We made it! Today marks the first game of the season for both the Dallas Cowboys and the New York Giants, and in customary fashion, they're facing off in the season opener and Cowboys' home opener at AT&T Stadium.
Kickoff: 3:25 pm CDT
Where: Arlington, TX
Watch: FOX (TV), NFL Game Pass (Online)
See The Injury Report Here
The Cowboys squeaked by in 2015's opener against the Giants, 27-26 as the short-game took center stage. It was a tough fought game that was really no more than a toss-up between the NFC East division rivals, and today's game looks to be similar in many ways.
In 2015, the loss of Tony Romo was immediately felt by Cowboys Nation, both times it happened. In 2016 so far, Dak Prescott has shown an ability to make everyone forget he's just a rookie, but we can't let it happen. He is a rookie, and he's only played in the preseason thus far. He may have been thrown a particularly daunting curve ball when Romo was injured and he had to play the Seattle Seahawks' starting defense, but that was still only one half of football.
Today, he'll have to hold it together for four quarters, and in the NFL, 60 minutes of football is just enough time for anything to happen. Especially when playing a division rival.
As is our (new) tradition for the 2016 season, several of our writers (Staff Writers, Contributors, and myself) have offered me their predictions for the game and a the reasoning behind them, so let's take a look at what they have to say.
Jess Haynie (Cowboys 34 – Giants 24)
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Brian Martin (Cowboys 27 – Giants 24)
Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott may be just rookies, but they'll be leading the charge against the Giants. I predict we'll see a different Cowboys offense playing to the strengths of Prescott. I think it will catch the Giants defense off guard, thus resulting in the Cowboys win.
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John Williams (Cowboys 27 – Giants 23)
Dallas is going to win this game because of the line of scrimmage play on both sides of the ball. The offensive line is going to set the tone for the run game early and they will control the New York Giants' front throughout the game, thoroughly taking control in the fourth quarter to run out the game.
The Cowboys' defensive line will be just good enough to keep the pressure on Eli Manning and the weak Giants' offensive line. I look for Morris Claiborne to continue his excellent 2016 with a lock-down performance on Odell Beckham Jr. and Sterling Shepard; whoever Ben McAdoo is foolish enough to put on that side of the field.
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Justin Grohowski (Cowboys 24 – Giants 30)
The Dallas Cowboys' undefeated opening game streak against the New York Giants comes to an end. Ezekiel Elliott rushes for 120 on the ground, but Dallas falls short in a shootout.
The weak pass rush of the Cowboys is exposed, and Eli Manning has his way. Rookie Sterling Shepard steals the show, and Dallas cannot get enough stops in this one. Dak Prescott shows promise, but suffers some growing pains here, tossing two picks.
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Ian Koplowitz (Cowboys 24 – Giants 35)
Dak Prescott has looked as good as anyone could look this preseason. But he's not Tony Romo. I don't think the offense is going to just come out of the gate and be able to put up 35+ points on this Giants team, and I don't know where this defense is going to come up with a pass rush that can force turnovers and 3-and-outs. I think Zeke Elliott will have a nice first outing, but in the end, this could be an unfortunate home opener without #9.
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Kevin Brady (Cowboys 24 – Giants 31)
This was a tough one for me. I really want to believe in rookie quarterback Dak Prescott and the explosive Cowboys offense. But their clear deficiencies on the defensive side of the ball and their lack of experience at the quarterback position really scare me.
The Cowboys compete, but lose a close one late when they fail to rush Eli Manning, 31-24.
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Sean Martin (Cowboys 28 – Giants 21)
The Dak Prescott hype is real! The Cowboys offensive line is good enough to win this team football games with the rookie as their starter, and I think they will ultimately be the reason Dallas gets to 1-0 against the Giants.
Ezekiel Elliott will keep Prescott ahead of the chains, and Dak will throw two touchdown passes to Dez Bryant. When called upon, the defense will make a critical stop in the fourth quarter, as the Cowboys will defeat the New York Giants once again.
