After their impressive win against the New York Giants, the 7-6 Cowboys will travel west to take on the Oakland Raiders. Oakland has had a disappointing season thus far with a record of 6-7. Injuries to quarterback Derek Carr and complete unpredictability of the team’s performances have led to the lackluster season.
Oakland’s last game against the Chiefs was an awful outing offensively. The team was held scoreless until the fourth quarter. That being said, there is no one on the Raiders offense that is worthy of this week’s spotlight. For that reason, I will turn to the defense.
On October 16th of this year, the Raiders acquired former 49ers linebacker, NaVorro Bowman. Bowman was scheduled to meet with the Cowboys after his meeting with Oakland, unfortunately for Dallas, the Raiders didn’t let Bowman leave the building without a contract.
Many Cowboy fans are left to think ‘what if’ Bowman could’ve been in the blue and silver during the absence of his college teammate at Penn State, Sean Lee.
Although Bowman is an older player and a step slower than what he once was, he still has provided solid linebacker play for the Raiders. Bowman is second on the team in tackles with 61, trailing only T.J. Carrie. Bowman’s 61 tackles also have him tied for 25th in the NFL with former defensive player of the year, Luke Kuechly.
Ever since Bowman arrived in Oakland he’s been the team’s leading tackler in all but one game. In his most recent game against Kansas City, Bowman had nine tackles and had one of the team’s four sacks.
Needless to say, the likes of Rod Smith, Alfred Morris, Jason Witten and every member of the Cowboys offensive line will find themselves having to deal with Bowman on multiple occasions on Sunday.
Bowman can be exploited in coverage though. He does have an interception on the year, but that was off of a play in which he wasn’t even on his feet. Heavy doses of Witten, Cole Beasley and anyone else willing to face Bowman one-on-one in open space will account for most of the Cowboys’ offense on Sunday.
The game between Oakland and Dallas should be a good one. However, it is not exactly the matchup everyone was expecting between these two at the beginning of the season. They are both desperate teams fighting for their playoff lives which usually makes for entertaining football. Expect them to leave everything on the field in order to keep their postseason dreams alive.
In the end, the Cowboys will prevail in a close one, 31-27 with the help of a long, time-consuming drive late in the game to put it away.