Patriots-Cowboys matchup of the day: Thursday

Posted Oct. 13, 2011 @ 2:55 p.m.
Posted By Kevin Fishbain

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

Cowboys QB Tony Romo vs. Patriots passing defense

The Patriots caught a break in Week Five, let's face it. They got a Jets passing game that had been struggling and had to shut down Mark Sanchez, which, give them credit, they did, holding him to 166 yards passing.

Tony Romo, though, is a class above Sanchez, and he has a pair of top receivers and one of the league's best tight ends in Jason Witten.

Another problem that Romo causes for defenses is his mobility and ability to throw on the run by moving the pocket. The Patriots' safeties will need to avoid biting and keep Dez Bryant and Miles Austin from getting past them when Romo rolls out on a broken play.

This is also another test for the Patriots' pass rush, which showed some signs of life against New York, but still has been ineffective. The Cowboys have a rookie at right tackle in Tyron Smith, who has played well, and Bill Belichick might try to send pressure his way.

The Patriots still have, statistically, the league's worst passing defense. They might have found their starting free safety in James Ihedigbo, and this will be a big test to see if they can count on him at that spot the rest of the year. With the Cowboys spreading it out, it also will be important to have CB Ras-I Dowling back on the field.

Romo will try to get RB Felix Jones involved in the passing game. The Patriots did a good job of keeping the Jets' backs in check in the receiving game, and LBs Gary Guyton and Dane Fletcher will have to repeat that effort, because if Jones gets free in space, he is hard to stop.