At 3-4 and heading into Monday Night Football, the Dallas Cowboys are sitting in a precarious position when it comes to the NFC Playoffs. With only nine games left, they're going to need to go on a serious run the rest of the season to put themselves in a position to compete for a Super Bowl this season. The way I see it, they'd need to go 7-2 the rest of the way and would probably need to win the NFC East to get into the tournament.
Against the Tennessee Titans, who are also 3-4, the Dallas Cowboys will be facing a team that is eerily similar to themselves. Inside The Star Staff Writer Kevin Brady gave you an inside look at the Tennessee Titans, and if you aren't sure about it, the Titans are the AFC version of the Dallas Cowboys.
The Dallas Cowboys need to win this game. In order to do so, they'll have to be the better team in the following areas against the Tennessee Titans.
Open Up the Passing Game
The Dallas Cowboys have had their struggles offensively, but mostly on the road. At home, they've averaged 28 points per game. Over the bye week the Dallas Cowboys made a couple of moves to try to spark the offense by trading for Wide Receiver Amari Cooper and replacing Offensive Line Coach Paul Alexander with Marc Colombo.
Now's the time to get aggressive in the passing game. Michael Gallup and Allen Hurns are coming off of their best games of the season against the Redskins. Cole Beasley is one of the more unguardable wide receivers in the NFL. Amari Cooper just adds another dynamic weapon to a passing game that has had some good moments this year.
Now's the time for Dak Prescott and Scott Linehan to let it rip.
The Tennessee Titans have allowed 250 yards passing in three games this season, most recently in their week seven loss to the Los Angeles Chargers. In that game in London, Philip Rivers threw for 297 yards beating the Titans 20-19. The Titans had a chance to tie the game and send it to overtime, but elected to go for two and the two point conversion attempt failed.
Get In the End Zone
The Tennessee Titans and The Dallas Cowboys have allowed the fewest touchdowns in the NFL at 13. Just under two touchdowns per game. The Baltimore Ravens have allowed 15 touchdowns through eight games.
That is the name of the game in the NFL. You force teams to kick field goals and you're going to come out on top more often than not. The Titans are pretty average in most statistical categories, aside from touchdowns allowed. They've allowed the 13th most yards per drive this season, and are middle of the pack in most defensive statistics. They're solid, but not spectacular.
The Dallas Cowboys will be able to move the ball on the Titans, but they'll have to score touchdowns when they get the ball into the red zone as opposed to kicking field goals.
Prior to week nine the Dallas Cowboys ranked 30th in total touchdowns scored. They sat behind the Oakland Raiders, Jacksonville Jaguars, Arizona Cardinals and New York Giants in total touchdowns. Each and every one of those offenses I just listed are considered bad offenses by most, if not all, NFL analysts.
That's not a place you want to be if you want to win games in the NFL. Interestingly enough, the Tennessee Titans are 31st in the NFL in touchdowns scored. Only one teams in the bottom 10 in the NFL in touchdowns scored has a winning record, the Washington Redskins.
The team that is able to score touchdowns in this game as opposed to settling for field goals is going to be the victor on Monday night.
Contain Jurrell Casey
The Dallas Cowboys have struggled with really good interior players this season and they'll face another good one on Monday Night Football in Jurrell Casey. The 29-year-old defensive tackle is leading the Titans in total pressures (sacks, hits, and hurries) with 21 and leads the Titans with 4 sacks, per Pro Football Focus.
According to PFF, Casey is leading the Titans with 22 stops (plays that are considered a loss for the offense), which is tied for third in the NFL among interior defensive lineman. Casey sits only two stops behind Aaron Donald, who's considered one of the best players in the NFL.
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The Dallas Cowboys have a chance to pull within one game of the NFC East leading Washington Redskins with a win on Monday Night Football. They have to take advantage of an opportunity to close the gap in the divisional race. That opportunity lies before them on Monday Night Football.