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Game Notes

Cowboys And Redskins Return To Thanksgiving; Staff Picks And Predictions

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Dez Bryant, Redskins

Once upon a time, a bountiful feast betwixt the Pilgrims and the Indians was shared, the end. Not much of a story, I know, but that's only because we had to wait nearly four centuries to get to the good stuff. It's Thanksgiving, and that means we're preparing for the Three Effs of Thanksgiving; food, family, and football. The first two are on you, so don't skimp, but that last one, well... fate had an idea on that one.

This Thanksgiving, the Dallas Cowboys have invited the Washington Redskins into their home for something of a feast, too. Only this feast is sure to look a little more like:

 

Ezekiel Elliott

 

Than the more traditional scene of Thanksgiving festivities...

The first Thanksgiving 1621 by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris, 1863-1930, artist. Published by the Foundation Press, Inc., c1932. photomechanical print halftone, colour. Pilgrims and Natives gather to share meal. (Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty Images)

Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty Images

It's the Redskins, and we all know how that story goes. What we don't yet know is how this year's chapter, the Cowboys home game, will go. Lots of talk about Alfred Morris getting his second shot against his former teammates, which RJ Ochoa covered in this week's 5 Bold Predictions. But mostly, the talk of both towns is whether or not the Redskins can slow the Cowboys' roll at all.

The Cowboys sit atop the league at 9-1. While hugely improbable and not without its close calls, it is what it is. The 'Boys are also on a streak of eight consecutive games with at least 400 yards of total offence, and carrying that stat line through this contest would be an NFL record. Not to mention nine wins in a row, but there's no record to be set there (Thanks a lot, Dolphins and Patriots).

So, as we contemplate traditions, life, and the match-up before us, let's have a look at what The Star writers have to say.

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John Williams | @John9williams

Well, I've picked the Dallas Cowboys to win in every game this year, and they've made me look like a genius in every game, aside from the week one, one point loss to the New York Giants. As I am the eternal optimist, nothing will sway me now.

I see the Dallas Cowboys being able to win each and every game remaining on their schedule, the only question is, will they?

This week they face a Washington team on a bit of a role, that's running the ball very well and allowing Kirk Cousins to have some success. I see the Dallas Cowboys giving up a lot of yards to Washington, but will win the game because Washington will be forced to kick field goals.

Cowboys 31 – Redskins 24

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Kevin Brady | @Kevinbrady88

I expect this to be an absolute dog-fight, just as it was in week two.

This 9-game winning streak started at Washington, and it will continue to roll through Washington this week. Ezekiel Elliott goes over 100 yards against an NFC East foe for the first time, and Dez Bryant hauls in another touchdown catch.

Dan Bailey wins it late, and the Cowboys improve to 10-1.

Cowboys 27 – Redskins 24

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Sean Martin | @ShoreSportsNJ

I hope you're all ready to watch some points be scored on Thanksgiving. I have a feeling this is going to be a shootout game for the ages, and a new chapter on a classic NFC East rivalry.

As I submitted to RJ Ochoa in his bold predictions, I think the winning team will pull away by 17 or more points, and if I'm right in picking the Cowboys, the league will never doubt us again. Time to eat.

Cowboys 41 – Redskins 24

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RJ Ochoa | @RJOchoa

The Cowboys Offense has amassed eight consecutive games of over 400 total yards - only the 2007 Patriots and 2013 Broncos have done this. They'll get theirs, and they'll need them against Kirk Cousins and a feisty Redskins team.

Turkey Day Shootout!

Cowboys 30 – Redskins 24

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Ian Koplowitz | @BleedingTheStar

I just don't know anymore. I've picked against the Cowboys 3-4 times since week one, and they prove me wrong each time. This is a much improved Redskins team than the one we beat in week 2, but we're a lot better as well.

The weapons they have on offense scare me, but I think they're saying the same about us. We're really going to need a turnover or two in this game, and I think we can get one. In another close game, I look for Dan Bailey to give us the scores we need to widen the divisional gap.

Cowboys 27 – Redskins 24

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Jess Haynie | @CowboysAddicts

The Cowboys are the better team and get a major advantage with the short week at home.

