Kenny Decker

5 Keys To Victory For Dallas This Weekend In St. Louis

Created on Sept. 19, 2013 1:16 PM EST

Following last week’s loss at Kansas City to drop to 1-1, the Dallas Cowboys need to take care of business this Sunday when the St. Louis Rams come to town. With the depth of playoff potentials in the NFC, every conference game is important, especially at home.

The Cowboys should look to get in a little groove against St. Louis this week and San Diego the following week, before a showdown with Denver and then divisional games against Washington and at Philadelphia.

This Week 3 game against St. Louis is a huge game for Dallas, and here’s what they will need to do to pick up the win:

Run The Football Effectively

The Cowboys’ running game has been dismal to this point — tied for 26th in the league — and they will need DeMarco Murray to break through this week. The better Murray runs the ball, the more the passing game opens up. Murray needs to pound out yards on first and second down to prevent those third-and-longs that gave Dallas problems last week at Kansas City.

Protect Tony Romo

As we’ve seen in the first two weeks, when Romo has time in the pocket, he picks apart the defense. When he’s getting pressured and taking hits, he’s forced to make throws on the run, take sacks or, like last week, fumble the football.

St. Louis has one of the worst passing defenses in the league thus far, so the Cowboys will be able to take advantage of that if they protect their quarterback. A full week of practice for veteran Brian Waters will be helpful.

Force Turnovers

In Week 1, the Cowboys forced the Giants to turn the ball over 6 times. Last week at Kansas City, zero. The defense didn’t play poorly last week, but if they can force turnovers like they did against the Giants, it puts the offense in good field position.

Sam Bradford can be prone to forced throws from time to time, so expect the Cowboys to pick him off at least twice this Sunday. If the Cowboys win the turnover battle, they will be victorious.

Convert On Third Down

The Cowboys have been just dreadful on third down so far: 8-for-26 (30.8 percent), good for 29th in the league. This goes back to the importance of running the ball well — they need to avoid third-and-longs. They are going to face third downs, but they must be more efficient than this.

The offense is filled with weapons, and Romo can throw down the field as well as over the middle. There is no excuse for them not to convert on third down versus St Louis, who has the worst third-down defense in the NFL.

Blitz Sam Bradford

Bradford has started to become more comfortable in the pocket, and he has thrown the ball pretty well this season. The Cowboys need to pressure him. Force him out of the pocket, make him throw the ball away, make him take sacks, or make him force throws.

If they get to him early, he’ll be thinking about it the rest of the game; a sack on the opening series would be huge. DeMarcus Ware is the X-factor in this game. If he makes Bradford’s life hell on Sunday, the Cowboys will be packing their bags for San Diego with a 2-1 record.

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