The Opponent: The New Orleans Saints, aka the defending world champs, aka still hungover on fruit punch and turpentine
Record: 7-3. Ties for second in the very frisky NFC South. The Saints and Bucs are the reason why Dallas could win out and still have no prayer of making the postseason.
The Line: Saints by 3.5. Home dogs at last.
Last Game: A systematic 39-14 dismantling of the pathetic Seahawks (who are on track to make the playoffs, by the way). Drew Brees passed for four touchdowns, and Marques Colston resurfaced with two TD grabs of his own. After a slow start to the year, the Saints have won three straight and now looked poised to hold you down and drool on your chest at will.
The Coach: Sean Payton, who stole Jerry Jones’ wine last year, according to Peter King. YOU’LL PAY FOR THAT, YANKEE!
The Offense: Cover your eyes! The Saints have found their offensive rhythm despite spending most of the year without Pierre Thomas and Reggie Bush. Bush was poised to play against Seattle last week, but the team held him out at the last moment. Chris Ivory has done a capable job at tailback, but is prone to fumbling. Take note, defensive strippers of the world. I like my strippers defensive.
The Defense: After a pedestrian start to the year, the Saints defense now ranks 4th overall in total yardage, but still lags significantly in picking off passes, a stat it dominated last year. The Saints are 27th in interceptions (due to a rash of injuries in the defensive backfield). But they have gotten their share of forced fumbles this year. That’s been the difference as the Saints have gotten on their hot streak. They began the year turning the ball over and not getting any takeaways. That’s going the other way now. Ruh roh.
Key Matchup: Breesus versus the Cowboys secondary. Sure, they got by the Giants (minus Steve Smith) and the Lions (though not without Megatron doing some damage). But now this rejuvenated Cowboys defense gets to play against a legit contender. You’ll hear a million times this week that Dallas upended the Saints last year (and knocked them from the ranks of the unbeaten). Can they do it again as spoilers this time? If they do, then this Garrett fellow be around for a while.