Two of the NFL’s best quarterbacks are set to face off in primetime in Week 10. Tony Romo and the Dallas Cowboys will visit Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints on "Sunday Night Football."
As expected, Brees is putting up terrific numbers. His 2,672 passing yards are second in the league only to Peyton Manning. He’s also No.2 with 21 touchdown passes. Romo, however, has received a lot of criticism over the past few years, but might be playing as well as any signal caller in the NFC. The Cowboys quarterback has thrown one less touchdown and one less interception (6) than Brees. He ranks in the top five in completion percentage and passer rating.
"He's having the best year of his career this season," Saints head coach Sean Payton said. "He's been very good in regards to his decision making. He knows pre-snap where he wants to go. He's got a very quick way of getting through his progressions and the ball comes out extremely fast."
Payton coached Romo with Dallas in 2005, the year before he became the full-time starter. Since then, Romo has come under fire for not being able to lead the Cowboys to much success. However, Dallas may be on their way to returning to the playoffs for the first time in four seasons. They only have a 5-4 record, but the NFC East has been the worst division in football. The Eagles, Redskins and Giants are all under .500.
While Payton hasn’t been with Dallas for almost a decade, Rob Ryan coached the Cowboys just last year. The defensive coordinator was fired in the offseason and hired at the same position in New Orleans. Through the first half of 2013, Ryan has been able to redeem himself after coaching a Dallas defense that underachieved. The Saints, who aren’t usually known for stopping their opponents, have morphed into an upper echelon defensive unit. Only four teams allow fewer than their 18.3 points per game.
"Anybody who has followed me, we were No. 3 in the league for 10 weeks of the season (in 2012) until every single player on the team was hurt and then I got fired," Ryan said this week, according to ESPN.com's Mike Triplett. "I think you get humbled when you're fired and you're not fired with the entire staff. I think that has a way of humbling you and a way of pissing you off. And I've got a lot to prove."
The Saints are coming off a surprising loss, falling 26-20 to the New York Jets. On Sunday, though, they’ll play at home, where they are a much different team. The Saints have covered the point spread in every home game this season, and they were a perfect 8-0 at home in 2011, Payton’s last full season with the club. He was suspended for all of 2012 because of the Bountygate scandal
The Cowboys barely got by the Minnesota Vikings in Week Nine, who entered the contest with one win. A Romo touchdown pass in the final minutes was the deciding factor in the victory.
Las Vegas Betting Odds: New Orleans favored by 6.5 points
Over-Under: 54 points
Kickoff Time: 8:30 PM Eastern Time
TV Channel: NBC
Online Stream: NBC Sports Live Extra
Prediction: New Orleans 34, Dallas 24