Still, this will be a tight rivalry match-up. Dallas-Washington games are often unpredictable.

Cowboys 27 – Redskins 24

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Justin Grohowski | @Grohowknowhow

Two of the league's best offenses are squaring off in this divisional showdown. I expect it'll be a shootout, and the Dallas offense to not skip a beat in this one. Zeke Elliott gets back on track here, and the Dak to Dez show will continue to roll.

A banged up Dallas secondary could burn the Cowboys, but they finally force a late crucial turnover to swing this one in their favor. The extra short week for the Redskins could play a factor here as well, as they are coming off a Sunday Night Football win at home.

Dallas wins a tight one.

Cowboys 31 – Redskins 26

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Brian Martin | @Bmart0204

When the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins play each other, you can almost guarantee a tough physical game. This is the first time the Cowboys rookies are playing after a short week, but I think they're up to the challenge.

I give the Cowboys the advantage at home and think Dan Bailey kicks the winning field goal.

Cowboys 24 – Redskins 21

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Bryson Treece | @BrysonTreece

Yeah, the Redskins are on a roll, but so are the Cowboys. The only question is will the Cowboys find a way to win, again. They've done it most of the year so I know it's possible. It's even likely, and that's why I'm going with the 'Boys on this one.

Kirk Cousins and the Redskins will prove this to be just another NFC East rivalry match-up. They'll surprise us with their hunger, a rematch they've been waiting for since week two. But I see Dak Prescott (run), Dez Bryant (pass), and Ezekiel Elliott (run) each getting their own touchdowns, plus some Dan Bailey's clutch footwork to put it away.

Cowboys 31 – Redskins 24

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Wow. There's just a whole lot of wow going around this season.

I mean, even the most optimistic fan had to see 6-5 as a very real possibility when Tony Romo went down against the Seahawks in preseason. Nobody, and I mean no one, had any clue how these Cowboys could be playing for 10-1 come Thanksgiving.

But here we are, aren't we? It's just been a hell of a ride so far. I, for one, would have liked to see Tony Romo at the helm of this beast, but Dak Prescott has done an outstanding job leading this team. Which is why my gifts for Thanksgiving this year are new Tony Romo navy and Dak Prescott white jerseys. Not that I can wear them during the game, but that's another story for another time.

So enjoy it, folks.

We wish you all a very happy and fruitful Thanksgiving from everyone here at Inside The Star. We love you guys and enjoy sharing this ride with each and every one of you. Keep your loved ones close and the TV turned up loud, oh and try not to fall asleep before it's over, because this game is going to be fun to watch.

Stay Safe Cowboys Nation. GO COWBOYS!!!



This is the General Staff account for Inside The Star, a blog for Dallas Cowboys news, scores, schedule, rumors, and analysis. We are the official home for @CowboysNation on Twitter. Follow us today for new content updates straight from our timeline. To learn more about our staff, please visit our Staff listing.

Game Notes

Takeaway Tuesday: Scott Linehan’s Job Shouldn’t Be Safe

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Cowboys Revamped Offense Relies on Scott Linehan to Succeed 3

The Dallas Cowboys didn't look like they did during their five game winning streak when they entered Lucas Oil Stadium to face a hot Indianapolis Colts team. In fact, they had one of their poorest showings of all season, failing to score a single point all game. Heading home after being shutout 23-0, there isn't much to be said about the Cowboys' performance.

Here's this week's Takeaway Tuesday. This time, instead of talking about many takeaways, I needed to get one big takeaway off my chest. I hope you enjoy. Make sure to let me know how you feel about this topic in the comments section below or tweet me @MauNFL.

Scott Linehan's Job Shouldn't Be Guaranteed Going into the Playoffs

As tough as it is to fire one of your three main coaches when your team is headed into the postseason, the Dallas Cowboys should not rule out moving on from Scott Linehan. One win away from clinching the NFC East, it's not something you easily pull off but Linehan's play calling has been terrible all year long.

The truth is, despite Dak Prescott's struggles and a disastrous offensive line, the offense shouldn't be as inefficient as it is.

Watching a unit that counts with Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup and Ezekiel Elliott run a screen pass to Allen Hurns on fourth down and 14 was truly a microcosm of what this year has been for the offense.

