Originally posted on Football Nation  |  Last updated 11/11/13
Welcome to the mediocre NFC East! It's a wide-open field for the divisional crown, even the surging New York Giants are in contention at 3-6.The Dallas Cowboys have been dreadfully inconsistent all season, but they still share a lead at top with the Philadelphia Eagles at 5-5 after being dismantled by the New Orleans Saints 49-17 on Sunday night.The sediment is the same after each defeat that the Cowboys have too much talent on the roster for these dismal results. Here are five things we learned from the Cowboys/Saints game:The Reemergence of the Saints' Running GameA lack of a running game has been the one aspect missing from the Saints becoming the leading NFC candidate to play in the Super Bowl this season. Collectivity, the offensive line and the running backs haven't shown any cohesiveness on the football field. They heard the criticism, and aimed to make amends against a depleted Cowboys defense last night. Running back Mark Ingram jump started the ground attack, as he was finally ready to make a contribution after battling a lingering toe injury all year. Pierre Thomas and Ingram can become an effective duo that helps the Saints get more into rhythm running the football.The Superdome is a Definite AdvantageWhen the atmosphere is just right inside the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, no one can stop the New Orleans Saints. It's imperative for them to gain homefield advantage all throughout the NFC Playoffs, as there's no louder stadium in the league right now. It's virtually impossible for visiting teams to communicate with the sidelines, and often they resort to hand signals to implement plays. The noise level inside the Superdome wrecks opponents continuity offensively and defensively. Teams cannot simulate this type of crowd noise in their preparation prior to playing a road game against New Orleans. Oh Ware are You?To defeat the Saints, the Cowboys needed to establish a pass rush without the aid of a blitz package. This was a tall order for defensive end DeMarcus Ware in his first game back from a leg injury. It was too much to ask of him. Cowboys defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin disguised his blitz schemes by dropping the middle linebacker into pass coverage to hopefully create some confusion, but Saints quarterback Drew Brees is lethal when attacking the weakside of a defense.Let's not forget that starting cornerback Morris Claiborne and safety J.J. Wilcox didn't play due to injuries, which makes the Cowboys secondary very vulnerable to the passing proficiency of Brees. The Cowboys are a One-Dimensional TeamIf the Cowboys are going to win the NFC East, then they must utilize running back DeMarco Murray correctly in their offense. The Saints give up close to 5 yards per carry, as the Cowboys needed to establish their running game to control time of possession and keep the Saints high-powered pass attack off the field. If quarterback Tony Romo is going to become a more consistent passer than the coaches cannot allow the offense to become one-dimensional after trailing early in contests. Are the coaching staff abandoning the running game because they're not firmly convinced that Murray can handle the hefty load of being a premier running back. Sean Payton is OverratedSean Payton is a very good head coach, but he's not a genius. Payton let his stubbornness get the best of him at times before making the necessary adjustments in close games. The Saints are unstoppable at home, but very beatable on the road.Why?The front seven has been physical enough at the line of scrimmage all season. A tough, aggressive defense wins you a championship, but that has been absent in New Orleans since the memorable 2009 Super Bowl season. Yes, you can change the culture by hiring new defensive coordinators; it only works if you let them coach. Don't let wins against weak opponents on the schedule cloud your judgement of coaching the entire roster. 
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