After back-to-back demoralizing defeats, the Dallas Cowboys are looking to get back on track today against the Los Angeles Chargers. Make no mistake, this is probably a must win game for the Cowboys if they want to keep their playoff hopes alive this season. But, don’t expect the Chargers to rollover and hand the Cowboys the victory.
I believe this will be a hard-fought game by both teams, because each organization is basically in the same situation. The Cowboys, like the Chargers, are still mathematically in the playoff race. But, both teams have to continue to win games and receive a little bit of help around the league in order to earn one of those coveted playoff spots.
Fortunately, I believe this is a game the Dallas Cowboys should and probably will win. Continue reading below to find out the five reasons I believe the Cowboys will be victorious on Thanksgiving against the Chargers.
Dak on Attack
I don’t expect Dak Prescott to sit in the pocket this week and allow the Chargers talented pass rushers to tee off on him. I think both he and the Cowboys coaching staff have had enough of seeing him under direst these last two weeks to allow that to happen.
I fully expect to see Prescott working outside the pocket more today. That means more misdirection plays and bootlegs to help combat the Chargers defense from pinning their ears back on obvious passing downs. Luckily, this is where Prescott is at his best.
I would be extremely surprised if the Dallas Cowboys don’t have Prescott in attack mode later today. They are playing for their playoff lives and have to try and dictate how the game goes from the very beginning.
Heavy Dose of Alfred Morris
Without Ezekiel Elliott in the lineup, Alfred Morris has been the top dog in the Cowboys backfield. Surprisingly enough, he hasn’t looked all that bad these last two games against Atlanta Falcons and Philadelphia Eagles, despite how poorly the Cowboys have played overall.
Alfred Morris is averaging 6.2 yards per carry this season and rushed for 91 yards on just 17 carries last week against a talented Eagles defensive front. The Cowboys will need much more this from Morris against a Chargers defense that is giving up nearly 140 rushing yards a game.
I expect to see a heavy dose of Alfred Morris in the running game in order to win the time of possession and control the tempo. I wouldn’t be surprised if this is Morris’ first 100 yard rushing game with the Dallas Cowboys.
The Return of Tyron Smith
The importance of Tyron Smith returning to the starting lineup can’t be stated enough. We have seen these last two games exactly how important he is to this team, which is why I expect the Cowboys offense to get back on track against the Chargers.
Tyron Smith is arguably the best left tackle in the entire NFL and Dak Prescott couldn’t be happier that he is back protecting his blind side. Prescott should have much more time to find the open receiver in the passing game, hopefully exploiting the Chargers defensive backfield.
Of course, Smith’s return doesn’t just help the passing game. His athleticism is equally important in the running game, which is another reason why I think we will see a heavy dose of Alfred Morris. We just have to hope that he doesn’t suffer any setbacks and not only finishes this game, but the rest of the season healthy.
Pass rush harasses Philip Rivers
One of the most surprising things to happen this season has to be that the Dallas Cowboys have finally found players to get after the opposing quarterback. Even more surprising is that two of their defensive players are sitting atop their respective positions in quarterback sacks.
I’m pretty sure Philip Rivers is fully aware how dominant DeMarcus Lawrence and David Irving have been this season. He will absolutely know where they’re lined up play after play, but that might not make much of a difference.
I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if the Cowboys pass rush harasses Philip Rivers for the majority of the game. Hopefully they can cause him to give up a turnover or two and help get the ball back to the offense. Rivers has after all thrown seven interceptions already this season. Let’s just hope he adds to his INT total on Thanksgiving day.
Ryan Switzer proves value
It took 10 regular-season games, but we finally saw what a confident Ryan Switzer looks like the return game. Despite the Philadelphia Eagles dominating the game last week, Switzer was one of the few bright spots and continuously set the Cowboys offense up in good field position. I expect more of the same today.
The Chargers special teams units have struggled this season, which is why I believe Ryan Switzer will be a difference maker. Like last week, I think he will put the Cowboys offense in good field position once again with good returns and hopefully break one for a touchdown.
I also wouldn’t be surprised if Switzer adds a spark to the offense. Teams have been bracketing Cole Beasley to take him out of the game and Switzer would probably stop that from happening. Giving Dak Prescott another reliable target on short to intermediate routes would help him get back his confidence and be an extension of the running game.