The Atlanta Falcons have plenty of challenges on Sunday night against the Dallas Cowboys.
Some of them are concrete, like stopping a potentially prolific passing attack for the Cowboys. Others are less concrete, like being under the lights of Sunday Night Football. Quite frankly, I don't think the latter matches all that much. But I digress.
The one challenge I'm particularly worried about, however, is keeping DeMarcus Ware away from Matt Ryan.
Ware is one of the league's premier pass rushers. He's big, he's brutal and he's fast, and he has 7.5 sacks this season. He's the kind of guy that can destroy even a quality offensive line, putting him in the same company as guys like Jared Allen and our own John Abraham.
It's arguably the toughest matchup of the year for Sam Baker, who has enjoyed a renaissance season with his reasonably healthy back and an off-season of hard work under his belt. To effectively stop Ware, the line will have to be great, and Baker in particular will have to prove that he's up to the task of slowing Ware down.
The stakes here are, as usual, considerable. Ryan has endured most of his worst stretches of the season when under significant pressure, and given the utter uselessness of the ground game for much of the year, every dropback where Ware is inches away from killing the team's franchise quarterback is a play waiting to go wrong.
I said this all the time last year and I'll dust it off: The Falcons should give Ryan some help. If they can afford to keep a
human sacrifice fullback or running back in to at least slow Ware down on passing downs, they should absolutely do it. Don't let the guy get killed.
How do you think Sam Baker will fare against Ware?