Game Scout: Broncos at Cowboys

The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

Denver Broncos (4-0) at Dallas Cowboys (2-2)
Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET, at AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas - TV: CBS
*TV announcers: Jim Nantz, Phil Simms
*Keys to the game: Broncos QB Peyton Manning has 16 touchdowns, zero interceptions and all the treasure maps needed to run circles around a Cover Two defense. The Cowboys have three talented cornerbacks to stack against Denver's base three-receiver formations, but have had no easy answers for tight ends and running backs. The Cowboys would like to control the clock and limit the Broncos' possessions. RB DeMarco Murray becomes the key to grinding out drives against the Broncos. However, Denver leads the league with 74 rushing yards allowed per game despite showing some cracks (166 yards allowed) against Philadelphia. The Cowboys might line up in the Pistol formation more often to get Murray running downhill before the defense can react.
*Matchup to watch - Broncos CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie vs. Cowboys WR Dez Bryant -- The Broncos have the 30th-ranked pass defense in the league if only because at 44 points per game teams are falling behind early and have been forced to throw. Bryant has 23 catches -- 19 for first downs -- for 282 yards and four touchdowns this season and the Cowboys plan to lean on him even more going forward.
*Player spotlight - Cowboys CB Morris Claiborne: The "11" formation -- one back, one tight end and three receivers -- is the NFL's most popular, and keeps Claiborne on the field. But he admits he lacks confidence in the zone scheme of Monte Kiffin and doesn't start in the base defense. A big game against Eric Decker and Demaryius Thomas -- Orlando Scandrick draws Wes Welker -- could be the boost he needs.
*Fast facts: The Broncos have won 15 consecutive regular-season games by at least seven points. Only the 1941-42 Bears had a longer streak. ... The Cowboys have allowed two 400-yard passers in four games.
A seven-point home underdog, the Cowboys can't settle for three points if they envision being in the game by sundown. Tony Romo keeps Dallas in it before Peyton Manning has the final say.
*Our pick: Broncos 36-26

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