If you believe the Dallas Cowboys don't stand a chance against the New England Patriots, you likely haven't watched both these teams closely. The Patriots are 9-1. They're also… well, the Patriots. It's only fair to believe they have it easy against any team in the league. However, it won't be an easy job at all to beat such a talented Cowboys team.
With three wins less to their name, the Dallas Cowboys have had some disappointing losses this season. They've given room for the classic “they've played nobody” takes since they have no impressive wins in their resumes just yet. But make no mistake about it, they can take on any team in the NFL.
The Cowboys' offense is elite and might just be the best in the entire league. At least according to DVOA, Dallas in fact has the league's top offense. Dak Prescott is playing at an MVP level and there's no denying it as he leads the league in passing yards and yards per attempt as well as many other advanced stats. He's throwing to a great group of wide receivers headlined by Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup while being protected by an elite offensive line and has one of the league's best running backs in Ezekiel Elliott. Few defenses should be able to stop them.
As for the defense, they definitely aren't the same as in 2018, but the talent is there to make important stops in big moments. After all, defensive ends DeMarcus Lawrence and Robert Quinn have both been great this season while the linebackers are the same ones that dominated last season. They can make plays even though they haven't been as consistent this season.
The 6-4 Dallas Cowboys could have a better win-loss record if it weren't for their own mistakes. They've lost plenty of games in which they don't necessarily look outplayed. But slow starts have been too much to overcome many times.
While they look like the league's best offense in the second half, they look way too different in the first quarter than they do later in the game. Almost 40% of their opponents' touchdowns have come in the first quarter. The difference is most noticeable when you look at the Cowboys' touchdowns.
They've only scored four first-quarter touchdowns all season. Only 11.76% of their total touchdowns. They've scored 11 touchdowns in the second quarter and another 11 in the fourth.
The Cowboys are one of the worst teams in the first quarter in the entire league. Sometimes it feels like playing from behind is part of Jason Garrett's gameplan. We've been talking about avoiding said slow starts all season, but this week it's an absolute must. You might be able to come back from behind against many other teams, but Bill Belichick's Patriots know how to preserve a lead.
When leading at halftime, the Patriots are 98-1 all-time at Gillette Stadium. Starting the game trailing 14-0 against this defense is an absolute no-no. The Cowboys need to be aggressive right from the get-go.
They need to avoid wasting first downs by running up the middle every time. Little by little, that trend seems to be slowing down. The Cowboys have found plenty of third down success, but that recipe won't work against the Patriots.
Remember how the Baltimore Ravens opened their game when they beat the then undefeated Pats? That's how you should start a football game when facing them. If the Cowboys don't come out swinging, forget about winning this one, even if the amount of talent isn't that different for both teams.
Don't doubt for a second that the Dallas Cowboys have the talent to beat the Patriots on the road. But can they avoid shooting themselves in the foot like they've frequently done all season long?