Who's ready for some noon football? Yeah, I know. Noon games are a little weird for me too. I don't know why. But it's what we've got as the Dallas Cowboys host the Baltimore Ravens at AT&T Stadium, and the Cowboys' week 11 opponent is set to follow the week 10 struggle against the Steelers with another whopper.
It's tough to know exactly what the Ravens defense has in store for the 'Boys because they haven't faced a rushing attack quite like Dallas', but they're pretty stout. And they can cover a bit too. When it's all said and done we might see another ugly outing for Dak Prescott.
Let's face it, it was an ugly game for Prescott last week. He had his moments, but from the first drive, when he fumbled the ball to an unnoticed rusher, it wasn't pretty.
But much like the trip to Pittsburgh, this hometown match-up against Baltimore could leave us all cheering Dak Prescott as the hero of the day. Ugly or not, a win is a win, and he found a way to do what was needed when it mattered most. That's all that matters. And with Ezekiel Elliott and that line at his side (figuratively speaking, of course), it's always possible.
With temperatures trending toward the mid to upper 50s, this will be the fifth meeting between the Cowboys and Ravens, and only the second time the Ravens have traveled to the Lone Star State. You might remember the first time the ravens were in town. It was 2008 and the final Cowboys game to played at the storied Texas Stadium in Irving, TX.
Talk about ugly...
I can still remember the stream of profanity pouring out of my mouth watching then-safety Ken Hamlin whiff on a tackle that wound up a 90-ish yard touchdown run. And then it happened again; almost the exact same play, the same whiff, same distance, same six points. It was just a different runner.
Anyway, enough of the (not so) glory days. Let's check out this team's outlook for the day.
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Brian Martin | @Bmart0204
This might be the toughest run defense the Dallas Cowboys have faced all season, but there's not much else about the Baltimore Ravens that suggests this should be a tough game.
I think the Cowboys will completely dominate this game from start to finish.
Cowboys 31 – Ravens 17
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Kevin Brady | @Kevinbrady88
Sooner or later they have to lose again, right? Well, after predicting it to happen last week, I think I'm done expecting a loss.
Baltimore is a pretty good football team with a strong defense, but I think the Cowboys' run game will prove to be too much. Joe Flacco gives our defense one, Dak Prescott doesn't, and that ends up being the difference in the game.
Cowboys 26 – Ravens 21
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Justin Grohowski | @Grohowknowhow
All of the attention for this game has centered around the elite Dallas rushing attack versus the league's best rush defense. I, however, expect the Cowboys to win this one through the air. Dak and Dez Bryant appear to have hit their stride and that will continue.
Jimmy Smith is doubtful to play as well, which hurts Baltimore in the secondary. I expect Dallas to hit a few big plays through the air, get the lead, and ride that running game in the second half.
Until a team proves they can slow down Zeke Elliott, I'll bet on him and that offensive line all day long. The pedestrian Ravens offense won't be able to keep pace.
Cowboys 27 – Ravens 17
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Ian Koplowitz | @BleedingTheStar
Man, I've got a bad feeling about this one. The Ravens are a team that truly has our kryptonite: stopping the run. I think they're going to sell out to stop the run and leave the game in the hands of their secondary to stop Dak Prescott. I'm just not sure he's going to be able to consistently beat them to pull out the win.
I think our defense is going to have to slow them down. If we can keep them out of the end zone one too many times, we'll pull it out. Just not sure about this one. Side note: I think this is a game Tony Romo would easily win. Just saying. 🙂
Cowboys 17 – Ravens 20
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Sean Martin | @ShoreSportsNJ
The Ravens defense certainly worries me, not because I expect the Cowboys offensive line to lose their match-ups across the board, but because of their ability to force tight throws. Dak Prescott will have to be as sharp as we've seen, and I think he will be.
The offense does just enough, and DeMarcus Lawrence records two sacks to help the defense.
Cowboys 24 – Ravens 20
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John Williams | @John9williams
This week the Dallas Cowboys will match their running game strength against a team who looks to play the part of a shut down defense, the Baltimore Ravens.
The Ravens have played three teams a good to very good running team, but with mixed results against the likes of the Buffalo Bills (65 rushing yards), the New York Jets (155), and the Pittsburgh Steelers (36).
The Dallas Cowboys bring a more physical style of running than any of those teams, which to me will be the difference in the football game. The Cowboys will be the first NFC team since the 2003 St. Louis Rams to go 4-0 against the AFC North with a decisive double-digit win.
Cowboys 24 – Ravens 14
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RJ Ochoa | @RJOchoa
The Ravens Defense isn't the dominant force people are purporting, but it's a little stingy.
The Cowboys will break away in the second half, and a garbage-time Baltimore score will make things look closer than they really were. Cowboys win. 9-1. Huzzah.
Cowboys 27 – Ravens 17
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Bryson Treece | @BrysonTreece
About the only thing that's certain this year is a team's potential to be better than those before them. After facing and defeating the Bengals, Packers, Eagles, and Steelers, with the special successes each have had thus far, the Cowboys continue to prove their potential is too much to handle.
