The Dallas Cowboys haven't run the ball very well or stopped teams from running the ball this year, and they'll be without the quarterback of the league's fifth-ranked pass-offense, but the Cowboys have the premium pass-rusher in the game and that's a cause for great concern for the Jaguars.
"We'll have our hands full dealing with DeMarcus Ware," Jaguars Head Coach Jack Del Rio said of the Cowboys pass-rusher. Ware is tied for the league lead in sacks with eight. "I think he's one of the elite pass-rushers in the league and a definite threat. He doesn't just get back there, he takes the ball off you."
Quarterback David Garrard will be making his return from a concussion that forced him to miss last Sunday's game in Kansas City. Garrard would greatly benefit from strong pass-protection in Dallas on Sunday, otherwise, Ware could make it another long day for the Jaguars.
"I'm still going to be David Garrard. I'm going to play the way that I play. I can't alter my game. I don't know how I would alter it. I'm going to be as physical as I still can but also be smart, too," Garrard said this week.
Dallas, 1-5 and clearly the biggest disappointment in the league this year, is 21st against the run; the Jaguars are 10th in rushing. Look for the Jaguars to run the ball early and often, but the degree to which they can remain committed to the run will depend on their defense's ability to keep the game close.
The Jaguars defense will be aided by the loss of star Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo, who sustained a broken collarbone in the loss to the Giants on Monday night. Veteran journeyman Jon Kitna will replace Romo at quarterback.
"We're a defense that's giving up big plays. That's our identity," Jaguars defensive end Aaron Kampman said.
In the team's 42-20 loss in Kansas City, the Jaguars allowed a 70-yard run by Thomas Jones and a 53-yard catch-and-run touchdown by Dwayne Bowe. The Cowboys have a big-play receiver and punt-returner in rookie Dez Bryant.
"It's human nature to be frustrated. When you get knocked down, how do you respond? You're only a failure if you don't get up. From what I saw, guys are getting back up," Kampman added.
Morale is an issue this week for a team that set its goal this season for winning a division title. At 3-4, it has fallen two-and-a-half games behind division-leading Tennessee.
"We're not out of it," running back Maurice Jones-Drew said.
This would certainly, however, have to be considered a must-win game. The Cowboys may even be beyond the point of desperation.
"They're going to play like a team that has to have a win, like we have to have a win. This is a game that can get us back going in the right direction," guard Uche Nwaneri said.
"We can't turn the ball over. That has to be number one, and we have to be consistent as a team and getting off the field on third down on defense," he added.
Most of all, for the Jaguars' sake and for the quarterback's, too, they better find a way to block Ware.