Banged Up Boys

St. Louis, MO - The Dallas Cowboys lost for the second time in three games last Sunday in an overtime thriller. That was only the beginning of their chaotic week.

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After losing their quarterback to injury, seeing a starting cornerback suspended, and trying to counter those losses with a blockbuster trade, the Cowboys look to bounce back from a disheartening defeat as they visit the St. Louis Rams on Sunday.

Oddsmakers from SBG Global have made Dallas –6.5 point spread favorites (View NFL Football odds) for Sunday’s game (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 54% of bets for this game have been placed on Dallas –6.5 (View NFL Football bet percentages).

Dallas (4-2) entered the season as one of the favorites to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl, and opened 3-0, but the team now appears in disarray after its 30-24 overtime loss at Arizona last Sunday.

Tony Romo was 24-for-38 for 321 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions, but broke his right pinkie on the first play of overtime and could be sidelined for a month. Cowboys coach Wade Phillips said the two-time Pro Bowl quarterback won't need surgery, and the timing of his return "depends on how fast that heals." The Cowboys have three games before an open date Nov. 9.

Romo wasn't in the locker room Monday when it was open to reporters, but teammates weighed in on the state of the Cowboys.

"Am I optimistic that we can win without Tony? Yes, truly I am," linebacker Greg Ellis said. "I'm just disappointed in this organization right now, from the whole deal of it. Things just aren't going really good."

Ellis' comment came before troubled cornerback Adam "Pacman" Jones was suspended Tuesday for a minimum of four games for again violating the league personal conduct policy. Only six weeks after being reinstated from a 17-month suspension and missing the entire 2007 season for the Tennessee Titans because of repeated legal troubles, Jones was involved in an alcohol-related scuffle Oct. 7 with one of his bodyguards at a private party in Dallas.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell will determine the full length of the suspension after the Cowboys play Nov. 16 at NFC East rival Washington. The commissioner said a lifetime ban remains a possibility.

The Cowboys tried to negate some of this week's bad news by acquiring receiver Roy Williams from Detroit on Tuesday.

"I'm more happy to be a Dallas Cowboy than when I got my first bike," said Williams, an Odessa, Texas, native who starred at the University of Texas before becoming the seventh overall pick in the 2004 draft.

Williams' best season was 2006, when he went to the Pro Bowl after catching 82 passes for 1,310 yards and seven touchdowns. He has 17 catches for 232 yards and a score this season, increasing his career totals to 262 receptions, 3,884 yards and 29 TDs.

Williams will line up opposite Terrell Owens, giving Dallas a pair of tall, athletic receivers that could open up the field for new starting quarterback Brad Johnson.

"We got two guys out there that can really run," Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said. "They're big, but as you know, both of them can really make spectacular catches."

Johnson, a 40-year-old in his 17th season, will be making his first start Sunday since Dec. 17, 2006, while with Minnesota.

"When I came here, I wanted to be a part of a great team and a team that works hard and has a chance to win. ... I knew the circumstances," he said. "Obviously, it's unfortunate for Tony to have to go through something like this. ... At this time, it's really just important for the offense especially to just kind of catch on to my snap count and the way we manage the huddle. ... I'm excited about the opportunity, worked hard to get here."

Johnson's opportunity comes against a St. Louis team that was winless before upsetting another NFC East contender last Sunday. In their first game under new coach Jim Haslett, the Rams (1-4) got a 49-yard field goal from Josh Brown on the last play to give them a 19-17 victory over Washington.

"I'm kind of, like, blank. I don't know if I want to cry or laugh," Rams linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa said. "A lot of emotions hit me at once. It's different, but a good different.

"I'm sitting there waiting for someone to blow a whistle or challenge the play or something like that to happen because that's how our year's been. But I think this kind of signifies the tides are changing."

That would be good news heading into this meeting with the Cowboys, against whom the Rams have dropped three straight home games since a 29-10 victory on Dec. 7, 1986, when the team was based in Los Angeles. St. Louis was outgained 502-187 in a 35-7 loss in Dallas on Sept. 30 of last season.

In addition to Romo and Jones, the Cowboys will also be without punter Mat McBriar. The 2006 Pro Bowler was put on injured reserve Tuesday, ending his season two days after he sustained a broken foot on the last play of Sunday's defeat. McBriar had to be carted off the field after his punt was blocked by the Cardinals and recovered in the end zone for the game-winning touchdown.

The Cowboys signed Sam Paulescu, who appeared in one game for Denver last season, to replace McBriar.

Top Betting Trends:
All games in this series since 1992
ST LOUIS is 2-2 against the spread versus DALLAS since 1992
ST LOUIS is 2-2 straight up against DALLAS since 1992
3 of 4 games in this series have gone UNDER THE TOTAL since 1992
Games over the last 3 seasons
DALLAS is 1-0 against the spread versus ST LOUIS over the last 3 seasons 
DALLAS is 1-0 straight up against ST LOUIS over the last 3 seasons 
1 of 1 games in this series have gone UNDER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons
All games played at ST LOUIS since 1992
DALLAS is 1-0 against the spread versus ST LOUIS since 1992
DALLAS is 1-0 straight up against ST LOUIS since 1992
1 of 1 games in this series have gone UNDER THE TOTAL since 1992
Key Player Injuries
[S] Pat Watkins missed last game %27?%27 - Shoulder - 10/05/08
[G] Kyle Kosier expected to miss - Foot - 10/06/08
[CB] Terence Newman is downgraded to expected to miss - Groin - 10/08/08
[SS] Roy Williams is downgraded to expected to miss - Forearm - 10/06/08
[WR] Dane Looker is downgraded to doubtful - Concussion - 10/08/08
[QB] Marc Bulger has been named starting quarterback - None - 09/30/08
[WR] Drew Bennett expected to miss up to six weeks - Foot - 09/08/08
[CB] Tye Hill expected to miss at least 4 weeks - Knee - 09/30/08
[RB] Antonio Pittman is downgraded to expected to miss 4-6 weeks - Leg - 09/22/08
[OL] Mark Setterstrom IR - Knee - 08/17/08
[OT] Brandon Gorin IR - Shoulder - 08/18/08
[TE] Randy McMichael IR - Ankle - 10/06/08
[LB] Will Witherspoon injured last game, "?" - Shoulder - 09/30/08
[CB] Justin King IR - Toe - 08/16/08
[HC] Scott Linehan has been fired, DC Jim Haslett has been named interim coach - None - 09/29/08

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Posted: 10/15/08 3:06

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