks New York has needed wins and they have been blown out each week. After being shutout by the Falcons the previous week, the Giants lost 33-14 to the Ravens.

At a time when they needed their best players playing their best, the Giants received poor performances from Eli Manning (only 150 yards passing), Ahmad Bradshaw (only 39 yards rushing) and their much heralded defensive line was unable to record a single sack on the immobile Joe Flacco.

The Giants’ weakness all season has been their secondary and they once again struggled as Flacco was able to throw for over 300 yards and two touchdowns on the Giants’ defense.

They’ve been inconsistent all season and now the Super Bowl champions find themselves in a position where they will need a miracle to make the post season.

Eagles:

The Eagles have been able to get a good look at some of their younger players the past few weeks. Unfortunately for them, at 4-11, that’s about the only positive to come from this season.

In a 27-20 loss to the Redskins, rookie quarterback Nick Foles threw for 345 yards but suffered a broken right hand that will likely force him to miss the season finale. That will put Michael Vick back into the lineup, likely for the last time with the Eagles.

McCoy returned to the lineup, which meant less carries for rookie Bryce Brown and together they were only able to combine for 63 yards.

The Eagles are obviously looking towards the future as they finish the season Sunday against the Giants.

Injuries:

Dallas Cowboys: DeMarcus Ware has been dealing with elbow and shoulder injuries all season and he was forced to miss significant portions of the Cowboys’ loss to the Saints. Jason Garrett claimed that he believes that Ware will be ready to suit up and play the season finale despite his injuries. The Cowboys also lost Ernie Sims in the first quarter against the Saints after experiencing concussion-like symptoms. There is no word on his availability for Sunday and will likely be a game-time decision.

New York Giants: The Giants’ defensive line was out of sorts on Sunday after Chris Canty reinjured his knee against the Ravens. There is no word on his status for next Sunday. Justin Tuck was already inactive in the game due to a shoulder injury.

Philadelphia Eagles: McCoy returned to the field after missing a few weeks with a concussion, but was largely ineffective rushing the ball. With Nick Foles (hand) out, Michael Vick is expected to start.

Washington Redskins: There was some concern leading into Sunday’s game over whether or not Robert Griffin III was fully healed and prepared to comeback after only missing a week from his leg injury. Griffin not only returned, but looked as sharp as ever. However, he refrained from running the ball like he normally does.

Playoff Scenarios:

-Dallas (@Washington) clinches NFC East title with a win over Washington.

-Washington (vs. Dallas) clinches NFC East division title with a win or tie against Dallas.

-Washington clinches a playoff spot with a Chicago loss and a Minnesota loss.

-New York Giants (vs. Philadelphia) clinches a playoff spot with a win and a Dallas loss or tie and a Chicago loss and a Minnesota loss.

Week 17 Schedule:

Philadelphia Eagles @ New York Giants

Sunday, December 30th, 12:00 CT (FOX)

Dallas Cowboys @ Washington Redskins

Sunday, December 30th, 7:20 CT (NBC)

GO BIG OR GO HOME: It’s NFC East champions or bust for the 2012-2013 Dallas Cowboys

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IRVING — The first day of the Dallas Cowboys’ organized team activities, Jason Garrett stood before his team and had them envision something that hasn’t happened here in 17 years.

“I said, ‘Picture yourself holding the Super Bowl trophy over your head,’ ” Garrett said Monday. “That’s the first thing out of my mouth [every year]. ‘So put that in the forefront of your mind. Really feel that. Feel that experience, where we all want to go?’ Then, you say, ‘OK, take that and put it in the back of your mind. Now what you need to do is focus on today. Focus on this Wednesday practice.’

“That’s the mindset. They hear that from me a lot: This is where we want to go. This is where everybody wants to go. This is why we’re doing all this stuff. Now, we have to get back right here. Let’s get back to focusing on what we need to do today to advance ourselves to that goal. It’s a pretty simple philosophy.”

