Tale Of The Tape: Denver Broncos At Dallas Cowboys
- QuarterbackPeyton Manning is running away with the MVP award at this point, and there’s no reason to think he is going to slow down any time soon. Manning is running the Broncos’ offense with expertise and all of his teammates are responding to him. Manning has regained all of his arm strength, is reading defenses better than ever and he puts the ball on the money more often than anybody else.Tony Romo has been good this season, but that’s not enough when facing Manning and the Broncos. Romo is moving around the pocket well and is delivering the ball with excellent timing. He is coming off a solid 244-yard, two-TD performance against the Chargers and he’s going to have to do even better if the Cowboys are going to get the best of the Broncos.
- OffenseThe Broncos have enough balance to get the most out of their offense. Knowshon Moreno is quite important to the offense because his running takes some of the burden off Manning. Wes Welker has been sensational for the Broncos as he gets open against tight coverage and he is reliable. Eric Decker has a bit more range than Welker while Demaryius Thomas has game-breaking speed.DeMarco Murray is the kind of back who feeds on success. If he has a bit of it early, he can have a dominant game. Dez Bryant is a superb receiver who has grown dramatically in the past three seasons. He has the athletic ability to beat most defensive backs, but he has also developed the sophistication that makes him one of the best. Jason Witten can turn any third-down play into a first down.
- DefenseThe Broncos have been playing the kind of defense that complements their offense perfectly. Head coach John Fox has built a defense based on speed and that allows the Broncos to prevent big plays. Duke Ihenacho is a hard hitting strong safety who had nine tackles in Week Four vs. the Eagles. Linebacker Danny Trevathan has played at a Pro Bowl level all season.The Cowboys must find a way to put pressure on Manning without blitzing. If they do send linebackers or defensive backs after Manning, he will carve up the Dallas defense. The Cowboys have been getting a solid performance from middle linebacker Sean Lee all season. He was dominant vs. the Chargers with 18 tackles and an interception.
- Special TeamsThere appears to be no stopping Trindon Holliday, who has already had touchdown returns against the Giants and Cowboys. Since the Broncos are scoring so many touchdowns, they don’t have to turn to Matt Prater very often, but he is dependable when they do.The Cowboys have done a good job in their kickoff and punt coverage, but they are going to have to be even better against Holliday and his explosive moves. Dan Bailey is a good but not great placekicker, and the same holds true for punter Chris Jones.
The Broncos appear to be the best offensive team in the league by a wide margin. The Cowboys have two close losses to AFC West teams already, but if they can beat the Broncos it would elevate them to NFC East favorite status. -Steve Silverman, CBS Local Sports contributor