This is the first season that the Dallas Cowboys are over .500 since 2009, which is why I’m not completely sold on this team.
Just who are these guys? The last three years Dallas has finished 8-8 and the year before that, the Cowboys were 6-10.
DeMarco Murray, who has led the Cowboys in rushing every season since getting drafted in the third round of 2011, has enjoyed a breakout season this year. He’s the reason the Cowboys are here. Murray has scored 24 percent of the Cowboys’ offensive touchdowns and Dallas has leaned on him heavily.
Murray has benefitted from running behind arguably the best offensive line in the league by becoming the first NFL player to rush for 100 yards in eight consecutive games.
But if you keep using something too much, it’s eventually going to break. Murray has the most carries in the league — 80 more than LeSean McCoy who’s in second place. He’s carried the ball 20 times or more in 13 games this year.
Murray hasn’t seen anything comparable to what he will see in a NFC Wild Card playoff game on Sunday. San Francisco has been a shell of its defense last year and Seattle was still trying to find itself when the Cowboys beat the 12th man and the Seahawks in October.
The Lions are only allowing 69 rushing yards a game, and that’s with defensive tackle Nick Fairley only playing eight games this year.
Detroit is going to send an APB on Murray. They will be coached to limit, protect and punish the powerful back.
Which is why this game will come down to Tony Romo. The erratic gunslinger has been muzzled due to the highlight-reel running game. But if the running game is taken away, Romo, with a bad back, cannot be asked to carry this team.
Romo has the benefit of throwing to the 6-foot-2, 225-pound Dez Bryant. But Bryant has been thrown at 135 times but has only caught the ball 65 percent of the time. Pittsburgh’s Antonio Brown has reeled in 72 percent of his league-high 178 passes and that combined with his versatility is the reason he’s the best wideout in the league.
Romo’s other targets Cole Beasley and Terrance Williams don’t scare anyone. And his trusted confidant Jason Witten has really showed his age. The 32-year-old was thrown at 146 times to lead all tight ends in 2012. This year that number is only 87.
The Cowboys have weapons but they aren’t deep. And that’s why the ferocious front four of the Lions will be a huge problem for Dallas.
If Romo is required to win it, he will likely try to do too much and force a turnover — especially with Ndamukong Suh trying to squash him. Add in the fact that Romo is 1-3 in the playoffs and it doesn’t look good for the Cowboys.
The Cowboys are a pickup truck with a new wax job. They’re a 12-4 team that still has 8-8 rust spots.
Detroit’s tough defense is perfect for the playoffs and Romo is about to find out what Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees and Matt Ryan already know.——————
Cory Jennerjohn is from Wisconsin and has been in sports media for over 10 years. To contact Cory e-mail him at jeobs -at- yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter: Cory Jennerjohn