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RJ Ochoa (Cowboys 24 – Giants 33)
Dak Prescott is going to put our minds at ease when it comes to the future of this team, and at its most important position; however, the Giants offense is going to be too much for one of the NFL's weaker defenses.
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Bryson Treece (Cowboys 24 – Giants 21)
I think the Cowboys hold off the Giants and win by a field goal, if for no other reason than pure novelty. The Giants have a tremendous task ahead of them this afternoon; can anyone really say how well they'll be able to prepare for Dak Prescott and Zeke Elliott?
The Cowboys will come out strong with the advantage of the unknown on their side.
Sure, we've all seen Prescott and Elliott in the preseason, but the regular season is when the full offensive scheme is brought out, with all the distraction of a healthy Dez Bryant, Jason Witten, Cole Beasley, and the Space Cowboys on the offensive line. Not to mention the change-up between Elliott and Alfred Morris.
The Giants will figure this team out and close in during the second half, but it won't be enough. Whether it's a 30 point game, or an 80 point game, the Giants lose by a single score.
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There you have it. #TheStar has spoken.
Who do you agree with?
Use the comments below to give your prediction, or single one of us out on Twitter through the links above.
I wish everyone a happy game day and, as always, GO COWBOYS!
Takeaway Tuesday: Cowboys Have a Championship Defense
The Dallas Cowboys are not only breathing in playoff contention, but they're now the favorites to crown themselves as the NFC East champions in 2018. It's pretty impressive how the tables can turn so quickly in the NFL. Dallas played very well against the Atlanta Falcons last Sunday and we learned quite a bit from them as they bounced back to .500. Here's this week's Takeaway Tuesday! Enjoy it as much as you did Brett Maher's game winning field goal a couple of days ago.
Cowboys Have a Championship Defense
Despite taking steps in the right direction, it's impossible to compare this offense to units like the Chiefs, Saints and Rams. However, it's the Cowboys' defense that could be labeled as a championship unit. Facing an offense with such a strong WR core, allowing only one touchdown on the road is impressive.
The Cowboys sacked Matt Ryan three times and were constantly causing pressures. Byron Jones was great once again, allowing only two catches in passes thrown in his direction. And of course, the kid who's been impressing us all, Leighton Vander Esch continued to play out of his mind. He should be the Defensive Rookie of the Year front runner at this point.
The Cowboys' defense is one of the best in the NFL right now, and any offense will have a tough time facing them. It'll be intriguing to see if they can take the next step and stop a high-powered unit like the Saints in a few days.
Offensive Line Woes Are Gone
The offense has improved a lot the last couple of games. Although there is still a lot to work on, they're not struggling as they were in the first half of the season. The offensive line is a huge part of this. With Marc Colombo at OL coach, things have looked very different in Dallas.
Ezekiel Elliott: "I feel great. I feel fast. I feel physical. I feel very comfortable with the running schemes. We just got to keep rolling. That's what's important. We just got to keep rolling.
Ezekiel Elliott has been on a roll the past two weeks and his comments regarding how he feels about the running schemes shouldn't go unnoticed. The offensive line wasn't playing as well as they are right now earlier in the year. Dak Prescott is noticeably more comfortable in the pocket.
It's intriguing to know what will happen at left guard for the Cowboys. With Connor Williams injured, Xavier Su'a-Filo has done a good job filling in for him. Williams has the upside, but should Dallas mess up the mojo this OL has lately?
Dak Prescott: Clutch QB
Dak Prescott continues to be criticized by fans while he keeps proving us why it's not that easy to move on from him. The guy is far from the perfect passer, yet he's been clutch time and time again. This time he did so on the road on an impressive two minute drill.
With 1:46 on the clock, Prescott marched his team down to the Falcons' 24 yard line. He managed to give his team another game winning drive in consecutive weeks. The Cowboys' young quarterback needed a confidence boost and this is perfect for him. He needs to keep it up if the team is going to finish the season as the NFC East champions.
Since entering the NFL, Dak has 12 game winning drives. As frustrating as his play is at times, he will not be easy to replace if the Cowboys decide to move on from this guy down the road. Hopefully, they don't have to. I, for one, believe Dak can be way better with a proper coaching staff. But that's a discussion for another day.
