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Game Notes

5 Key Matchups for Dallas Cowboys at Denver Broncos

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One week down and the Dallas Cowboys head into week two with a perfect 1-0 record. That's something that is so sweet to type out after eight long months with no Dallas Cowboys football. But as Jason Garrett likes to say, "the past is the past, we are looking ahead to Denver." We all must move on and prepare for the 1-0 Denver Broncos.

Von Miller vs La'el Collins

La'el Collins' first start at right tackle in a Dallas Cowboys uniform couldn't have gone much better for the third-year mauler out of LSU. Collins had a tough matchup against one of the best 4-3 defensive ends in the NFL. In Sunday night's game against New York, La'el didn't allow a sack and was a force against the run as well.

Brandon Thorn on Twitter

La'El Collins making JPP pay for attempting to rush inside. #Cowboys https://t.co/CMuAQr09zm

This Sunday, Mr. Collins has an even tougher matchup. Standing across from La'el this Sunday will be one of the league's best 3-4 pass rushers, Von Miller.

In 2016, Miller finished his Pro Bowl season with 13.5 sacks and three forced fumbles. The Broncos' pass rusher will move around and rush from both sides, but will likely line up over Collins for a majority of his snaps.

La'el Collins versus Von Miller will certainly be a matchup I keep a close eye on Sunday.

DeMarcus Lawrence vs Menelik Watson

The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly For Cowboys Against Giants 1

DeMarcus Lawrence had a fantastic start to the 2017 season after registering five total tackles--three of them for a loss--and two sacks in the home opener to the Giants. Lawrence has another good matchup Sunday against veteran Menelik Watson.

After watching the film from Denver's Monday night game, the one thing that stood out was how much Watson struggled against Chargers' pass rusher, Melvin Ingram.

The Broncos' starting right tackle struggled against speed, power, and played with very bad technique against Ingram. Lawrence played with great speed, power, and technique against Bobby Hart last week.

Lawrence is slated to have another big game this Sunday, adding to his already impressive start to the season.

Dez Bryant vs Aqib Talib

Cowboys Headlines - With Quiet Debut, Dez Bryant Must be the Reason the Cowboys Forget About 2015 1

Dez Bryant wasn't perfect in week one against Janoris Jenkins, but he definitely made an impact in the game.

Dez finished the night with only two catches for 43 yards, but drew a long defensive pass interference penalty that set the offense up with great field position.

Bryant has another tough matchup this week against Aqib Talib.

Talib, a veteran in the league, is still one of the best outside corners in the NFL. One thing Aqib Talib does very well is get in the opposing wide receiver's head early in the game. Bryant must keep his composure and not try to be a hero.

I expect Dez Bryant to have a much bigger game in Denver, and with a lesser role.

Cowboys Corners vs Broncos Receivers

The Dallas secondary was absolutely fantastic against the New York Giants, but the matchup gets much tougher this weekend in Denver.

Nolan Carroll and Anthony Brown had very nice games manning their sides of the field in week one, but both corners have another tough matchup this week with Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders across the line of scrimmage.

A key player in the Dallas secondary this week will be rookie Chidobe Awuzie.

Chido had a very strong first game and is looking to build off that in his second career NFL game. Awuzie will likely play both in base and nickel defenses and have cover duties on all of the Broncos' receivers.

The 2017 second round pick will not be asked to lock down Demaryius Thomas, but he will be asked to keep his side of the field free of big plays.

Pro Football Focus on Twitter

Top graded rookie CBs from week 1

Cowboys Run Defense vs Broncos Running Game

Jaylon Smith, Charles Tapper Building On 2016 Draft Success

The Dallas Cowboys run defense held the Giants running backs to just 35 yards in week one, but has a much tougher matchup against Denver this Sunday.

C.J. Anderson finished Monday night's game with 81 yards on 20 carries. Along with Anderson's impressive night, Jamaal Charles looked like his old self in his first game as a Bronco.

Charles finished the night with 40 yards on 10 carries. The Cowboys will need Jaylon Smith and Sean Lee to have another big game at the linebacker spot, and Maliek Collins and Stephen Paea at the defensive tackle spot.

One big factor in this game is former Cowboy, now Bronco, Ronald Leary. Cowboys Nation is very familiar with Leary and how good of a run blocker he is. Unfortunately, Leary is in the league's concussion protocol and looks like a long shot to play in Sunday's game.

If Ron Leary is inactive for the game, that is a huge advantage for the Cowboys defensive line, in both the running game and passing game.

