Trust in Tony in Texas

  • By: David John (Twitter: @SLifeDaveJohn)
  • Last Updated: December 15 2013, 8:17 GMT

David John thinks Tony Romo can enjoy a decent night for Dallas when they host Green Bay in the NFL on Sunday.

Tony Romo: Can get his passing game back on track
Tony Romo: Can get his passing game back on track

New England at Miami (1800GMT)

Bill Belichick and Tom Brady may not be the most popular head coach/quarterback combo in the league but you have to admire there resilience at the New England Patriots.

24-0 down at home to Denver. No problem. 13-0 down at home to Cleveland. No problem.

Two unlikely recent wins were chalked up and they now stand on the verge of an extraordinary 11th AFC East divisional title since 2001. Equally as important, Denver's surprise defeat on Thursday night means they could also put themselves in pole position for top seeding in the conference.

There is little doubt the talent pool around Brady is not as elevated as years gone by and it took a further devastating knock against the Browns with tight end Rob Gronkowski suffering a torn ACL.

But the Pats remain perhaps the best in the business when it comes to winning games.

"Preparation makes up for a lot of the stuff. We are so detailed around here," said cornerback Aqib Talib as players head out on to the field with Belichick's mantra of "do you job" ringing in their ears.

They will have spent this week scheming for an improving Miami team who is itself still in the play-off hunt having won back-to-back games.

The penny seems to be dropping for second-year quarterback Ryan Tannehill and the Dolphins steady improvement has in part been down to him.

Historically this has not been a great fixture for the hosts as New England have won seven straight and 14 of the last 19 in the past decade. Head coach Joe Philbin has yet to beat them.

That said, Miami have had a habit of springing a surprise and will certainly not be keen to see their rivals clinch the division in Florida.

They were competitive for a half when the pair met at Foxboro at the end of October and the layers don't see much between them for the rematch with the visitors giving up no more than a point on the spread.

There are a couple of angles I quite like here. Firstly is a touchdown anytime for Miami tight end Charles Clay, who is on course to set a regular-season record for them in terms of catches and yards at the position.

He has 14 receptions for 177 over the past two games with two scores in the win over Pittsburgh and is worth backing at 5/4 to find the end zone once more at some point in proceedings.

Secondly, I think that the two quarterbacks could be under some pressure so take the 5/4 on more than 6.5 sacks.

Tannehill has been flattened a league-high 48 times behind a dubious offensive line and could well be pursued all afternoon by November's AFC player of the month Chandler Jones, who has 10.5 sacks to his name so far.

Equally, Miami have two monster pass-rushers of their own in Cameron Wake and Olivier Vernon who will have every intention of making life difficult for Brady behind a similarly patchwork line.

Verdict: New England 22 Miami 20

Green Bay at Dallas (2125)

This is not an easy game to call with any great confidence considering both possess a number of flaws that the other can exploit. It may well come down to which one commits the least amount of errors.

The most glaring weakness are the respective defenses.

The Packers rank 21st overall in the NFL in Total Defense (21st in passing, 25th against the run) and while they have been guilty in past seasons of giving up yards to the opposition, they have been able to make game-changing plays at important moments.

But this year they have managed to come up with just seven interceptions and that leaves them floundering in a tie for second last in that particular category.

But if Green Bay's statistics make for pretty gloomy reading, look away now if you are a Dallas fan. They are plum last overall defensively among the 32 teams and have allowed on average over 426 yards per game.

They delivered another abject display in the loss at Chicago last week as second-string quarterback Josh McCown marched the Bears up and down the field like some sort of Joe Montana.

The worrying aspect for the Cowboys was allowing themselves to be outplayed with so many missed tackles while by some distance their best player, Sean Lee, aggravated a neck injury in the frigid conditions and will not suit up this Sunday.

But can you trust them to address any of these issues significantly? Equally, will Aaron Rodgers' back-up Matt Flynn be able to do enough on Green Bay's offense to get competitive?

So in a game of so many imponderables, the match-up I do like is Tony Romo against the Packers defense.

It is usually Romo who shoulders the blame for most of the woes in Texas and his level of productivity has certainly dipped in the second half of the season since that monster - if ultimately fruitless - display against Denver.

I get the impression he has been less keen to chance his arm in a bid to avoid the mistakes but we are at the time of the season when Dallas will surely need three wins from three to close out to have a chance of making the play-offs.

Romo has not passed for more than 300 yards since the Minnesota game in week nine but he still has an enviable array of targets like Dez Bryant, Terrance Williams and Jason Witten to tantalize any secondary.

With the defense currently shambling around, the fate of the Cowboys this season is likely to rest with Romo's arm and I just get the impression he could revert to type this weekend and take on a big play or two.

There could be the odd errant throw or dropped ball in amongst things but I hold out enough optimism that he can throw for over 270.5 yards in the game back on home turf.

Verdict: Green Bay 22 Dallas 30

More week 15 verdicts:

Buffalo 16 Jacksonville 14

Chicago 22 Cleveland 17

Houston 23 Indianapolis 27

Philadelphia 30 Minnesota 16

San Francisco 20 Tampa Bay 17

Seattle 24 NY Giants 14

Washington 17 Atlanta 21

Kansas City 24 Oakland 19

NY Jets 10 Carolina 24

Arizona 22 Tennessee 17

New Orleans 27 St Louis 17

Cincinnati 18 Pittsburgh 14

Baltimore 20 Detroit 24


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