Are you ready for some football? Sunday Night Football! I know I am. It's the end of a 10-day gap between Cowboys games and, while I'm glad the team got a few extra days of rest, I'm ready to get #13 in the books. It's the Dallas Cowboys at the New York Football Giants under the lights of prime time and I don't know about you, but this game has been on my mind for about eight weeks.
Week one this season was an exciting one for Cowboys fans. Yes, it was NFC East football at home in Arlington, but it was also the debut of two rookies we all had great ideas of, but no real expectations. I won't say it was a total success because they did lose the game, but to go into that with a rookie QB and rookie RB in their first game together and have it come down to Terrance Williams not running out of bounds, well... that's just special. And it hasn't gotten any less special from there.
But this week 14 Giants match-up has been on my mind since the 49ers game. That's when I really started to believe this team had that extra something and I knew that with each win that followed, this week was going to be the week.
So let's check in with the guys here and see what they expect from tonight's game.
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Brian Martin | @Bmart0204
I was really hesitant to pick the Cowboys to win this game.
There are just so many variables that suggest the Giants will be the victors tonight with the home-field advantage. But, I'm going to say that Dallas finds the magic once again and extends their winning streak to 12 consecutive games.
Cowboys 24 – Giants 21
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Kevin Brady | @Kevinbrady88
Prepare for a heart attack, Cowboys Nation. Games between these two are almost always close, and I think tonight will be no different.
Tied at 21 with just a few minutes to play, Dak Prescott silences the Giants' crowd and Dan Bailey kicks the Cowboys to an NFC East title.
Cowboys 24 – Giants 21
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Sean Martin | @ShoreSportsNJ
This game will be played about 20 minutes from where I'll be watching it - in the friendly confines of Montclair State University. With that said, I have the Cowboys clinching the East behind efficient offense that is sparked by an offensive line that wants nothing more than to eat up a Giants defense that bullied them in week 1.
With the limited touches the Giants offense gets in the cold, Dallas' secondary holds up just fine, and New York can't run the football. Cowboys win. Leggo.
Cowboys 27 – Giants 17
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Justin Grohowski | @Grohowknowhow
Dallas avenges its only loss of the season in style, as Zeke Elliott triples his rushing numbers from week one. This isn't the same Dallas team, and certainly not the same Zeke that they faced in September. This isn't a must-have for the Cowboys, but it is if you're like me and want no part of New York come playoff time.
The Cowboys can play their part in knocking the Giants off their path to the playoffs with a win here. Dak will have all day and then some to throw as JPP is inactive, and the offense will not be slowed by the Giant defense.
Oh yeah, and the impending bad weather will benefit the Cowboys and their ground game. Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.
Cowboys 31 – Giants 20
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John Williams | @John9williams
The Dallas Cowboys have taken on each and every challenge and have come away with victories in their last eleven games. Anyone who thinks that this Cowboys team has more to prove is just a hater.
They are playing as well as any team in the league at this point in the season, and seem to be able to play any kind of game that the opponent wants to play. Want to get in a shootout? No problem. Defensive struggle? Let's do it. You aren't very good? Well we aren't going to play down to you, so get ready to be pounded.
The Dallas Cowboys are ready to clinch the division. They are ready for greatness. Dallas wins this one in a balanced offensive attack.
Cowboys 27 – Giants 20
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RJ Ochoa | @RJOchoa
We all laughed when Cowboys/Giants wasn't opening week's Sunday Night Football game, well here we are 13 weeks later.
The Cowboys and Giants have met once before on December 11th - in 2011. Expect the Cowboys Offense to get back on track in a fun and dramatic shootout.
Cowboys 37 – Giants 34
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Jess Haynie | @CowboysAddicts
I expect a shootout.
The Giants will throw a lot and force Dallas to keep pace. However, with the extra rest, the Cowboys will be up to it. Dak Prescott will have a career day in passing yardage.
Cowboys 34 – Giants 30
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Bryson Treece | @BrysonTreece
The Giants are going to come after Dak Prescott all game, just like they did in week one. It doesn't matter that JPP is out, they'll still bring the blitz to disrupt Dak and try to stop Ezekiel Elliott in the backfield. But I don't think it'll work the way it did on September 11.
Since the first week of the season, Elliott has found his rhythm behind an NFL offensive line. He's developed the patience he so clearly lacked in week one, and he's become a monster because of that. Prescott has had some ups and downs sicne then, but he's also grown into his role these last three months. My only real concern is the Cowboys' secondary and whether they'll give (sh)Eli Manning time in the pocket.
Cowboys 20 – Giants 13
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The 8-4 New York Giants aren't just going to roll over for the Cowboys' 12th straight win, and these Cowboys are going to have struggles throughout the game, especially if it's a white field.
For those of you in or near the Lake Highlands area of Dallas tonight, come on down to Go 4 It Sports Bar and Grill (10677 Northwest Hwy, Dallas, TX 75238) and join me (Bryson Treece), Bobby Belt, and more from around Cowboys nation for some drinks and a watching party. The bar is located at the corner of Northwest Highway and Plano Rd. (same shopping center as the Kroger).
Stay Safe Cowboys Nation. GO COWBOYS!!!
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.
Do Or Die: Chidobe Awuzie Must Improve Sunday, Or Cowboys Season Could End
Coming into the season there was a lot of hype surrounding the Dallas Cowboys' cornerbacks. With Byron Jones moving from safety full time, and now second year player Chidobe Awuzie playing opposite Jones after a promising rookie season, there was a lot for Cowboys fans to be excited about.
Through the first 10 weeks of the year, though, only one of those two has maintained fans' excitement. While Byron Jones has been arguably the best cornerback in all of football, Chidobe Awuzie has been damn-near an automatic completion when thrown at.
Awuzie has a -5.8 coverage rating this season, 65th among cornerbacks in the NFL. Coverage rating is a metric which factors in how often a cornerback is targeted as well as how many passes they've defensed per target. Quarterbacks also have a 116.6 passer rating when targeting Awuzie, compared to just 64.5 when targeting Byron Jones. For comparisons sake, Jones' coverage rating is a +45! So you can see why "cornerback opposite of Jones" is becoming a need for the Cowboys.
What's perplexing about Awuzie's season, though, is that he is only giving up an average 0.95 yards of separation, 27th in the league (courtesy of playerprofiler.com). So while Awuzie is playing relatively sticky coverage, he's still being targeted often, and he's still allowing completions way too often.
This week, Chidobe Awuzie will be tested once again, this time by the dynamic passing game of the Atlanta Falcons. The match-up many fans are focusing on is that between Byron Jones and Julio Jones, but how Awuzie does against Calvin Ridley and Mohamed Sanu may play a bigger factor in the result.
Both Ridley and Sanu are solid supporting receivers, and considering how much attention the defense typically has to pay to Julio Jones, they tend to get man coverage often. This allows for a precise route runner like Ridley to take advantage of opportunities, and come away with the types of big plays we've seen from him this year.
When matched up with either of these weapons, Awuzie will need to continue to stay close, but play and defense the ball better. He must continue to make it hard on these receivers and force them into contested catches, but hopefully he can improve on his play when the ball gets to the catch point.
Sunday will be another big test for the Cowboys' young defense. And as well as they have played most weeks, this game has the potential to be a season ender if certain guys do not step up. One of those guys who will certainly play a key role in influencing the result in Chidobe Awuzie.
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