Dissecting the Cowboys’ porous secondary is a validated reason to prove they have a slim chance of pulling off the upset, especially facing likely MVP-winner Peyton Manning. The Cowboys’ defense ranks 27th against the pass and are allowing opposing quarterbacks to average 304 yards per game.
Last week, they not only allowed San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers to torch them for 401 passing yards, he set an NFL record for completion percentage. There are only three teams in the league who have completed 70 percent of their teams passes, and the Broncos are one of their teams. Manning has completed 75 percent of his passes to go along with a 138 passer rating and he has yet to throw an interception.
The most concerning aspect of the Cowboys’ struggles against the pass has been the lackluster performances from their highly touted first-round draft pick Morris Clariborne and struggling linebacker Bruce Carter. Claiborne has given up 16 completions on 24 targets this year, and his last interception occurred in Week 6 of the 2012 campaign. Carter, who will most likely be replaced by Ernie Sims this week, has surrendered 24 catches on 34 targets. Both of their underwhelming efforts have contributed largely to the Cowboys’ inept ability to defend against the pass.
Even with all of the problems the Cowboys have involving their corners and their safeties, it’s not like the Cowboys can simply send in DeMarcus Ware or Jason Hatcher to pressure Manning. This year, Manning is posting a 141.3 passer rating while completing 63 percent of his passes and has thrown four touchdown passes when he is facing the blitz. It is obvious Manning thrives on offense when he is faced with additional pressure.
To be quite honest, there is not any great way to say it, but with all of these facts, it is not shaping up to be an easy afternoon for the Cowboys’ defense. As much as they hate to hear about how amazing Manning’s year has been, they will be witnessing it front and center. Luckily for the Cowboys, they play in a a weak and up-for-grabs NFC East.
Ryan Neiman writes for Rant Sports covering Dallas Cowboys Football. You can follow him on Twitter @FantasyUSports or @RyanNAnthony.