Now, it's time to celebrate the Cowboys' victory and get ready for a short week as the Cowboys play the Washington Redskins on Thursday.
Ezekiel Elliott’s Excellence Elevates Cowboys in Road Win
For the first time this season the Dallas Cowboys have won back to back games moving to 5-5 on the year with a 22-19 win over the Atlanta Falcons in a game that they had to win to keep their playoff hopes alive. The defense was the story for most of the game, forcing the Atlanta Falcons to kick four field goals before allowing the game-tying touchdown with less than two minutes to play. The offense had trouble getting going until they leaned heavily on their star running back, Ezekiel Elliott.
Elliott, who went over the 200 total yard mark for the second time this season and the fourth time in his career was dominant in the second half, getting hard-fought yards en route to his fifth 100 yard game of the season.
Elliott averaged 5.3 yards per carry, on 23 carries, but was also the leading receiver for the Dallas Cowboys. Ezekiel Elliott on the day caught seven passes on eight targets for 79 yards as well.
The Cowboys first touchdown drive was reminiscent of who the Dallas Cowboys were in 2016. That season, and seemingly rarely since, the Cowboys would go on these long 10-15 play drives in the second half of games and take control of the game.
On Sunday in Atlanta, they did it again.
Trailing 6-3 in the second half with the defense playing an excellent game, the Cowboys went on a 14 play drive for 75 yards that took nearly eight minutes off the clock. It was a huge drive to give the Cowboys a lead and to give their defense a much deserved rest.
On that drive, Ezekiel Elliott saw the ball seven times and set the tone picking up several first downs that helped set up Dak Prescott's four yard touchdown run that took the lead. After Leighton Vander Esch's interception on the ensuing drive, Elliott once again made a huge impact taking the ball twice for 31 yards including the 28 yard touchdown run that put the Cowboys up 19-9 with a little more than 12 minutes to play in the game. And on the final drive of the game, Ezekiel Elliott caught a pass and picked up a first down just inside Falcons territory.
Over the last two weeks, you can see a big difference in the effectiveness of the run game. Elliott spoke about Amari Cooper being one reason they've had more success in the run game.
Ezekiel Elliott on Amari Cooper: "It's just one more guy they have to worry about. It seems like he kind of was the missing piece, just because when he got here this offense started rolling. It's great having him. He's a phenomenal player. He's going to have a great future here.
Amari Cooper's presence is a big reason for the offense and you can tell they've been a more complete offense the last two weeks. The addition of Cooper puts more stress on a defense in the passing game. Like Elliott said, he's a player that has to be accounted for, making his and the offensive line's jobs easier.
The play of the offensive line has also been really good the last two weeks since Marc Colombo took over as offensive line coach and coincidentally Xavier Su'a-Filo was inserted into the starting lineup for an injured Connor Williams.
Whatever the reason, Ezekiel Elliott seems to be on an upward trajectory.
Ezekiel Elliott is now averaging 129.4 total yards per game, which sits right at his career average heading into the 2018 season. He's on pace for 1,524 rushing yards, eight rushing touchdowns, 545 receiving yards, and 3 receiving touchdowns. The touchdown totals are down from his career pace, but he's still on pace for 2,000 total yards this season. If the last two weeks are any indications, that pace could see a huge bump in the second half of the season.
Since entering the NFL, Ezekiel Elliott has: * 17 games with 100+ rush yards * 24 games with 100+ scrimmage yards * 4 games with 200+ scrimmage yards * 3,567 rush yards The one similarity between these numbers? Elliott leads the NFL in each since 2016 #Cowboys
If you needed a singular note to tell you how great Elliott's been for the Dallas Cowboys, that's the one. It's amazing that Elliott leads the league in all of those categories including rushing yards considering he sat out six games last season and had a game where he rushed for only eight yards against the Denver Broncos in week two of 2017.
And then there’s this one.
@dallascowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott had 201 scrimmage yards and a TD in the team's Week 11 victory. Elliott (4,540 scrimmage yards & 32 TDs) became the third player in @NFL history with 4,500+ scrimmage yards & 30+ TDs in their first 35 career games.