It’s a pretty simple scenario for the Cowboys if they are to have a chance to do what they envisioned in May: They have to beat the Washington Redskins on Sunday night to extend their season.

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WILD CARD WEEKEND: Cowboys would host either 49ers or Seahawks in playoff game

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They have to get there first. But while Jason Garrett and his players aren’t looking past the Washington Redskins next Sunday in a winner-take-all NFC East showdown, the Cowboys’ advance scouts are looking ahead.

They can focus their attention on the 49ers (10-4-1) and the Seahawks (10-5). The Cowboys would be 9-7 with a win over the Redskins and the fourth seed. They would play the fifth seed. The 49ers or the Seahawks will be the fifth seed. The 49ers will win the NFC West with a victory over the Cardinals or a Seahawks loss to the Rams. The Seahawks would win the West with a victory and a 49ers loss. So either the 49ers or the Seahawks will be the NFC West champion and the other one will be the fifth seed.

Dallas, as NFC East champions, would host the wild-card game at Cowboys Stadium on the weekend of Jan. 5-6. The educated guess is the Cowboys game would be Sunday, Jan. 6 in the 3 p.m. time slot, considering lots of things, including the fact that the Cotton Bowl is Jan. 4. There also is the fact that NBC got this week’s game between the Cowboys and Redskins, so Fox likely will get the NFC East champion’s playoff game. NBC televises the two playoff games on Jan. 5. Fox has an NFC game on Jan. 6, and CBS has an AFC game on Jan. 6. It’s just an educated guess on when the game would be played, but a pretty good assumption, assuming the Cowboys beat the Redskins.

Either way, the Cowboys’ advance scouts will be getting ready in hopes there is a game next weekend.

"The advance guys do a great job of that stuff, and they’ll have that whole thing covered for us," Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. "They have all the different scenarios and who’s traveling to what game. One of the things that I’ve found out being in these kinds of situations is be careful about making too many educated guesses. Make sure you have all your bases covered. Oh, this team will definitely beat them, so we’re definitely going to play them. A lot of times that doesn’t happen. Our guys do a great job of that, and they’ll have all that background work done for us, so hopefully we win this ball game and go get prepared to play the first round of the playoffs. They’ll have all that stuff covered for us to start our preparation."

RIVAL HEADLINE: Here comes the mystery team – Dallas Cowboys still a puzzle as finale vs. Redskins approaches

Dallas Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray (29) gets in on the huddle vs Saints - The Boys Are Back blog

ARLINGTON, Tex. – They were playing this week to decide the meaning of next week, and it’s now clear that it will be winner take all when the Washington Redskins and Dallas Cowboys meet for the NFC East title. The next question for the Redskins is, which outfit should they scout with the playoffs on the line: the Cowboys who can’t solve the riddle of their dazzling but often fatally confused personality, or the terrifying Cowboys who know exactly who they are?

Do you expect the perplexing, dumbfounding Cowboys who suffered yet another upset loss to the New Orleans Saints on Sunday in overtime, 34-31? Or the touchdown-a-minute monsters who almost won a game that seemed unwinnable? Do you plan for the team that can look like a still life? Or the one that can leave you thunderstruck with feats like two touchdowns in the final 3 minutes 35 seconds against the Saints?

Do you expect the strangely complacent team that allowed the Saints to possess the ball for a staggering 41:59 out of more than 64 minutes? Or do you brace for the biting, snap-jawed team that is never, ever out of a game with Tony Romo, who threw for 416 yards and four touchdowns and can make so much happen in such a short period of time? Their late fourth-quarter drives took just 1:10 and 1:14, respectively, the second one ending with Romo’s 19-yard zing to Miles Austin on fourth and 10 with just 15 seconds remaining to force overtime.

Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant (88) runs in a touchdown as teammate John Phillips (89) looks on - The Boys Are Back blog

“We had a lot of good plays,” Romo said. “But we didn’t get off the field on third down, and didn’t stay on the field enough on third down, and that’s not a good recipe. . . .We didn’t make a play or two that can determine it.”

