The Dallas Cowboys are on an impressive 11 game winning streak, but in order to continue that winning streak they will have to go on the road and beat the only team that has beaten them this season, the New York Giants.
When these two teams square off against one another you can almost guarantee that it will be a hard-fought game that comes down to the very end. That is exactly what I expect Sunday afternoon.
Fortunately, the Pittsburgh Steelers may have just provided the perfect blueprint for the Cowboys to beat the Giants and expand their lead over the NFC East division.
Now, the Cowboys don't really have much to play for since they have already locked up a spot in the playoffs, but if they want home-field advantage, they need to continue to win games.
Below are the five things I think the Dallas Cowboys could've possibly learned from the matchup between the Pittsburgh Steelers and New York Giants last weekend
Lean on Ezekiel Elliott
Okay, this maybe a little obvious, but if the Dallas Cowboys learned anything watching what the Steelers were able to do on the ground and through the air with Le'Veon Bell, then they would be wise to follow suit with Ezekiel Elliott.
Le'Veon Bell was a huge thorn in the side of the New York Giants defense the entire game. He rushed for 118 yards on the ground and added another 64 yards through the air.
The Cowboys have been somewhat reluctant to use Elliott in the receiving game so far in 2016, but this would be a good game to use that part of his repertoire. He's already had several big plays catching the ball out of the backfield and we all know he is a threat to take it to the house anytime the ball is in his hands.
Now, this may not happen because the Cowboys have more weapons on the offensive side of the ball than the Steelers do. But, any time you give Ezekiel Elliott the opportunity to make a play, good things usually follow.
I fully expect Ezekiel Elliott to have a huge impact on the outcome of the game.
Target the Tight end
The defense for the Giants did a pretty good job of containing Antonio Brown and the rest of the Steelers wide receivers, but failed to remember about the tight end position.
Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Ladarius Green caught six passes for 110 yards and one touchdown against the Giants Sunday afternoon.
Jason Witten might not be as big as a receiving threat as Green at this point in his career, but that doesn't mean he can't find the same type of success. Witten still has a veterans saviness to his game and knows how to get separation from whoever is trying to cover him.
Make Eli Manning uncomfortable
We all know that Eli Manning struggles was when he has pressure in his face and the Pittsburgh Steelers defense was able to do just that.
Now, the Dallas Cowboys defensive front has struggled nearly in the entire season getting QB sacks, but have been able to be somewhat successful applying pressure.
The best way to throw Manning off his game is to collapse the pocket around him. That's usually when he makes a mistake in the passing game. And any time you can create more opportunities for the Cowboys offense by getting the Giants off the field, is a good thing.
Ereck Flowers particularly had a tough game, and I would expect defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli to attack him early and often to try make Eli Manning as uncomfortable as possible.
Stop the Giants running game
The Pittsburgh Steelers pretty much made the Giants offense one-dimensional by stopping the running game.
Rookie running back Paul Perkins was the leading rusher for the Giants, but only managed 38 yards on seven carries.
The Dallas Cowboys have been pretty good about containing opposing rushers in 2016. I'm pretty sure they have yet to allow a 100 yard rusher this season and let's just hope that streak continues this week.
The more one-dimensional the Cowboys can make the Giants offense, the easier it is to keep Eli Manning and the Giants wide receivers from taking over the game.
Contain Odell Beckham Jr.
I would've predicted that Odell Beckham Jr. would've had a huge game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, but that really wasn't the case Sunday afternoon.
Now, Beckham did finished the game with 10 catches for 100 yards, but the Steelers secondary did a really good job of making things as difficult as possible the entire game. To say that that frustrated Beckham would be an understatement.
Back in the season opener, the Cowboys secondary limited Beckham to just four catches for 73 yards, but that was with Morris Claiborne in the lineup.
The Cowboys defense simply can't allow Beckham to take over the game if they want a chance of continuing their winning streak.
I expect the secondary for the Cowboys to be physical and make Beckham work for every catch he gets, much like the Steelers secondary.
What do you think the Dallas Cowboys learned from the Steelers/Giants game?
Please feel free to use the comment section below to share your thoughts and opinions on this topic.
WR Randall Cobb Named Cowboys “Surprise Standout” for Offseason
NFL teams have wrapped up their offseason activities with the close of OTAs, especially where the players are concerned, and await the start of training camps next month. In reviewing the last few months, ESPN had their local reporters each pick a surprise standout from their team's practices. Todd Archer, who covers the Dallas Cowboys full time, selected veteran receiver Randall Cobb.
Cobb is in his first season with Dallas after signing as a free agent last March. He's spent the last eight years with the Green Bay Packers and was a Pro Bowler in 2014, but has struggled with injuries the last few seasons.
Here were Archer's observations on how Randall is doing so far with the Cowboys:
Normally a player with Cobb's résumé -- 470 catches for 5,524 yards and 41 touchdowns during his career -- would not be considered for a category like this. But injuries limited him to only nine games and 38 catches for Green Bay in 2018, and it was hard to know what the Cowboys were getting in the veteran receiver.
If the offseason work is any indication, they have found a replacement for Cole Beasley. Cobb's versatility can expand the offense for others, such as Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup. Cobb looked quick in and out of his breaks and fast enough to make plays down the field. Will he put up the 1,287 yards he had in 2014? No, but he gives Dak Prescott a security blanket in the slot who can turn a small gain into a big one.
