By Adam Dobrowolski
Cold, Hard Football Facts Big D Beat Writer
Something about the Dallas Cowboys and Buffalo Bills coming together makes special things happen. (Just don't say that to Bills fans.) Obviously, there's Super Bowls XXVII and XXVIII. Then, there's the last meeting between these two teams, when a younger Tony Romo overcame five interceptions and the Cowboys on a late Nick Folk field goal, 25-24, in Buffalo's first Monday Night Football game in 13 years.
At least, the Bills can look back on Week 2 of the 1993 season. A 13-10 by Buffalo dropped Dallas to 0-2, a record in which no team at the time overcame to win a Super Bowl. (Just don't say to Bills fans that the 1993 Cowboys became the first 0-2 team to win a Super Bowl. It's just too painful.)
This match-up isn't as much about Buffalo's misery as it is about unique homecomings and close match-ups.
Fred Jackson wins the homecoming contest, as he will literally be playing on top of his old stopping grounds. Jackson's childhood home was in the same neighborhood that was destroyed to make way
for Cowboys Stadium. Although Jackson doesn't seem to be bitter about it, he'll definitely play in memory lane on Sunday.
Meanwhile, David Nelson will play football in front of his girlfriend tomorrow, only she is employed by the Cowboys. Of course, Nelson's girlfriend will be dressed in her Sunday best
as one of the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders. Meet the heart-melting Kelsi Reich. (No known relation to Bills comeback king Frank Reich.) She so smokin' hot she can hold skittles in her dimples. Seriously
. Pinch me now.
There will be a few guys waiting in line after the game just in case Nelson and Reich aren't on the same page with tomorrow's outcome.
Beyond that, we actually have the game as well, which promises to be a darn good one. The two teams share very similar success through the air on both sides of the ball, including an Offensive Passer Rating
that sees a difference of just 0.05 between Buffalo and Dallas. Meanwhile both running games are looking mighty strong heading into Sunday.
Looking at Offensive Passer Rating, we see a few slight differences. The Bills complete passes with a higher percentage, while the Dallas pass for more yards per attempt. Expect that to lead to a few deep passing attempts from Romo to Dez Bryant.
Defensive Passer Rating
isn't much different either, the Bills own only a 2.55 rating advantage. This will make ball control pivotal for Romo, as the Bills intercepted an AFC-high 15 passes in the first half of the season. If Romo comes close to reliving his 2007 MNF disaster, this game will be over quickly. If he takes care of the ball, the Cowboys be successful through the air. The Bills allow 63.60 percent of opponent passes to be completed (25th in the league) for a 7.67 Passing Yards per Attempt clip (22nd in league).
On the other side, the battle of the Hogs will be quite interesting. Buffalo owns the second-best Offensive Hogs
, largely because they open lanes for the versatile Jackson and they pass protect Ryan Fitzpatrick very well. Meanwhile, the Cowboys rank 11th in the Defensive Hog Index
. That makes DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer two key players in this game. Note that the Bills own a 1-2 record against the three teams (Jets, Giants, Raiders) who rank higher on the Defensive Hog Index than the Cowboys.
Finally, scoring efficiency will play a huge key. Perhaps it may be the biggest key of all, which is a troubling sign for the Cowboys. Through nine weeks, teams with the better scoring efficiency own a 106-24 record
. That rounds up to a 81.54 winning percentage. Dallas will need to shed it's all game for the first half of the season. They rank 23rd in Scoreability
and 19th in Bendability
. Remember, the Cowboys totaled more than 300 yards of offense but scored only six points in the first half against the lowly Seahawks.
If the Cowboys can break the trend, now's the time. In what should the toughest game in Novermber, the Cowboys may recount the haunted days of Bills' past (like nine giveaways in Super Bowl XXVII) to take care of scoring efficiency and win Sunday's game.