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NFC EAST CHAMPIONSHIP FLEXED TO SNF: Dallas Cowboys and Redskins to end NFL 2012-2013 regular season in dramatic fashion

The Rivalry - Washington Redskins vs Dallas Cowboys Rivalry - The Boys Are Back blog

ARLINGTON, Texas — It had to come down to a final game. Had to. Just like it’s come down to the final drive over and over again. The white-knuckled way the Dallas Cowboys‘ season had gone, it would never end with coach Jason Garrett and his players watching the final day play out with their feet up, coasting into the playoffs. It wouldn’t fit. It had to be like this.

Dallas Cowboys vs. Washington Redskins on Sunday night. Prime time. A playoff spot and NFC East crown for the winner. Just like last year, when it was Giants-Cowboys. Like it should be.

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NFL GAMEDAY RESOURCES: Dallas Cowboys vs. New Orleans Saints

New Orleans Saints vs Dallas Cowboys at Cowboys Stadium - The Boys Are Back blog

HEAD2HEAD: A look at the Dallas Cowboys and New Orleans Saints match up

The Cowboys are making December one to remember for all the right reasons. They’ve won three games this month and five of their last six. Now, they face New Orleans, a 6-8 team that is on the verge of missing the playoffs for the first time since the 2008 season. The Saints have been damaged by the penalties stemming from the bounty scandal that rocked the NFL in the off-season. But they still have one of the most prolific offenses in the league, producing more points on average than every other team except New England. Here is a look at how both the Cowboys and Saints match up:

When the Cowboys run

DeMarco Murray has rushed for more than 100 yards in a game once this season. But his impact is far greater than his output. His presence is vital to the Cowboys’ success. Since entering the league in 2011, Dallas is 10-1 when Murray has 14 or more carries. Murray should get plenty of opportunities Sunday against a New Orleans team allowing 146.3 rushing yards per game – the second-highest average in the NFL this season.

Edge: Cowboys

When the Cowboys pass

In the last seven games, Tony Romo has revived a season that seemed headed for disaster. Since Nov. 1, he has thrown 13 touchdowns passes and only three interceptions. He has also passed for 300 or more yards five times. Romo’s strong performance has coincided with the most productive stretch of Dez Bryant’s career. Bryant has collected eight touchdown receptions in the last six games and has a good chance to find the end zone again against a Saints team giving up 287 yards per game through the air – the second-highest average in the NFL this season.

Edge: Cowboys

When the Saints run

New Orleans’ commitment to its ground game can be questioned. This season, the Saints have rushed the ball 314 times – the second-lowest total in the NFL this season. But when New Orleans has turned to its running backs, they have been successful, averaging 4.45 yards per carry. Mark Ingram, Pierre Thomas, Darren Sproles and Chris Ivory form a strong backfield that will test a Cowboys defense featuring a patchwork front. But Dallas held strong against Pittsburgh last week, limiting the Steelers to 69 yards on the ground.

Edge: Cowboys

When the Saints pass

Drew Brees has become one of the best quarterbacks in NFL history directing a high-powered offense. Even in this season of disappointment, Brees has excelled. He leads the league in passing yards, throwing for 4,335 in 14 games. But his record has been blighted by 18 interceptions – the highest total in the league. Brees commands an air attack that Dallas’ secondary will be challenged to stop. Four Saints players are among the 50 NFL players with the most receptions. The Cowboys, meanwhile, have allowed opposing quarterbacks to throw for more than 250 yards in three of their last four games.

Edge: Saints

Special teams

In less than two seasons, Dan Bailey has emerged as one of the NFL’s most consistent kickers and a key contributor for the Cowboys. In an overtime victory over Pittsburgh last Sunday, Bailey made his seventh game-winning field goal, tying a franchise record. This season, he has connected on 27 of 29 attempts and every kick inside of 50 yards. Bailey has been considerably more successful than Southlake’s own Garrett Hartley. Hartley has made only 15 of 18 field-goal tries and his conversion rate is ranked in the bottom half of the league.

