1:00 PM ET, December 23, 2012
AT&T Stadium, Arlington, TX
Now that the Dallas Cowboys have moved into a tie for first place in the NFC East, Jerry Jones is thinking Super Bowl.
The New Orleans Saints have not yet been eliminated but it's far-fetched to think they can earn a fourth straight postseason berth.
The Cowboys can stretch their winning streak to four Sunday but will probably be wary of a visiting Saints team led by Drew Brees that has won the last three road matchups in this series.
Dallas (8-6) rallied for a 27-24 overtime victory over Pittsburgh last Sunday, moving into a tie with Washington and the Giants for the lead in the East. The Cowboys will win the division by capturing their final two games.
Jones likes the momentum his team has built, comparing it to how the Giants got hot late last season en route to winning the Super Bowl.
"You can legitimately look at how the Giants played last year, what they did at the end of the year and how they took it all the way," Jones said. "And that's not unrealistic to think that that can happen to you."
Dallas has trailed in the fourth quarter of every game in this win streak, but clutch play by Tony Romo down the stretch along with the return of running back DeMarco Murray has helped make the difference.
"You never know how you're going to handle situations when you're dealt with adversity like we had last week," tight end Jason Witten said. "Everyone handled it professionally."
The Cowboys are 3-3 without Murray, who has scored a touchdown in each game of this run since coming back from with a foot injury. Murray missed practice Wednesday but expects to play versus the Saints.
New Orleans (6-8) needs to win its two remaining games and have eight other results over the last two weeks go its way to gain a wild-card spot. The Saints know that is unlikely.
"I guess we are all but eliminated, we still have a lot to play for to because of the type of guys we have and the way we want to finish this season and our mindset towards building the foundation right now for what we're going to able to accomplish in the future," Brees said.
Brees leads the NFL in touchdown passes (36) and passing yards, needing 665 yards for a third career campaign with 5,000. The Austin native had won both previous visits to Dallas, throwing for 736 yards, six touchdowns and one interception.
Brees threw for 307 yards and four scores with no picks last Sunday in a 41-0 home win over Tampa Bay.
"When I look at his commitment to us, our commitment to him, I'm proud that he's on that field because you could see that he's been one of the difference makers out there," said Jones about Carr.
Rookie cornerback Morris Claiborne sat out against Pittsburgh with a concussion, but the former LSU star and Louisiana native expects to return this week.
Dallas receiver Dez Bryant, who fractured his finger two weeks ago in a win at Cincinnati, played through the pain and extended his streak of games with a TD reception to six with a 24-yard score against the Steelers. His 10 touchdown receptions tie him for third in the NFL.
"He certainly is playing with some risks, but he was inspirational out there to everybody involved in the organization," Jones said. "He meant it because we were still playing for all the marbles, and he wanted to give everything he could."
Romo has thrown for 912 yards with six touchdowns and one interception during this win streak. He's fourth in the league in completion percentage at 66.7.
"They are doing what they do best and they are executing," Saints interim coach Joe Vitt said. "Romo is getting a great pre-snap read, he's going the right place with the ball."
The Cowboys should be eager to attack a Saints defense that is ranked last in the league, allowing 446.2 yards per game. It could be good news for Witten, who needs six receptions to pass Tony Gonzalez's record of 102 in 2004 for the most in a season by a tight end.
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• Attack middle when going deep: The Cowboys have been inconsistent in pass defense this year, specifically down the middle of their secondary. With all the weapons Drew Brees has available out wide, he will want to use a lot of different personnel packages and formations to isolate his receivers on post and crossing routes that challenge the Cowboys' safeties in deep coverage.
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|Avg Points Allowed||27.3||24.8|
Team Averages & NFL Ranks
|TEAM OFFENSE||TEAM||PER GAME AVERAGE|
|TEAM DEFENSE||TEAM||PER GAME AVERAGE|
|Pass Yds Allowed||NO|
|Rush Yds Allowed||NO|
Head to Head Matchups (Since 2001)
|New Orleans leads 5-1|
|Nov 25, 2010||NO 30, @DAL 27|
|Dec 19, 2009||NO 17, DAL 24|
|Dec 10, 2006||NO 42, @DAL 17|
|Dec 12, 2004||NO 27, @DAL 13|
|Dec 28, 2003||NO 13, DAL 7|
The Cowboys have been more likely to run with DeMarco Murray on field this season, and it has helped open up the play-action passing game. Tony Romo has gone 15-of-21 with four touchdowns on such plays since Murray's return from injury in Week 13.[+]
Tony Romo Play-Action Passing - This Season
ESPN Stats & Information