Despite having a playoff berth practically clinched, the Cowboys should consider a change at offensive coordinator. Even if they don't fire Linehan, it's clear his play-calling is not good and could cost this team a real opportunity at a legit shot in the postseason. It would be an aggressive measure, without a doubt. The Minnesota Vikings did something similar by firing John DeFillippo a week ago. Based on their 41-17 win over the Miami Dolphins last Sunday, being aggressive sometimes pays.

3 Quick Fixes to Jumpstart Cowboys Anemic Offense 3

The Cowboys have arguably the best running back in the NFL in Ezekiel Elliott and yet they continue to misuse him. Whether it's turning their backs on their star tailback or over-using him, this offense has a hard time reaching balance. Dak Prescott's strengths could be exploited even more, but this OC refuses to do so.

As hard as it is to make a drastic change in coaching two weeks before the regular season ends, it truly could end up being a great move by the front office. Sure, Amari Cooper has had monster games since joining the Cowboys, but he could be even more dangerous under another coach.

Cowboys versus Colts was a coaching battle between Scott Linehan and former Dallas Cowboys LB coach, Matt Eberflus. It was the matchup of the week, and one we expected to be fun. Instead, we saw one side completely dominate the other. In the NFL, coaching matters. Probably even more than talent on a roster.

The biggest problem would be, who'd take over play-calling?

Since there isn't a promising candidate within the team, the team's only option would probably be letting HC Jason Garrett take over. It may not be ideal, but it could end up being an improvement over Linehan. Of course, it could also let the front office see what Garrett has to offer as a play caller and consider that when deciding how this coaching staff will look like in 2019.

It's unlikely that we see such a thing occur for the Cowboys, but if the offense has another letdown game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, I don't see how the front office doesn't at least consider this. They should.

Tell me what you think about "Takeaway Tuesday: Scott Linehan’s Job Shouldn’t Be Safe" in the comments below, or tweet me @MauNFL and let’s talk football! If you like football and are looking for a Dallas Cowboys show in Spanish, don’t miss my weekly Facebook Live! show, Primero Cowboys!



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Game Notes

Ezekiel Elliott Productive in Cowboys Blowout Loss to Colts

John Williams

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3 Stars from Dallas Cowboys Loss to the Seattle Seahawks

It was as ugly of a performance as we’ve seen from the Dallas Cowboys in the Jason Garrett era. For the first time in a decade and a half, the Cowboys were shut out and it was a game full of bad pretty much everywhere you looked. Everywhere accept Ezekiel Elliott.

What a waste! 

Elliott and the Cowboys offensive line played well for much of the game even with All-Pro Right Guard Zack Martin missing his first career start and losing starting Left Guard Xavier Su’a-Filo went out with an eye injury. 

On the day, Ezekiel Elliott carries the ball 18 times for 87 yards and added another seven receptions for 41. 25 touches for 128 total yards is a good game, but with nothing else going right for the Cowboys it was a game that ultimately didn’t matter. 

The one play where Elliott and the offensive line failed to come through was early in the game in a fourth and one that the Colts defense seemed to have snuffed out and blew up from the start. Elliott was able to convert a fourth and one later in the game. It looked like Elliott was close to breaking one for a long run several times but got tripped up at the end of the runs. He was his typical self this week. Taking runs that looked to be going for a loss and turning them into positive gains. 

In the race for the NFL's rushing title, Elliott has extended his lead on Todd Gurley to nearly 100 yards rushing. At 1,349 rushing yards on the season, Elliott will have a great shot to set a career high in rushing yards with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New York Giants remaining on the schedule. The Bucs have allowed the sixth most rushing yards and the fourth most rushing touchdowns in the NFL this season while the Giants have allowed the fifth most rushing yards and the seventh most rushing touchdowns in 2018.

It was a horrendous loss at a time when the Cowboys could have locked up the NFC East and there is zero excuse for it. They got out coached, out played, and were beaten physically on both sides of the ball and that doesn't happen very often, especially to the defense.

But if we're looking for something positive to take away from this game, it's that with all the offensive line injuries and the poor play of the passing game, Ezekiel Elliott and the running game continues to find ways to shine. With as bad as the loss was, that's something to hang your hat on.