Edge: Cowboys

Intangibles

The New Orleans Saints haven’t been eliminated from playoff contention. But with eight losses their chances of qualifying for the postseason are extremely slim. The Cowboys, on the other hand, have a very realistic shot of playing beyond the regular season. Their confidence is high after their recent stretch of success and they will be motivated to earn their sixth victory in their last seven games. A rejuvenated home crowd should help them.

Edge: Cowboys

GAMEDAY RESOURCES: Trackers and Scoreboards

GAMETRAX - Dallas Cowboys vs. New Orleans Saints

View game stats and scores online while you watch or listen to the game. Click HERE to choose from a list of popular online game trackers.

GAMEDAY RESOURCES: Sounds of the game

The Dallas Cowboys Radio Network - 105_3 The Fan KRLD

Listen to the “Voice of the Dallas Cowboys” Brad Sham on KRLD in Dallas. Click HERE. Don’t live in the Dallas area? Click HERE.

GAMEDAY RESOURCES: Watch the game on TV or online

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GAMEDAY RESOURCES: Dallas Cowboys vs. New Orleans Saints postgame coverage

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THE BAYOU VS. THE BOYS: All hands saddle-up for the game 15 shootout

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IRVING, TexasAll hands saddle up. A Texas sized shootout is about to commence.

         Think about it. That is exactly how these Dallas Cowboys have turned a 3-5 start to this 2012 season into an encouraging 8-6 with two games to go and a potential playoff berth emerging out of the blue.

         And it’s the exact same old Texas cattle drive toughness needed this Sunday at Cowboys Stadium. It’s this suddenly surging Cowboys team, winner of three straight games this late in a season (for only the second time since they swept the final five in the 1993 Super Bowl campaign), meets head on with those 6-8 New Orleans Saints.

Courtesy - Saddle Up Cowboy Art Print by Jim Tunell - The Boys Are Back blog

         Everyone, that is. All 92 hands comprising the 46-man, game-day roster, along with every one of those coaches and staff personnel, from head coach Jason Garrett to defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, all the way down to little-known but hardworking Ben Bloom and Dave Borgonzi.

Injured Cowboys tough it out - The Boys Are Back blog

         For this injury-riddled team, possibly growing up before our very, and for some, quite unsuspecting eyes, they have needed and will continue to need the village that has been the impetus for a second-half surge, winning five of the past six games to vault into a three-way tie for first place in the NFC East with Washington and New York.

         That is why so many of you are having significant problems trying to figure out what happened between 3-5 and 8-6. Why a team that lost three of those first eight games by an eyelash suddenly has won four of these five by the equal breath of that same eyelash.

         Oh, it’s been the red-hot play of Tony Romo, you say, the Cowboys quarterback completing 168-of-250 passing attempts in the past six games for 1,875 yards, 12 touchdowns and just three interceptions, factoring out to a 100.3 passer rating.

         Or it’s been Dez Bryant, putting together a Pro Bowl-push of consistency in the same six games, grabbing 37 passes for 584 yards and eight of his 10 touchdowns, as many scores in 14 games as any No. 88 in Cowboys history has ever caught in a 16-game season, not even giving quarter to a fractured left index finger.

         Or it’s been the return of DeMarco Murray, the lead runner who has come back to gain 213 yards and score three rushing touchdowns on 213 carries since missing six and a half straight games with torn foot ligaments.

         Or the steady hand of Jason Witten, leading the team with 97 catches, just six shy of becoming the NFL’s all-time leader in single-season receptions by a tight end.

         Or the emergence of play-making receiver/returner Dwayne Harris, seven catches for 79 yards these past two games, along with a 78-yard punt return for a touchdown and a 39-yarder this past Sunday.

         Or this rookie tight end James Hanna, three catches for 48 yards these past two games and a mismatch for any linebacker trying to run cross-field with him while their defensive partners are preoccupied doubling Witten.

