Patriots-Cowboys matchup of the day: Tuesday

Posted Oct. 11, 2011 @ 7:16 p.m.
Posted By Kevin Fishbain

Here's a key matchup to watch in the Week Six game between the Patriots and Cowboys:

Patriots QB Tom Brady vs. Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan

For the second week in a row, Tom Brady faces a Ryan brother's defense. This week, it's Rob Ryan's Cowboys. Brady handled his business last week against Rex Ryan's Jets, helping get the Patriots to 4-1. This Sunday he faces a Cowboys team that is coming off a bye and in need of a win.

Last season, Brady struggled against Ryan in the Patriots' last regular-season loss of the year against the Browns. Brady completed a season-low 52.8 percent of his passes in the 34-14 loss. He didn't throw a pick in the game, but Brady and the offense could only muster 14 points. They rattled off eight consecutive wins after that game.

This season, Ryan has even more playmakers to work with in Dallas, especially OLB DeMarcus Ware, who will lead the Cowboys' attempt to put pressure on Brady. Ryan will disguise fronts — he sometimes had zero defensive linemen on plays against Brady last season. Brady has torched teams that have brought pressure, so look for Dallas to keep more players in coverage and count on the defensive front to try to get to the Patriots' signalcaller, especially Marcus Spears and Jay Ratliff, playing as linebackers. Victor Butler could also be a factor.

Against the Jets last week, the Patriots moved the ball well on the ground, which took pressure off Brady, who has had to win many games for the Pats by throwing. New England will try to keep things balanced, but Brady has to be sure to avoid mistakes against a defense that will be looking to create turnovers.