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Game Scout: Raiders at Cowboys

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Oakland Raiders (4-7) at Dallas Cowboys (6-5)

Thursday, 4:30 p.m. ET, at AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas - TV: CBS

*TV announcers: Jim Nantz, Phil Simms

*Keys to the game: The Raiders are more balanced in their play-calling with QB Matt McGloin, the third starter used by Oakland this season, at the helm. McGloin is accurate but not special in any key scout-minded skill: arm strength, speed, size. The Cowboys rarely blitz in front of their Cover Two shell, but that option will be employed if the front four doesn't get home in the first few series. RBs Rashad Jennings and Darren McFadden are a solid 1-2 punch, but neither commands an eight-man box. With WR Denarius Moore (shoulder) unlikely to play, Rod Streater draws CB Brandon Carr, a recipe Dallas would expect to invite McGloin to challenge downfield. The Cowboys can't claim a balanced approach with their 2-to-1 pass-run ratio. QB Tony Romo and his four top receivers, including TE Jason Witten, figure to keep up the high-speed game of catch against Oakland's 25th-ranked pass defense. Less has been more for RB DeMarco Murray, who has three straight games with a 25-plus yard run since returning from a knee injury.

*Matchup to watch - Cowboys WR Dez Bryant vs. Raiders FS Charles Woodson: Woodson has three takeaways but with the Raiders trying to harass Romo up front, Woodson could be locked in on Bryant as the topside help in Oakland's zone scheme. Bryant is trying to shake his string of slow starts to games, but continues to come up with big plays when Romo keeps him tuned in. Woodson last played against Dallas in 2010. He had a sack and forced fumble.

*Player spotlight - Cowboys LB Bruce Carter: Sean Lee (hamstring) isn't likely to return despite early optimism he would be back. With Lee out, Carter has played faster and more decisively in his reappearance in the starting lineup after being benched earlier this season.

*Fast facts - The Raiders are 0-3 vs. NFC East teams this season. Dallas beat Oakland 24-7 on Thanksgiving Day 2009 in the holiday debut of Cowboys Stadium. ... McGloin has been sacked just twice in 79 pass attempts. Other Raiders quarterbacks were sacked 36 times in 258 drop backs this season.


Dallas has a habit of playing down to the competition, and the Cowboys are susceptible if the Raiders hang around into the fourth quarter. QB Tony Romo should slice through the secondary of Oakland and perhaps leave some late-game leftovers for Kyle Orton to make his 2013 debut.

*Our pick: Cowboys 30-16

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