Cowboys vs. Steelers Preview

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This Sunday the Dallas Cowboys host the Pittsburgh Steelers as both battle for their playoff lives in their respective conferences. The game will be at 4:25 pm eastern time and will be shown on CBS.

Why you should watch: It’s that time of year again, with teams from both conferences jockeying for playoff position or simply to get into the playoffs. This is one of many games with playoff implications on both sides of the field. The Steelers need a win to keep pace with the Cincinnati Bengals, who won on Thursday night to give themselves a 1/2 game lead for the last wild card spot in the AFC. The Cowboys need a win to put pressure on the Giants, who are in Atlanta in a big game of their own. If the Cowboys can win and the Giants lose, then Dallas will be tied for first in the division with just two games to play.

What to watch for: As I mentioned earlier in the week, Dez Bryant is going to give it a go despite having a fractured index finger in his left hand. The Steelers have been at the top of the NFL this season in terms of passing yards allowed, and Bryant is an enormous asset of Dallas’s offense. Ryan Clark and Troy Polamalu will probably roll their safety help over to Bryant’s side, if only to ensure he is not the one to beat Pittsburgh. If Bryant cannot be effective, Jason Witten, Miles Austin, and Kevin Ogletree (among others) will have to step up for Dallas’s offense to be able to function at a winning level.

Key Matchups: Pittsburgh’s wide receivers are unheralded but are one of the more explosive units in the league. Mike Wallace has developed from just being a deep threat, and can now run many different routes and break them into big plays using his blazing speed. Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders have developed into quality secondary receivers, and now with Plaxico Burress back the Steelers have yet another red zone target for Ben Roethlisberger. If Dallas can limit their effectiveness, they will give the defensive line time to get home to Big Ben and disrupt the Pittsburgh offense.

The Pick: I think the Cowboys will show up in a big way this weekend, holding off the Steelers 20-17. Tony Romo has been clutch in the last few games, and will be able to lead his team to victory once again this Sunday. Dallas’s defense has been underrated this season, and they will step up as well to win this one on Sunday.

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