         Or cornerback Brandon Carr, two picks in the past two games, the second this past Sunday setting up Dan Bailey’s game-winning 21-yard field goal in overtime. And oh, Bailey is a candidate too, since that kick means he has made 12-of-12 field goals in this six-game stretch.

         Or Anthony Spencer, whose seven sacks in the last six has spurred on a defense that seemingly loses a starter a week (seven total from the nickel defense this past Sunday) and has compensated for fellow outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware essentially playing with his right arm (injured elbow and shoulder) tied behind his back.

         Or defensive coordinator Rob Ryan using spit and duct tape to piece together a defense littered with guys signed off their couches to replace the five defensive starters now on injured reserve if you count nickel back Orlando Scandrick in that total, and then also nose tackle Jay Ratliff (out for the remainder of the regular season at least) and his backup Josh Brent on NFI following the tragic accident two weeks ago.

Saddle up for a cowboy adventure - The Boys Are Back blog

My gosh, this team even lost its punter. They lassoed another from the Buffalo Bills.

If they just lose one more … look, they haven’t exactly slammed the door shut on the past four opponents, but with the exception of the 38-31 loss to Washington, they have come up with key stops or plays to close out the final three games, the last in overtime.

And even some insist the tragic accident killing practice squad linebacker Jerry Brown and charging Brent, the driver, with intoxication manslaughter, coupled with Brown’s mother, Stacey Jackson, expression of uncommon compassion for Brent, has galvanized this team, as if suddenly playing for a bigger cause.

Who am I to say that is a corny take, since there has been a noticeable focus and determination in these guys’ eyes ever since, along with a noticeable budding confidence that no matter what – a broken finger, lost comrade, 10-point fourth-quarter deficit, the inability to score more than 10 points in any first half this season, and injured teammates. As many as 16 guys signed to this roster since the start of the season and having to play the unknown likes of Sterling Moore, Michael Coe, Brady Poppinga, Ernie Sims, Bryan Schaefering, Charlie Peprah and Eric Frampton – they shall overcome.

Cowboy Cattle Drives - The Boys Are Back blog

“Really, it’s just we’ve gotten to a point where we’re a mentally tough football team,” Romo said during a conference call with New Orleans reporters. “In saying that, I believe when I step on the field in the fourth quarter, if we’re within 10-14 points, we’re going to find a way to win the ballgame.”

So as you see, there have been beaucoup factors and Ranch hands elevating their play in this turnaround for the Cowboys, if indeed you want to call it a turnaround, since they lost the Baltimore game by a foot or two when Bailey experienced his last field-goal miss (from 51) at the buzzer and lost the second Giants game by a fingertip (Bryant’s landing out the back of the end zone, nullifying what was initially ruled a winning touchdown in the final seconds).

And while the quarterback’s influence on a game normally is overwhelming, as you can see there have been so, so many other factors in the Cowboys’ recent success. Sunday against the Saints won’t be any different, if you factor in that the Cowboys’ banged up defense has to go up against the league’s third-ranked offense, powered by the league’s second-ranked passing offense.

PR_TexasShootout Logo

You know what that means, right? Drew Brees, Marques Colston, Lance Moore, Jimmy Graham, Mark Ingram and especially Darren Sproles, the Saints’ nickel running back who is second on the team with seven touchdowns – six of those receptions – and is as dangerous a kick returner as Dallas has faced all season long.

That also means the Cowboys better score some points, which they have been doing, an offense aided by some defensive plays and touchdowns, along with a few plays on special teams. Just look, the Cowboys have scored at least 27 points in four of the past six games and more than 30 in half of those games.

Plus, anything they can get on special teams would be dandy, whether it be a Harris kick return or a Victor Butler forced fumble recovered in enemy territory, and for sure for Bailey to continue on his six-game streak of perfection.

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When you look at these Cowboys like this, you need not have been on the actual cattle drive to understand the meaning of all hands saddle up. Get ready for a shootout. Those varmints from The Bayou face The Boys in Dallas. Be at the Cowboys Corral, at high noon.

