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Scouting the Saints 2015 Opponents: Week 4 vs. Dallas Cowboys

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Let's dissect each of our opponents this upcoming season.

Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

The Saints face the Dallas Cowboys in the Dome on Sunday, October 4th - Our first prime time game of the season. Let’s do some breakdowns ahead of the match-up to get a glimpse of what the Saints are marching into.

Series Matchup All-Time

(Full list here, via The Football Database)

Saints 11 - Cowboys 16

Last 5 Games

(2014-2015)  Saints 17 - Cowboys 38

(2013-2014) Cowboys 17 - Saints 49

(2012-2013) Saints 34 - Cowboys 31

(2010-2011) Saints 30 - Cowboys 27

(2009-2010) Cowboys 24 - Saints 17

The Saints are 4-2 against the Cowboys with Brees at the helm, and 8-2 their last 10 match ups. Obviously here, the most important result is the most recent - A game in which the Saints were pretty dominantly pantsed

2014-2015 Cowboys Totals

(Saints #1 total offense, #31 total defense according to ESPN)

Total Offense #7

Passing/YPG #16

Rushing/YPG #2

Total Defense #10

Passing/YPG #11

Rushing/YPG #16

Projected Rosters

Saints

Cowboys

Offense

QB

Drew Brees

Tony Romo

Luke McCown

Brandon Weeden

Garrett Grayson

Dustin Vaughan

RB

Mark Ingram

Darren McFadden

CJ Spiller

Joseph Randle

Khiry Robinson

Lance Dunbar

WR

Brandin Cooks

Dez Bryant

Marques Colston

Terrance Williams

Nick Toon

Devin Street

TE

Josh Hill

Jason Witten

Benjamin Watson

Gavin Escobar

LT

Terron Armstead

Tyron Smith

LG

Tim Lelito

Ronald Leary

C

Max Unger

Travis Frederick

RG

Jahri Evans

Zack Martin

RT

Zach Strief

Doug Free

Defense

LDE

Akiem Hicks

Demarcus Lawrence

NT/LDT

Kevin Williams

Nick Hayden

NT/RDT

Tyrone Crawford

RDE

Cam Jordan

Jeremy Mincey

LOLB

Hau'oli Kikaha

Anthony Hitchens

LILB

Stephone Anthony

Rolando McClain

RILB

Dannell Ellerbe

ROLB

Anthony Spencer

Sean Lee

LCB

Keenan Lewis

Brandon Carr

RCB

Brandon Browner

Orlando Scandrick

NCB

Delvin Breaux

Byron Jones

SS

Kenny Vaccaro

Barry Church

FS

Jairus Byrd

J.J. Wilcox

Special Teams

K

Dustin Hopkins

Dan Bailey

P

Thomas Morstead

Chris Jones

*For match-up purposes, I don’t think it necessary to include guys like Mike Brewster, Nick Becton, or Willie Snead in projections. Guys that were included are likely to get some playing time in each game.

Key Cowboys

Offense

Dez Bryant (2x Pro Bowl, 1x FT AP) - Dez had an excellent season last year, leading all receivers with 16 TDs on 88 receptions and over 1300 yards. Whether Dez's TD number and curious reception total (he wears #88) are a product of him constantly being in Romo's ear are secondary to the fact that he's a top-3 WR in the NFL. He only had 3 receptions for 44 yards against the Saints last season, but given what transpired in that game, I suspect his lack of productivity had more to do with the Cowboys playing solid all around football than requiring their best player to step up his game. Look for Jairus Byrd to provide a safety net over the top for the Saints CBs... Or look for Delvin Breaux to sheaux he's legit...

Tony Romo (4x Pro Bowl, 1x ST AP) - Completing near 70% of his passes for 34 TDs and only 9 picks, Romo had a great season last year - A season in which he posted a career-best 113.2 passer rating. In our match up against the Cowboys last September, Romo threw for about 260 yards and 3 TDs with 76% of his passes complete. A very different secondary this time around, Romo may not be able to see his receivers as easily. Given the split we've had with the Cowboys the last two games, together with Romo's mercurial nature and the Saints revamped/healthy defensive secondary, I don't see him completing three quarters of his passes against us again.

80% of the Cowboys Offensive Line (Combined 4x Pro Bowl, 2x FT AP, 2x ST AP) - With a mean age of just 24.5 years, Travis Frederick (24), Zack Martin (24), Ronald Leary (26), and Tyron Smith (24) form a corps of what looks to be one of the best offensive lines in the NFL for years to come. Throw in RT Doug Free, PFF's #20 ranked tackle for 2014, and you basically have that impenetrable CDC fortress from season 1 of The Walking Dead. Though DeMarco Murray is no slouch, he owes much of his production last season to these guys up front (and almost 400 carries).

Defense

Orlando Scandrick - Despite missing the first two games of the 2014 season, Scandrick quietly played great football the rest of the year. Stick Cooks on the left and let him take on PFF's 10th ranked all-around CB (8th in coverage).

TL;DR

Despite losing DeMarco Murray to the Eagles, the Cowboys were 12-4 last season and a play shy of potentially advancing to the NFC Championship game. They boast the league's best offensive line, a productive-when-productive QB, an elite WR (and a pair of promising #2-3 WRs), a solid all-around, albeit somewhat aged, tight end, and some decent defensive pieces (yes, they added "The Kraken", though fortunately and fortuitously he is suspended the first 4 games of the season). Their RB corps is a bit of a mystery at this time with McFadden nursing a hamstring ail, and will remain a mystery upon his return given his dubitable history at the position. Add to the confusion the absurd split in the last two match ups (the first of which the Saints broke a 25 year old single game first down record - 40), and I have this one being the biggest question mark of the season for us. Our defensive secondary will truly be tested for the first time if Romo gets extra time in the pocket - a dangerous proposition with Dez on the field.

Feedback on depth chart and other bits of information to include in this series is appreciated.