I was nervous about last week and wound up sitting in agony on the edge of my seat for three hours, but the Steelers fell in the end. I'm nervous about the Ravens as well, but it's as much about the fear of eight in a row distracting some of the younger players than the Ravens.
The Cowboys will come out swinging in this one. Dak Prescott is gaining more confidence each week in his arm and his receivers and that'll show today. Combined with Ezekiel Elliott's NFL-best rushing attack, the 'Boys top the Ravens by two scores and ride Elliott through the fourth quarter.
Cowboys 24 – Ravens 14
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These Cowboys keep knocking them down as if they're not the best team in football and that's exactly what needs to happen today. Play like the record is 0-9 and that elusive 9-1 will come.
It's almost Thanksgiving and that means we get some more NFC East rivalry, good food, and Thursday football for the next two weeks. So enjoy the last Sunday of Cowboys football until December 11.
Be safe, get LOUD, and GO COWBOYS!!!
Cowboys Wishlist: Snap Julio Jones’ Hot Streak
The Dallas Cowboys will try to get their second road win of the season against another inconsistent Atlanta Falcons team. As both try to get back to .500, this game will be filled with interesting matchups and implications. After upsetting the Philadelphia Eagles 27-20 last Sunday, the Cowboys need to get another upset win to keep being relevant in the league this year.
Here's this week's edition of Cowboys Wishlist! I hope you enjoy and I encourage you to let me know what your wishes are in the comments section below or tweet me @MauNFL!
Wish #1: Stop Julio Jones' 100-Yard Game Streak
With the Atlanta Falcons sitting at 4-5, many have overlooked Wide Receiver Julio Jones' hot streak. In each of his last four games, Jones has accounted for more than 100 receiving yards and two touchdowns. Totaling 476 yards in his last four games, Jones is ready to face Cowboys' Cornerback Byron Jones.
Byron has certainly been a pleasant surprise in 2018, playing at a great level right now. He has faced Odell Beckham and DeAndre Hopkins this year and made a good job of defending these "Tier 1" pass-catchers. It's worth noting the Cowboys are not making him "travel" with these players but rather keep him on a specific side of the field. That shouldn't change against the Falcons.
Wish #2: Contain WR Calvin Ridley
Back in April, Cowboys Nation eyed Calvin Ridley as a prospect who could end up wearing the Star on Sundays. However, Dallas passed on him and the Alabama product fell right unto the Falcons' lap. He's had a pretty good season and despite sharing the field with Julio Jones, he's done a great job as a rookie averaging 14 yards per reception.
The Cowboys need to contain him. While Dallas should feel comfortable with Byron doing his job, the truth is Chidobe Awuzie has struggled at times. Not that he's suddenly a bad player, but he needs to step up his game. Lining up against Ridley today will be a great test and one I wouldn't expect him to pass easily.
Wish #3: Score 28+ Points
The Cowboys have the huge advantage of going against a defense that ranks 29th in scoring defense. They did a nice job on Philadelphia last week and should continue to build on that success to do something they haven't done much this year: score a lot of points.
Scott Linehan's unit needs to do a better, more consistent, job. They've shown us they're capable of scoring, but they've also shown us their remarkable ability to seemingly forget how to do so. Blame it on play-calling, QB play, poor offensive line or whatever you prefer, it's a flawed unit.
They need to capitalize versus a poor defense like the Falcons' to find a steady rhythm.
Wish #4: Dak Makes This Falcons' Game a Turning Point
Last year, when Dak Prescott was sacked six times in Atlanta (five times by Adrian Clayborn) something changed for the Cowboys' young quarterback. Missing RB Ezekiel Elliott and LT Tyron Smith that day, Prescott had one of the worse days in his career. It was a turning point for him as a QB and the public eye.
Now he has a chance at redemption. A shot at putting the Cowboys at .500 and reviving playoff hopes, as unlikely as it sounds.
I wish that's the case for the Cowboys young passer in Atlanta. As flawed as he is, I'm a fan of his. The kid leaves it all on the field.
Cowboys, Falcons Week 11 Injury Report
The Dallas Cowboys and Atlanta Falcons are both 4-5 and playing to keep their seasons alive. It's a mutual must-win game, and both will have to try to win it without some key players. Once again, we look at this week's injury reports.
Let's begin with your Cowboys, whose report is getting longer as the season wears on:
- WR Tavon Austin (groin) - OUT
- DE Taco Charlton (shoulder) - OUT
- DT David Irving (ankle) - OUT
- DT Daniel Ross (calf) - OUT
- LB Sean Lee (hamstring) - OUT
- DT Antwaun Woods (concussion) - Doubtful
- G Zack Martin (knee) - Questionable
- G Connor Williams (knee) - Questionable
- DT Maliek Collins (knee) - Questionable
- LB Joe Thomas (foot) - Questionable
The biggest news is the guy who won't miss tomorrow's game; All-Pro guard Zack Martin is expected to play despite his knee injury from last Sunday night. The Cowboys, already dealing with Travis Frederick's absence and now health issues at left guard, could ill afford to go without Martin in such a pivotal game.
