Cowboys vs. Falcons 2012 game preview: Dallas, desperate for win, visits unbeaten Atlanta

Matthew Emmons-US PRESSWIRE

Following a heartbreaking loss, the Dallas Cowboys will get a shot at ending the Atlanta Falcons' undefeated start on Sunday night.

So far, the Dallas Cowboys have been up and down this season, and suffered an excruciating loss at home to the division rival New York Giants in Week 8 after it appeared wide receiver Dez Bryant had hauled in a game-winning touchdown pass, only to have it overturned because he landed out of bounds. At 3-4, the Cowboys will look to get back to .500.

The road doesn't get any easier for Dallas, however, as they head to Atlanta to face the undefeated Falcons on Sunday night. Atlanta is coming off of a dominant win in Philadelphia over the Eagles, as the Falcons have used an explosive passing attack and sturdy defense to become the current class of the NFC.

Meet the Atlanta Falcons

With wide receivers Roddy White and Julio Jones, along with tight end Tony Gonzalez, quarterback Matt Ryan has enjoyed plenty of success this season. Atlanta's 270.7 passing yards per game ranks eighth in the league, and Ryan has thrown for 17 touchdowns and six interceptions.

Defensively, the Falcons give up an average of 18.6 points per game, and their passing yards allowed per contest ranks 10th-best overall in the NFL at 216.9. Additionally, their plus-10 turnover margin is third-best in the league and one of only three teams to have a positive difference in double figures.

Meet the Dallas Cowboys

The Cowboys pass well (297.3 yards per game, good for third in the NFL) and defend the pass well (187.7 yards allowed, also good for third in the league), but have lost two of their last three games in the closing minutes. Despite only allowing 292.4 total yards per game defensively -- the fourth-best mark in the NFL -- their turnover margin of minus-11 is the worst in the NFC.

Quarterback Tony Romo has been a major factor in the Cowboys' turnover struggles. He's thrown for 13 interceptions -- the most in the league -- and has also fumbled four times.

Local Takes: Falcons

Alex Welch from The Falcoholic says this Atlanta team simply knows how to win:

Indoors, outdoors, at home, on the road, in the rain, against Andy Reid coming off his bye week, with Matt Ryan throwing three interceptions. None of it has mattered so far. Somehow they were the underdogs against the Eagles, because who expected the undefeated team to come out on top?

Local Takes: Cowboys

Tom Ryle of Blogging the Boys assesses where the Cowboys should go from here:

The team needs to do something, I think. Jason Garrett isn't going anywhere this year, and Tony Romo is not going to be replaced this year. A trade or even a cut might be just what the team needs, if the right message is attached to it. Dumping Felix Jones, right now, however it was done, would be a very good move. Based on what was seen last game, he would hardly be missed in the running game, and maybe a couple of other players would try a little bit harder. The team needs something to shake things up without blowing them apart.

Follow the Fun

Be sure to check out SB Nation's team blogs, The Falcoholic and Blogging the Boys, for more analysis and highlights from the game.

Add these fine follows to your Twitter timeline:



@GaSportsCraze - Atlanta Falcons columnist

@TheCowboysTimes - Jonathan Bales, Dallas Cowboys writer


From the Week 9 picks:

Sometimes, a stat can be all the preview you need. The Falcons are plus-10 in the turnover ratio this year. The Cowboys are minus-11. How many picks Tony Romo throws is the real question here.

The pick: 34-20, Falcons.


According to OddsShark, the Falcons opened the week as 3-point favorites and currently are favored by 4 points over the Cowboys.

Next Week

Atlanta heads to New Orleans to face their division rival Saints for the first time this season in Week 10. As for the Cowboys, Week 10 sees them head to Philadelphia to square off against the Eagles on Sunday afternoon.

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