We’ll look at one matchup on both sides of the ball:
Raiders DE Richard Seymour vs. Cowboys LT Flozell Adams: Inexperienced replacement RT Doug Free will need help against ex-Cowboy Greg Ellis on passing plays. That means Adams will usually be left alone against Seymour.
The Seymour, who has four sacks this season, isn’t the kind of speedy edge rusher that tends to give Adams trouble. At 6-6, 310 pounds, Seymour relies more on power. That plays to the 6-7, 338-pound Adams’ strengths.
The importance of Adams’ job is increased with Tony Romo fighting lower back pain. The Cowboys can’t afford to have Seymour or any other Raider getting clean shots from Romo’s blind side.
Cowboys SS Gerald Sensabaugh and nickel LB Bobby Carpenter vs. Oakland TE Zach Miller: The Raiders’ receivers are speedy, but they certainly won’t scare the Cowboys’ secondary. Darrius Heyward-Bey, Louis Murphy and Johnnie Lee Higgins have combined to catch only 30 of the 111 passes thrown their way this season.
Miller is by far the Raiders’ most efficient receiving threat. He leads Oakland with 34 catches (on 54 targets) for 495 yards and two touchdowns. Shut down the 6-5, 255-pound Miller and the Oakland aerial attack goes kaput.
The Cowboys have allowed five touchdown passes to tight ends this season, but they’ve done a much better job covering tight ends than in the recent past. That’s primarily because Sensabaugh is so much better in coverage than Roy Williams and the other strong safeties the Cowboys used last season. Carpenter has also been effective in coverage in his first season as the nickel linebacker.
The Cowboys can afford to make Miller the focus of their coverage schemes. That’s what they did with Atlanta’s Tony Gonzalez, holding the future Hall of Famer to 37 yards on four catches.