The notion of Cobb replacing Beasley is a big one. While we'd like to think that Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup will provide plenty of firepower for the Cowboys offense, Dak Prescott has enjoyed a reliable threat from the slot position since he arrived.
Randall Cobb, when healthy, can do more than just make clutch catches. He has good run-after-catch skills and perhaps bring more big play potential than Beasley did.
If Cooper and Gallup do emerge as a dangerous starting duo on the outside, Cobb should have even more opportunities to punish defenses than Beasley did.
If nothing else, it's very encouraging to hear that one of the Cowboys' few 2019 free agent moves is already reaping benefits. Cobb still needs to bring it over a full season to really justify the move, but these early reports are cause for excitement.
BREAKING: Cowboys TE Rico Gathers Receives One-Game Suspension
Tight End Rico Gathers already had an uphill climb to return to the Dallas Cowboys' 53-man roster in 2019. But that climb just got even steeper; the NFL handed down a one-game suspension to Gathers today for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy.
If he does make the team this year, with Dallas or anyone else, Rico will have to sit out Week One of the season without pay.
Cowboys TE Rico Gathers is suspended without pay for the first game of the 2019 regular season for violating the NFL's policy and program on substances of abuse. This is from his arrest in 2018 for marijuana possession.
Gathers' chances of returning in 2019 were already hurt by Jason Witten's reversed retirement. He dropped to fourth on the TE depth chart behind Witten, Blake Jarwin, and Dalton Schultz, and Dallas only kept three tight ends last year.
The Cowboys also added Codey McElroy as a developmental player during the offseason.
While the suspension is news, the incident that led to it is not. Dallas already knew about the arrest, which occurred in early September of 2018, and have kept Gathers around up until now.
The NFL's substance abuse system is pretty formulaic, so the Cowboys likely anticipated this suspension all along. This may not change anything about how they value Rico Gathers for the 2019 season.
Nevertheless, a player who can't help you in Week One and is a liability for ever longer suspensions down the road is definitely a red flag against Gathers' job security.
Antwaun Woods: Cowboys DT is Just Getting Started
Antwaun Woods went undrafted in 2016 coming out of USC. After two years with the Tennessee Titans, he would only see one game of action. In May of 2018, the Cowboys signed Woods to a two-year contract worth 1.05 million. Probably seen as nothing more than a practice squad guy, Woods would quickly show he was much more than that.
The newly acquired Woods started his climb to stardom in Oxnard during training camp, and not for making plays. One day during practice he got into a friendly game of fisticuffs with All-Pro Center Travis Frederick. The team even posted the video on social media, which had fans buzzing and wanting to know who he was.
All-Pro Running Back Ezekiel Elliott echoed those thoughts when he saw Woods during camp. "Honestly, when we first got him, we were like, 'Who is this guy?'. He was giving Travis Frederick, one of our best players, hell all camp. Just trying to figure out where this guy came from," Elliott said.
Once the regular season started it was clear the Cowboys had found a hidden gem. Although the sack numbers won't dazzle you, seeing as he only registered 1.5, you could forget about running the ball anywhere near him. Woods has amazing quickness for a 300 pounder which allows him to extend his arms before offensive lineman can get a hand on him.
How significant is that? It becomes that much easier to bull rush and blow running plays up in the backfield.
When you can get your hands on an offensive lineman immediately when the ball is snapped, he's basically under your control. You can move him around like a puppet on a string. Essential for a 1-technique nose tackle. With that being said, there should be no surprise the Cowboys finished fifth against the run in 2018 with Woods manning the middle.
Woods draws a lot of double teams, and he handles them well. Having the ability to take on multiple linemen frees up your other playmakers. As the anchor in the middle, Woods made life a lot easier for not only his fellow defensive linemen but the team's two young star Linebackers Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch. Allowing them to roam freely like Lions in the Serengeti makes running backs essentially Zebra's carrying the ball, cooked food. So much so that both tallied over 120 tackles and were the only teammates in the NFL to rank in the top 15 in that category.
There's nothing but upside with Antwaun Woods. He's only had 18 games of experience in three years. He's already a stud, but with limited snaps, it can only mean he'll be even more formidable going forward.
The Cowboys have a loaded defensive lineman group with around 15 bodies, plenty of competition. All signs point to him remaining the starter, but it's not guaranteed. Even with that being said I don't expect a complacency from Woods, especially with DeMarcus Lawrence and Robert Quinn looking like the only sure starters on the defensive line. Plus this is a contract year for him, so you know he'll be even more motivated as he tries to maximize his dollars. We've only seen the tip of the iceberg from this raw talent, setting up for a potential breakout year for him in 2019.
Dallas Cowboys5 days ago
3 Dallas Cowboys Who Could Be Traded Before Week 1
Dallas Cowboys2 weeks ago
Former Redskins RB Rob Kelley Could Be Shrewd Signing for Cowboys
Dallas Cowboys1 week ago
5 Takeaways from Dallas Cowboys OTA’s
Dallas Cowboys2 weeks ago
Kasey Redfern, a Name Dallas Cowboys Fans Might Want to get to Know
Star Blog2 weeks ago
3 Reasons 2019 Will be Dak Prescott’s Best Season Yet
Star Blog2 weeks ago
How Concerned Should We Be About Ezekiel Elliott’s Situation?
Dallas Cowboys7 days ago
Could Amari Cooper Threaten Cowboys Receiving Records in 2019?
Star Blog2 weeks ago
Will DE Taco Charlton “Break Out” In 2019?