Even if he was healthy, rookie Connor Williams might have a hard time getting in the game. Backup Xavier Su'a-Filo looked like an experienced former second-round pick last week, and he may be the better player for now.
The defensive line has been hit hard, particularly in the middle. With Irving and Ross out, Woods doubtful, and Collins uncertain, Dallas called up DT Christian Ringo from the practice squad. They will also be without Taco Charlton, who could play inside some. Veteran Caraun Reid will be seeing a lot of playing time.
Sean Lee's ongoing absence has become almost an afterthought now with the stellar play of Leighton Vander Esch. We've seen in the past when missing Lee meant disaster on defense, but Dallas' first-round rookie has helped mitigate the damage.
- LB Deion Jones (foot) - OUT
It's a short list for Atlanta, but the one name on it is a big one. Arguably the team's best defensive player, Deion Jones will miss the game with a foot injury.
The Falcons' injury issues have been more in players suffering season-ending injuries. Both starting guards, Andy Levitre and Brandon Fusco, are on injured reserve. Star running back Devonta Freeman is also there, and those losses help explain Atlanta's 30th-ranked rushing offense.
Both starting safeties are also on IR; Ricardo Allen and Keanu Neal. Atlanta has one of the league's worst passing defense this year without them, ranking 30th in yards allowed and 28th in opponent passer rating.
So yes, the Falcons injury report compared to the Cowboys' may raise some eyebrows. But in terms of who has most of their key guys, Dallas is arguably still better off.
Cowboys Have Already Corrected Biggest Mistake From 2017 Loss in Atlanta
The Dallas Cowboys play their next three games in 13 days, all critical to their hopes of winning the NFC East despite alternating wins and losses since week one. For the Cowboys to earn consecutive road wins, their first coming on Sunday night at the Eagles, they'll have to come out of Atlanta in much better shape than they did just a year ago.
As expected in the NFL, a lot has changed in this year. The Cowboys 27-7 loss at the Falcons in their first game without Running Back Ezekiel Elliott was the beginning of the end on a season that forced a multitude of coaching changes in Dallas.
The Cowboys stubbornness in allowing Falcons DE Adrian Clayborn to sack Dak Prescott six times by beating Chaz Green and Byron Bell is something they hoped to move past when new positional coaches were brought in at OL, TE, QB, and WR.
It took the team admitting that these moves below Offensive Coordinator Scot Linehan were not all correct two weeks ago for the Cowboys to see any real progress, but with their win last week there's hope that the Cowboys are the improved team expected weeks ago - arrived just in time for Thanksgiving.
Firing Offensive Line Coach Paul Alexander was the first move, as the Cowboys named Marc Colombo OL Coach and Hudson Houck his assistant. Colombo told 105.3 The Fan in Dallas this week that he has injured Center Travis Frederick on a headset during games as well.
Colombo, Houck, and Frederick have the Cowboys offensive line confident in their ability to play to their strengths, rewarded with a renewed faith in the zone blocking scheme that was forgotten under Alexander.
If the Cowboys offensive line was their first problem in last year's Falcons loss (it was), it's becoming their biggest strength at the right time in the season.
The Cowboys necessary changes didn't stop here though.
In desperate need of a play maker on the outside, the Cowboys are seeing their investment into Wide Receiver Amari Cooper pay off so far. Cooper is averaging 3.2 yards of separation on his routes this season, ahead of Cole Beasley's 2.6 yards as the next closest pass catcher.
Cooper's presence was a big part of Ezekiel Elliott's 151 yard rushing performance at the Eagles. A player that can win on the outside with ease and dictate coverage has benefited Prescott and the Cowboys game plan on offense enough to send away a first round pick.
It will be up to this "rebuilt" Cowboys offense to match the Falcons on Sunday. Atlanta is averaging 27.1 points per game this season, but a much more dangerous 32.2 at home. After a 1-4 start, the 4-5 Falcons are playing in front of their home fans for the first time in two weeks, losing at the Browns in week ten.
The Cowboys felt they'd be prepared for games like this after their offseason moves, instead needing to show the type of in-season urgency that's been rare for Jason Garrett's team. The same can be said about a Falcons team that's experienced playing with their backs to the wall much sooner than the Cowboys have this season, setting up a big NFC match up in the early slot Sunday.
Dak Prescott will be thankful that Chaz Green nor Byron Bell are protecting him, wanting nothing more than to deliver another win for the Cowboys to take into Thanksgiving against the division-leading Washington Redskins. Not all of the coaches responsible for the lack of adjustment in last year's game are gone. What the Cowboys do have are tangible new ideas from coaches that understand they need more than a win at the defending Super Bowl champions to call this Cowboys season a success.
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