In their past two get-togethers with Peyton Manning, the Cowboys have entered the game in a vulnerable spot but have exited with a win each time. Though history tends to repeat itself, as I documented earlier this week, sometimes it gives you a chance to learn from your mistakes, which Manning seems to be doing a lot of this season. In addition, when your defense is coming a performance where they allowed Philip Rivers alone to tally 401 yards, you don't enter a game with Peyton Manning with much confidence.
The Cowboys defense has told anyone who will listen this week that they're sick of all the Manning talk. It's nice for them to come out and say it, but as Rob Ryan demonstrated, talk is cheap. If the Cowboys were to pull off the upset, it would make a statement that would send vibrations throughout the NFL landscape. However, I've seen enough of this team in the past decade to know that they'll come up short when they absolutely can't. It's happened twice already this season. Dallas could be 4-0 at this point, but have blown two perfectly winnable games. While I think they'll keep it closer than anticipated with the mighty Broncos, asking for a win at this point is too much.
Prediction: Broncos 38, Cowboys 27
I keep telling myself that we’ve beaten Peyton Manning in the last two meetings. Obviously he isn’t playing with a horseshoe on his helmet anymore but he is still shredding defenses. Manning is playing some of his best football, but honestly, he has to return to earth eventually, right?
Inconsistency has been the mark of this Dallas team so far this year but in the past the talent has seemed to shine brightest in games against the best teams. I think Dallas will bounce back this week and play Denver close. If the defense can force Manning into his first turnovers of the year, Dallas has a good shot at winning, but Bryant, Romo and Murray have to keep Manning on the sidelines for as much time as possible.
I said this before, but this is essentially the first “must-win” of the season. The Cowboys are currently in first place in the NFC East and have the Redskins and Eagles coming up. A win essentially put them in a control their own destiny scenario especially if they win both the upcoming divisional games.
That being said, Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos bring a formidable task that will challenge the Cowboys in every facet of the game. I do think the Cowboys can exploit some matchups and I expect that Jason Witten and even Gavin Escobar can be keeping the Cowboys in front of the chains. I don’t expect a shootout, I expect a perfectly strategized ball controll attack by the Cowboys that will give them a chance to win. You’ll want consistency from DeMarco Murray which could open up play-action and an efficient, methodical dissection of the Broncos and their perfect record.
Prediction: Cowboys 27 Broncos 24