The two other players to accomplish that feat were Eric Dickerson and Edgerin James. That’s some legendary company.
Ezekiel Elliott is a big-time player for the Dallas Cowboys and someone who they can lean on the rest of the season. If the Cowboys are going to make the playoffs it will be because the run game continued to play at a high level, which opened everything else up for the offense. While many people will tell you that running backs don't matter, Ezekiel Elliott certainly proved on Sunday that he matters.
And if you watch opposing defenses on Sunday's, they act like Elliott matters. Like Sunday, Ezekiel Elliott will continue to be a threat each week and big things are coming for him and the Dallas Cowboys.
The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly for Cowboys Against Atlanta
It may not have been very pretty, but the Dallas Cowboys were able to keep their playoff hopes alive by defeating the Atlanta Falcons at Mercedes-Benz Stadium Sunday afternoon. It's a place that wasn't kind to them a season ago, but they were able to overcome their demons and secure a much-needed victory.
This is a game that ended up being a lot closer than it probably needed to be. Missed opportunities and mental mistakes once again plagued this Cowboys team, but they continued to scratch and claw their way in a hostile environment to put another "W" in the win column.
With the game still fresh in our minds, I thought it would be a good time to share with you what I believed was The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly for the Dallas Cowboys yesterday against the Atlanta Falcons. As always, please feel free to share your own thoughts and opinions in the comment section located at the end of the article.
It should come to no surprise after the way he's played these last couple weeks, but I decided to go with Running Back Ezekiel Elliott for the good this week for the Dallas Cowboys. I could have easily gone with Linebacker Leighton Vander Esch because he was definitely deserving as well, but for me Zeke edged him out by a narrow margin.
Ezekiel Elliott put the team on his back Sunday afternoon and led them to a victory, just like he did a week ago against the Philadelphia Eagles. He pretty much was the Cowboys offense yesterday, accounting for more than 200 total yards by himself. He not only finished the game as the leading rusher with 122 yards on the ground and a touchdown, but the leading receiver as well with seven catches for 79 yards.
Zeke has been absolutely dominating here recently and hopefully he can keep it up with the division rival Washington Redskins coming to town on Thanksgiving. It's a game that will likely determine the outcome of the NFC East division.
He may have made the game-winning field goal, but Kicker Brett Maher's inconsistency here lately is the bad this week for the Dallas Cowboys in my opinion. His missed extra point attempt against the Falcons came very close to costing them the victory, and I wouldn't be surprised if we see a few kickers brought in Monday on a tryout basis.
Over the past several years we've kind of been spoiled by having Dan Bailey, one of the most accurate kickers to ever play the game. I believe the Cowboys made the right decision to move on from Bailey earlier this year, especially after seeing the way he's struggled with inconsistency himself in Minnesota. But, Maher's recent struggles is starting to become more and more of a concern.
We've seen too many instances this season where a missed or made field-goal impacts the outcome of the game one way or another. This week they were fortunate enough to come out on top, but just imagine how the NFC division race would look if Maher would've made the one in Washington instead of clanking it on the upright.
I could've easily went with the penalties or mental mistakes in this section this week for the Dallas Cowboys, but I ultimately decided the ugly against the Falcons was Cornerback Chidobe Awuzie being victimized once again. Opposing quarterbacks continue to throw his direction and unfortunately they're finding quite a bit of success.
I hear a lot of fans around Cowboys Nation wanting to see Jourdan Lewis get a shot at starting on the outside over Awuzie, but I don't think that's the right move at this time. I still think Awuzie is playing at a high level, but unfortunately he's just been the victim of some really good catches by receivers he's covering at the time.
Both this week against the Falcons and last week against the Eagles we saw Awuzie with tight coverage on Julio Jones and Alshon Jeffrey, but unfortunately it wasn't enough to prevent the completion from happening. That's just been the way things have gone for him this season. If he can learn to get his head around and locate the ball, he would find much more success and not be targeted as much.
What is your Good, Bad, and Ugly for the Dallas Cowboys against the Falcons?
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