A big focus on this week’s game between the New England Patriots and the Dallas Cowboys will be the Patriots defensive line vs. the Cowboys offensive line. Both are amongst the best in the league for their position groups and a key to victory for New England will be to beat the Cowboys offensive line consistently.
The Patriots defense currently ranks 5th in team sacks, behind the Broncos, Packers, Rams and Steelers who have all played one more game than New England. The Patriots are led by defensive ends Chandler Jones and Jabaal Sheard and linebacker Jamie Collins who make up 8.5 of the teams 13 sacks on the year. Though getting after Brandon Weeden wont be as crucial to the game as it would if Tony Romo was healthy and playing, you don’t want to give any quarterback time in the pocket to make plays and to allow his receivers to get open. The Cowboys had the leagues best offensive line last year headlined by left tackle Tyron Smith and rookie guard Zach Martin and still are the leagues most talented offensive line in the views of most people, despite being amongst one of the leagues most penalized offensive lines early in the season. With that being said, it is a good reason why the Patriots should bring the blitz at Weeden, get after him, and sack him, or be held and move them back and try making Weeden beat you, which lets face it he can’t do.
A key will be stopping the Cowboys running game. The Patriots have struggled this year defending the run, they improved vs. Jacksonville but that was in a blowout game where the Jaguars had to throw the ball because they were down by so many points. The Cowboys o-line and running backs are also a lot better than the Jaguars, though Joseph Randle has had fumbling problems as of late and Darren McFadden has looked like he has his whole NFL career, a bust. Travis Frederick and Zach Martin are strong interior blockers and could provide room for whoever is in Dallas’ backfield.
In a game that should be an easy win for the Patriots, especially coming off a bye, watching how the defensive line plays will be something of interest to see. The Cowboys offensive line is one of, if not the best in the league and seeing how the Patriots perform against them will be a good test to see if they are as good as they’ve looked so far, and a good test for the defense.