Courtesy: Mickey Spagnola; edited by Robert D Knight

Editors note: Mentioned in this article … Ben Bloom (quality control), Dave Borgonzi (volunteer assistant)

PREGAME PREPARATION: Ten New Orleans Saints that Dallas Cowboys fans need to know (Special Feature)

PREGAME PREPARATION - Ten New Orleans Saints that Dallas Cowboys fans need to know (Special Feature) - The Boys Are Back blog

Photo: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The Dallas Cowboys are right in the thick of things after a big win over Pittsburgh. But an 8-6 record can only take you so far, and the Cowboys must now win against a high flying Saints team to keep the momentum going. So before the Cowboys host New Orleans this weekend, here’s a look at 10 Saints you ought to know before kickoff.

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Photo: Chris Graythen/Getty Images

QB Drew Brees – One of the greatest players to ever play the position, Brees is in the midst of another great statistical year despite the Saints’ struggles. In Week 5, he broke Johnny Unitas’ record for consecutive games with at least one touchdown pass, which had stood over 50 years. Brees has passed for 4,335 yards and 36 touchdowns this season but has thrown 18 interceptions including five against the Falcons a few weeks ago. He did bounce back and threw for 307 yards and 4 TD’s with no interceptions against Tampa Bay last week so the Cowboys secondary must be ready a tough challenge.

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RISING STAR: Dwayne Harris emerging as a playmaker on special teams and offense

Pittsburgh Steelers strong safety Will Allen (26) brings down Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dwayne Harris - The Boys Are Back blog

Dallas Cowboys punt returner Dwayne Harris has made major contributions since taking over that role from Dez Bryant on Nov. 4 against Atlanta. Heading into Sunday’s game against New Orleans, Harris has averaged 13.9 yards per return, including a 78-yarder for a touchdown against Philadelphia and three additional efforts of 20 or more yards against Cleveland (20), Atlanta (37) and Pittsburgh (39).

Harris always knew he would be a success once he got his chance. It was convincing the Cowboys that was the harder part. A sixth-round draft choice in 2011, Harris was released during his rookie season. He later was re-signed to the active roster from the practice squad. Harris played in seven games last season with 15 punt returns and eight kickoff returns and no real impact other than a 51-yard kickoff return against the Eagles on Dec. 24.

“Whatever they need me to do, I think I can be a great player for this team and in this league. The sky’s the limit,” Harris said Friday. “I’ve always got … that chip on your shoulder to go out there and play your best. I let my game speak for itself. The doubters, they’ll go away.”

Harris also has 15 receptions _ 15 more than last season _ and is coming off a four-catch, 46-yard performance in last week’s 27-24 overtime victory over Pittsburgh. Three of his four grabs against the Steelers came on second-half touchdown drives, including a pair of pivotal receptions on bubble screens: an 18-yarder on a second-and-23 play to extend one scoring drive, as well a 17-yarder in the Steelers’ red zone that set up a 3-yard touchdown run by DeMarco Murray.

“He’s really grown a lot as a player,” coach Jason Garrett said. “He’s made some splash plays. But you don’t want to be a flash player. You want to be a guy that’s a consistent player. I think he’s shown that over the last half of this season.”

MANAGING EMOTIONS: Drew Pearson sees a lot of Tom Landry in Jason Garrett

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones shakes hands with Drew Pearson, who was inducted into the Ring of Honor at Cowboys Stadium on Nov. 6, 2011 - The Boys Are Back blog

ARLINGTON — The Dallas Cowboys will take the field for the next two weeks hoping to continue their run to the playoffs.

It will also be their attempt to move forward from the tragedy and emotional roller coaster they have never experienced.

The death of linebacker Jerry Brown, and the status of nose tackle Josh Brent — charged in the death of his best friend and teammate — will certainly cast a shadow on the rest of the Cowboys’ season, no matter how they finish.