All the Cowboys need to do moving forward is Feed Zeke!



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Game Notes

Sean’s Scout: Cowboys Can’t Finish Drives, Division Clinch with Shutout Loss at Colts

Sean Martin

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Sean's Scout: Cowboys Can't Finish Drives, Division Clinch with Shutout Loss at Colts

What is there to say about the Dallas Cowboys week 15 performance? After five straight wins, the last three coming at home, the Cowboys have only a return home to look forward to, facing the 5-9 Buccaneers on Sunday after a 23-0 defeat at the Colts.

Shutout for the first time since 2003, the Cowboys playoff hopes didn't take a hit despite the Redskins and Eagles winning on the road. Washington's last-second win went final just before the Colts ran the clock out on a game the Cowboys simply weren't ready for.

The Cowboys moved the ball well at times but failed to ever come away with points, opening the door for the Colts to expose this defense like it hasn't been all season. The Cowboys front four was hardly a factor on defense, allowing Colts Running Back Marlon Mack to average 5.1 yards a carry. Scoring the Colts only touchdowns, Mack and Andrew Luck assured the Cowboys running game wouldn't be a factor with their 10-0 halftime lead. Down to three backups at LG, C, and RG, Quarterback Dak Prescott stood little chance to bring the Cowboys back as the second half quickly got away from Dallas.

Internally, the Cowboys will have much more to say about their effort on Sunday, but here are just a few of my observations in the first somber edition of Sean's Scout since week nine.

  • The Cowboys defensive problems up front extended well into the second level, with Linebackers Leighton Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith both playing one of their worst games of the season. 

The Colts took a blocked Brett Maher field goal 44 yards for the game's opening score. Mack accounted for 34 of these yards and the touchdown. On his seven yard run to set up first and goal, Smith was caught taking a poor angle on Mack. The Cowboys were aggressive rushing up the field on the play, with Smith ending up being in the best position to slow Mack.

Vander Esch was sealed and couldn't fight to get off, which happened again three plays later on third and goal. Leighton looking like a rookie for the first time was just the start of the Cowboys problems, and with Sean Lee being active yet conceding starting snaps to him, it shouldn't take long for Vander Esch to figure things out again.

  • Jamize Olawale's dropped touchdown on third and goal to bring up a failed fourth and one was the moment the Cowboys were taken out of this game. 

This sequence was particularly deflating because the Cowboys did a great job getting down the field to have an opportunity to score. The fourth down decision to run out of a heavy formation, inviting extra defenders to the line of scrimmage, looks especially egregious when stacked against the Amari Cooper rush that picked up the Cowboys initial first down. Rookie Tight End Dalton Schultz got involved, Elliott ripped off a 24 yard run, and the Cowboys still came away empty on this drive.

A year removed from coaching the Cowboys linebackers, Colts Defensive Coordinator Matt Eberflus had his way with Scott Linehan's offense all afternoon, stymieing their most promising drive after Olawale should have scored easily.

  • The Cowboys only chance to get back in the game was taken away from them by a Joe Looney holding call, just another example of players that had carried them through a winning streak not playing up to standard. 

The Colts took the second half kickoff down the field to extend the lead to 17-0. On fourth and two on the ensuing possession, Prescott hit an injured Cole Beasley for 18 yards to the Colts' 23-yard line. The Cowboys red zone offense certainly doesn't provide the confidence that Dallas would finish the drive, but Looney's hold negated Beasley's catch and forced a punt.

The Colts tacked on a field goal and finished out the game without the Cowboys threatening again. Looney played down to the level of Adam Redmond to his left, who replaced Xavier Su'a-Filo, and Connor Williams in for Zack Martin - though I thought Williams held up fairly well and should be in play to earn more snaps wherever needed.

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The Cowboys can regroup and still accomplish everything they set out for this season, forced to make this loss to the Colts and afterthought like their last one to the Titans became. A five game win streak as a response is out of reach, but a streak of just one is all Dallas needs to clinch the NFC East and focus on improvements for the playoffs.

Tell us what you think about "Sean’s Scout: Cowboys Can’t Finish Drives, Division Clinch with Shutout Loss at Colts" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!



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