Summary

3 Things We Learned From The Cowboys Victory Over The Giants 2

The Cowboys certainly do not want this game to be an air-battle between Dak Prescott and Trevor Siemian. Instead, Dallas should look to take advantage of playing against a 3-4 defense and run the ball hard at Denver's smaller outside linebackers.

The Cowboys defense looks to keep up the good work and put up another dominant performance against an offense that had no issues moving the football in their week one victory. The Cowboys secondary will be a man down with Orlando Scandrick likely missing the game due to a fracture in his hand, but look for Jourdan Lewis or Bene' Benwikere to step up and fill his role without any problems.



Born in 1995, loved Football but more importantly the Dallas Cowboys since day one. Living in Redskins Country flying the Blue and Silver flag as high as possible. Covering the Dallas Cowboys for InsideTheStar.com and CowboysNation.com. Catch me on twitter @ConnorNFLDraft!

Game Notes

Cowboys, Redskins Week 7 Injury Report

Jess Haynie

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Cowboys, Redskins Week 7 Injury Report
Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Though it's still early in the 2018 season, the lead in the NFC East is up for grabs when the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins meet this Sunday. Both teams would like their full roster available for the game, but the Week 7 injury reports indicate that won't be the case.

Here are the players either confirmed to be out of action tomorrow or are otherwise listed by Dallas and Washington:

Dallas Cowboys

  • WR Tavon Austin (groin) - OUT
  • LB Joe Thomas (foot) - OUT
  • CB Chidobe Awuzie (ankle) - Questionable

The Cowboys are getting healthier, with Sean Lee finally off the injury report and set to return to action. Not only will Dallas get their elite linebacker back, but it means a deeper rotation while the team remains without Joe Thomas.

Tavon Austin elected to skip season-ending surgery on his injured groin, but his should be out a few weeks. That will put Cole Beasley on punt returns and perhaps create more offensive opportunities for Deonte Thompson and Brice Butler.

Awuzie remains limited in practice but has played the last few weeks despite the ankle injury. There is no reason to think he won't suit up in Washington.

Washington Redskins

  • WR Jamison Crowder (ankle) - OUT
  • WR Paul Richardson (shoulder, knee) - Doubtful
  • S Troy Apke (hamstring) - Doubtful
  • RB Adrian Peterson (ankle, shoulder) - Questionable
  • RB Chris Thompson (rib, knee) - Questionable
  • G Shawn Lauvao (calf) - Questionable
  • CB Quinton Dunbar (shin) - Questionable
  • CB Danny Johnson (forearm) - Questionable

It's a rough time for Washington's offensive weapons. They will definitely be without slot receiver Jamison Crowder and likely starter Paul Richardson, who current lead all WRs in receptions. Josh Doctson will put into a major role, as will veteran Brian Quick off the bench.

Peterson and Thompson both practiced this week and should play, but have nagging injuries that could slow them down. Washington is already missing Rob Kelley and rookie Derrius Guice, who are both on injured reserve.

Starting left guard Shawn Lauvao is also nursing a lower leg injury, but practiced in a limited capacity all week. His backup is undrafted rookie Casey Dunn out of Auburn.

In the defensive backfield, starting CB Quinton Dunbar was a Friday addition to the injury report with a shin injury. He did practice with it, though, so will likely play. Backup safety Troy Apke is doubtful with a hamstring issue.



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Game Notes

Cowboys Focused on Improved Communication to Solve Road Woes at Redskins

Sean Martin

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Cowboys Focused on Improved Communication to Solve Road Woes at Redskins

The Dallas Cowboys are 0-3 on the road this season. Not only do you already know this, but they do as well, needing to build off a 40-7 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars in week 6 at AT&T Stadium to claim first place in the NFC East at the Washington Redskins.

Although the Cowboys were given Monday and Tuesday off, they are focused on addressing one alarming reason why the team has struggled so much on the road -- particularly on offense.

Running Back Ezekiel Elliott pointed out the Cowboys lack of communication in early season losses at Carolina, Seattle, and Houston. "Seeing the same thing," was the issue Elliott addressed when discussing the Cowboys knowing their assignments in hostile territory.

Yesterday, Quarterback Dak Prescott told the media of a meeting between players and coaches that addressed this specifically.

David Moore on Twitter

Dak Prescott said players & coaches held a meeting before today's practice to "address the elephant in the room," which is poor communication among the offense on the road. "I know we'll take a lot from that conversation," The QB said.

