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On the Beat: 5 questions about the Cowboys

Posted by Greg A. Bedard  October 14, 2011 04:00 PM

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We check in this week with the esteemed Charean Williams, NFL columnist for the Fort Worth Star-Telegam, who is in her 18th year covering the league.

1. So exactly how are the Cowboys going to prevent Bad Romo from surfacing against Bill Belichick? Voodoo? Bye week brainwashing?

Williams: Romo typically has followed up a bad performance with a good one. The week after two fourth-quarter turnovers cost them in a loss to the Jets in the season opener, he played the role of hero against the 49ers. Since the loss to the Lions, Jason Garrett repeatedly has talked about putting his players in good situations. That could mean he is going to change his play calls to "reign in" Romo a bit.

2. Who is the one Cowboys player most Patriots fans don't know right now, but will by the end of the game on Sunday?

Williams: Dallas' nickel back, Orlando Scandrick, has been out since suffering a high-ankle sprain in the season opener against the Jets. He returns this week and draws Wes Welker. No cornerback can stop Welker, but Scandrick could hold Welker to his season lows (7-81-0 vs. San Diego).

3. What's the biggest weakness on the Cowboys' offense you expect the Patriots to try to exploit?

Williams: The Cowboys have two rookies in their starting offensive line, and another player who has five career starts. Left guard Bill Nagy and right tackle Tyron Smith are in their first seasons, and center Phil Costa is in his second. Tony Romo has been sacked seven times in four games and hit many more, including the shot in the 49ers game that fractured his rib and punctured a lung.

4. What's the biggest weakness on the Cowboys' defense you expect the Patriots to try to exploit?

Williams: The Cowboys are susceptible to the big play. Their starting cornerbacks, Mike Jenkins and Terence Newman, have rebounded from off seasons in 2009, but Calvin Johnson reminded them two weeks ago that they can be beat.

5. Finally, Cowboys win on Sunday if....

Williams: Rob Ryan can duplicate his game plan against the Patriots from last season. The last time the Patriots didn’t score 30 points was when the Browns upset them 34-14 as Ryan’s defense limited Tom Brady to only 19-of-36 for 224 yards and two touchdowns.

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Thanks to Charean for her time. Check out the Star-Telegram's Cowboys coverage, and follow her on Twitter: @NFLCharean.

News, analysis and commentary from Boston.com's staff writers and contributors, including Zuri Berry and Erik Frenz.

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