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5 Things To Watch For In New Orleans Saints-Dallas Cowboys Sunday Night Game

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Saints vs. Cowboys: 5 Things to Watch For

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Another great week of football has come and gone. Like the nine weeks before it, Week 10 offered football fans plenty of action, surprises and upsets.

In a Thursday night surprise, the Minnesota Vikings defeated the Washington Redskins 34-27 and dropped Washington to 3-6 on the season. This is similar to what happened to the Redskins last season when they won seven in a row and ended up qualifying for postseason play. That might happen again this year, but who knows.

In other surprises, the St. Louis Rams won a lopsided game against the Indianapolis Colts 38-8. This comes as a surprise because the Colts had defeated other powerhouse teams such as the Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos. The Colts were at home, too, so this should have been one to chalk up in the win column.

The NFC North found itself with a new leader after the Detroit Lions defeated the Chicago Bears and took sole possession of first place with a 6-3 record. The Green Bay Packers lost their second game in a row to the Philadelphia Eagles. Forced to rely on backup quarterbacks Seneca Wallace and Scott Tolzien after Aaron Rodgers was injured last week, suddenly the Packers are in a very bad spot in the second half of the season.

The Jacksonville Jaguars also notched their first victory of the season in a divisional game that didn’t really matter. The other winless team so far, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, play a Monday night game against the Miami Dolphins at home. Normally I would pick the Dolphins over the Tampa Bay, but with the turmoil going on in Miami’s locker room right now I think it’s anybody’s game.

Here now are five things to watch for in the New Orleans Saints Sunday night game against the Dallas Cowboys.

Jack Cavanaugh is a New Orleans Saints contributing writer for Follow him on Twitter @cav_jack, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.

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5. Defensive Injuries Are Key

Crystal LoGiudice-USA TODAY Sports

Linebackers David Hawthorne and Curtis Lofton are both listed as questionable on the Saints' website after not practicing Friday. Hawthorne has a toe injury and Lofton has a hamstring issue. This is important after New Orleans placed fellow linebacker Jonathan Vilma on the injured-reserve list, making them that much thinner at the position. Defensive end Cameron Jordan is also dealing with an ankle injury and is listed as questionable as well.

Lofton and Hawthorne are among the leading tacklers on the team. and Jordan is having a breakout year in Rob Ryan's defensive scheme with a team-leading six sacks. If these players do not play against the Cowboys other players like Kenny Vaccaro and Junior Galette must step up their game and deliver.

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4. Will Saints Opt To Run More Against A Poor Dallas Secondary?

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

After a heartbreaking loss to the New York Jets in Week 9 Saints head coach Sean Payton admitted he did not run the ball enough. This was apparent when the Saints could not pick up a third-and-inches and then a fourth-and-inches.

Coming into Week 10 the Cowboys' defense is ranked No. 25 against the run, but their pass defense is No. 31. It would be nice to gain some balance on offense, but the temptation to throw it might be hard to fight if Dallas' secondary keeps giving up yards.

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3. Will Dez Bryant Burn The Saints Again?

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Last year Cowboys receiver Dez Bryan racked up 224 yards and two touchdowns against the Saints. Bryant has been up and down this year, like his team, but the Romo-Bryant connection could come alive at any time.

It will be interesting to see how Saints defensive coordinator Rob Ryan chooses to defend against the likes of Bryant just one year removed from his days in Dallas as the defensive coordinator there.

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2. Rob Ryan Revenge Factor

Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

Speaking of Rob Ryan, he must want a victory over Dallas more than anybody. He led a pretty solid defense during his tenure there and was let go for reasons that were probably not his fault.

The Cowboys' defense has struggled since Ryan's departure, plummeting to the bottom half of the pack in 2013. There is likely a revenge factor at play here.

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1. Drew Brees Will Likely Throw For 300 Or More Yards

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Drew Brees is having another solid year having thrown for 2,672 yards, 21 touchdowns and only seven interceptions. He has also thrown for 300 or more yards in six of eight games this year.

Brees and company will be going up against a weak secondary and it's likely he'll throw for 300 or more yards. It should be a joy to watch.