Unlike Prescott's remarks about new "wrinkles" in the Cowboys offense prior to a 26-24 home win over the Lions, this has a tangible sign of progress for an offense that made scoring 40 on the Jaguars look impossibly easy. The Cowboys season high in total yards remains the 414 amassed against Detroit, after which Prescott confessed that he simply tells the media "things" that aren't necessarily true.

The Cowboys didn't necessarily do anything new against the Lions, but they most assuredly will this week against the Redskins, at least by way of signaling and remaining in sync on offense.

Prescott and Elliott's leadership is on full display here, and their on-field impact can be attributed as closely to the Cowboys successes or failures as any duo in the NFL.

Missing is a similar impact from Center Travis Frederick, who remains sidelined as he deals with GSB.

Joe Looney's play at center has been good enough to pave the way for Elliott's 586 rushing yards so far, second to Todd Gurley at 623 yards, but his ability to call checks for the offense is understandably much more limited.

Looney deserves all the credit in the world for his strong play in place of Frederick. The Cowboys have never asked for him to be anything he isn't, a reliable depth option that earned a second contract and with it the starting center job for the time being in Dallas.

He has the full support of his teammates, Frederick included. All of this is lovely to put down in writing until Looney and the Cowboys have been forced to step on the field with the crowd against them and attempt to sustain a drive, something Frederick will unfortunately not be a part of for a long while.

If the Cowboys offense isn't going to unveil new wrinkles in the scheme, there is one wrinkle worth mentioning that's new to the team's communication on offense this season. With Offensive Coordinator Scott Linehan up in the box, his play calls are sent down to first-year Quarterback Coach Kellen Moore, who has been in the ear of Prescott ever since playing with him from 2016-17.

Sure, these are things that could've been addressed before the Cowboys managed only eight points in week one, turned the ball over three times in week three, or punted away their best chance at victory in week five. The best teams in the league likely already have these things down to routine, and few would consider the Cowboys anywhere near the upper echelon of the NFL.

Following sixty minutes of football at a division rival they've won four in a row against, with an even more impressive five game win streak at the Redskins, the Cowboys could control their own path atop the NFC East.

That feels truly incredible for such a young team faced with a steep learning curve early in the season, adjusting to it on the fly as they prepare to leave everything on the field before a bye week.

Tell us what you think about "Cowboys Focused on Improved Communication to Solve Road Woes at Redskins" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!



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Game Notes

#WASvsDAL: Why This Game Holds Increased Importance

Kevin Brady

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Cowboys Pass Rush Better than They're Given Credit For
James D. Smith/Dallas Cowboys

It feels incredibly cliche to call the week 7 match-up between the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins a "must win." Especially for someone like me who values statistics, logic, and analytics in sports.

But when the analytics agree with the narratives, those narratives do tend to get my attention. And this week that would appear to be the case.

According to Brian Burke of ESPN, the Cowboys's week 7 game has the highest playoff probability leverage in the entire NFC, and is second to only the Houston Texans' big game with Jacksonville around the entire league.

Brian Burke on Twitter

Playoff leverage for week 7. DAL, WAS, PHI, CAR, MIN, CHI with a lot on the line in the NFC. HOU, CIN, and JAX in the AFC.

What does this mean? Well playoff probability leverage is pretty intuitive. Basically it is the difference between a win this week and a loss this week in terms of probability to make the playoffs.

For the Cowboys that number is at 27%, with a win over Washington catapulting their playoff probability over 50%. On the other hand, a loss would take a big hit to their playoff hopes just 7 games into the NFL season.

As you might expect, this game means a lot to the Redskins' playoff probability as well. Their playoff leverage this week is at 14%, but a win would mean "more" to Dallas than Washington based on the probabilities.

Fellow NFC East foe, the Philadelphia Eagles, also have a lot to gain/lose this Sunday, with their leverage sitting at 22%. According to Burke's model, the Eagles and Cowboys have the best chances of making the playoffs at this point, but if each team wins Sunday the Eagles will still have a higher percentage.

Of course a lot can and will change week to week, despite what the metrics say. The Cowboys still have two games remaining with the NFC East favorite Eagles this year, and will get another crack at Washington at home later in the season. Plus the Cowboys have a few NFC wild card and playoff contenders remaining on their schedule, such as the New Orleans Saints and Atlanta Falcons. (Yes, the 2-4 Falcons are very much alive in this crazy conference).

Still, the difference between 4-3 (2-0 in the division) and 3-4 (1-1 in the division) is huge, as is shown by Brian Burke's playoff probability leverage metric.



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