“Oh, yeah, it is absolutely that,” said coach Jason Garrett, whose leadership and handling of the team during this trying situation has already been hailed as the crowning moment of his coaching tenure. “It’s an ongoing thing for a long, long time for everybody. Nobody who is associated with this organization, this football team who knows Jerry and Josh and this situation, this tragedy will never be the same as a result of it.”

Mike Jenkins, left, Jay Ratliff and the rest of the Cowboys continue the healing process - The Boys Are Back blog

The Cowboys (8-6) will use football to take their minds off the tragedy and to continue living. Making a run to the playoffs is the best way they feel they can honor Brown.

Still, some things can never be forgotten.

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CORNERBACK ATTACK: Dallas Cowboys will need Morris Claiborne to beat Saints

Dallas Cowboys CB Morris Claiborne scores on a 50 yard fumble recovery vs Philadelphia Eagles - The Boys Are Back blog

The Dallas Cowboys were able to get by in pass coverage last week without Morris Claiborne against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

They’ll need him this week against the New Orleans Saints.

Ben Roethlisberger was still showing the effects of a rib injury that kept him sidelined for three weeks over the Thanksgiving holiday. His passes lacked their usual crispness against the Cowboys, sailing high, low and behind his receivers a good portion of the afternoon.

That’s never been a problem for Saints quarterback Drew Brees, one of the most accurate passers ever to play the game. He has completed 65.57 percent of his career throws, second best in NFL history. He hits his receivers in stride, which allows them to add yardage after the catch.

The Saints rank second in the NFL in passing, and Brees leads all quarterbacks with 4,335 yards. All four of his primary targets at wide receiver — Marques Colston, Devery Henderson, Lance Moore and Joseph Morgan — have 100-yard receiving games this season, as does tight end Jimmy Graham.

In addition, Darren Sproles leads NFL running backs with 60 receptions, and fellow halfback Pierre Thomas ranks third in the NFL in yards after the catch at 10.1.

The Saints force defenses to cover every patch of earth on the football field. Brees has Henderson deep, Graham on seam routes and Colston and Moore on slants and outs all day.

If a defense elects to sit back in zones, Brees will feed Sproles and Thomas with screens and swings — so even your defensive ends need to be involved in pass coverage.

The way to beat the Saints is to keep Brees and this explosive passing attack off the field, and opponents have done a superb job of that this season.

New Orleans has only played offense an average of 28 minutes per game this season, which explains why they are out of the playoff hunt at 6-8.

But for those 28 minutes, the Cowboys are going to need Claiborne, Brandon Carr, Mike Jenkins, Sterling Moore and Michael Coe on their A games. The Saints are going to give them a workout.

Brees has thrown 50 passes in a game three times this season. He has a 400-yard passing game and seven 300-yard games. His 36 touchdown passes lead the league, and he’s been sacked only 24 times.

Bring your track shoes.

RELATED: Claiborne expects to play Sunday against Saints

Morris Claiborne said that as of Wednesday, he feels fine and he expects to play on Sunday against the Saints. He said he passed his concussion tests and was cleared.

He knows the Cowboys will need every defensive back they can get against Drew Brees and his five big-play targets, although he was encouraged by the secondary’s showing without him against the Steelers last week.

“I feel like it’s way better the depth that we have, and the guys that are behind someone, they’re still playing,” said Claiborne, who practiced Wednesday. “So if someone were to happen to get out – for instance, I didn’t play last week, but we had a guy who could step in, and we didn’t lose anything.”

Claiborne said he is impressed by the way the team continues to find players who can come in and play. Cornerbacks Michael Coe and Sterling Moore each played days after arriving, and safety Eric Frampton has taken on a big role since originally being signed to help the special teams depth.

“Everybody comes in with some football smarts,” Claiborne said. “To get in here and to focus, to be able to learn this defense, you see guys staying after, just trying to get help and learn their position. It lets us know that it’s important to them because it’s important to us.”

On top of that, Claiborne said the new players have fit in personality-wise.

“Everybody that comes in here, it seems like he connects with us right like that,” Claiborne said. “I think the coaching staff does a great job of the guys they select to be in the locker room.”

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