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Game Notes

Cowboys vs Rams – ITS Staff Picks and Previews

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Cowboys vs Rams - ITS Staff Picks and Previews

It’s time for week four in the NFL, and that means your Dallas Cowboys will host the Los Angeles Rams at AT&T Stadium this Sunday. The game starts at noon CDT and is shaping up to be another test for the Cowboys.

So far, through three weeks, the Cowboys have really spanned the spectrum of play.

  1. NYG – Decent to solid offensive effort, defense was beyond expectations
  2. @ DEN – Offense was horrible, defense faltered under that pressure
  3. @ ARI – Offense started slow, then got hot, defense was solid

Ezekiel Elliott didn’t crush it, with only 80 yards, but he was effective enough. The holes weren’t there early but the more this offensive line plays together, in their new configuration for 2017, the better Zeke’s running lanes will be.

Dak Prescott wasn’t at top form either, at least not to start the game. But the sophomore team captain showed us that he is capable of leading this team. In the second quarter, he  saved a dying play by tucking the ball away and sprinting 10 yards to the endzone. He was perfectly vertical when he crossed the goal line.

It actually looked a bit scary at first, but Dak’s head never touched the ground. It was perhaps the most stunning display of leadership on his part that I’ve seen. That play lit a fire under his team’s ass and they came out in the second half ready to win the game.

Better late than never, right?

The defense was consistent throughout the game last week. As the offense started rolling, the Cardinals played from behind, giving the Cowboys defensive line exactly what they wanted; Carson Palmer holding the ball too long. DeMarcus Lawrence had three sacks, Maliek Collins had two.

The Cowboys were behind in yards and time of possession in the end, and still won 28-17.

I don’t know what we’re going to see from the Cowboys this week. They haven’t exactly been the picture of consistency. For that matter, I don’t know what we can expect to see from the Rams; players have stepped up this season. We’ll see if that continues.

What I do know is that this offensive line needs to get it together. It was a practiced and cohesive unit last year, but the changes at left guard and right tackle set them back to square one. Dak has to be ready to be that spark again. Zeke needs to continue pounding and keep his spirits up. Dez Bryant needs to run north-south for a change. And this defense needs to continue applying pressure, which could be vital to their success according to the analysts over at Sports Betting Dime.

Accomplish all of that and the Rams won’t stand a chance. But if Zack Martin continues expecting La’el Collins to act like Doug Free, and if Tyron Smith and Travis Frederick continue to expect Chaz Green to act like Ron Leary or La’el, then it’s going to be another slow start.

As always, I encourage you to add your own predictions for the game in our comments section below.

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Week 3’s 2nd Half Carries Over to Week 4

After getting challenged in the first half at Arizona, the Dallas Cowboys pick up right where they left off in the second half and jump out to a quick lead. Los Angeles, though an improved team, is forced to play catch-up throughout the game allowing Dallas’ now-dominant pass rush to make life difficult for Jared Goff and company. John Williams – @john9williams

Cowboys 31 – Rams 21

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Battering Ram Ezekiel Elliott Runs Wild

I’m expecting Ezekiel Elliott and the Dallas Cowboys running game to get back on track this week against the Los Angeles Rams. The Rams defense has struggled against the run so far this season, which plays right into the hands of the Cowboys. Defensively, DeMarcus Lawrence will continue to harass the QB and hopefully force Jared Goff into a mistake or two. Brian Martin – @bmart0204

Cowboys 27 – Rams 16

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Rams WRs Keep It Close, Cowboys Keep The W

It seemed like the Dallas Cowboys were back on track after a slow start versus the Cardinals. I expect them to get some points on the board again. I think the Rams will keep it close though. Kupp, Woods and Watkins will definitely give this secondary a tough time. Mauricio Rodriguez – @PepoR99

Cowboys 27 – Rams 21

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All About The Offenses

For the first time this year, the Dallas Cowboys score 30 points. And, in the end, they need every single one of those points. The Rams offense has looked much improved under Sean McVay this season, and the Cowboys defense is still working in some very new pieces. The Cowboys should be able to run the ball effectively against Los Angeles, and score enough points to win this shootout. Kevin Brady – @KevinBrady88

Cowboys 30 – Rams 28

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134 Picks Later…

The Cowboys proved a lot about the strength of their team in Monday night’s win at Arizona. Now, the next test for Dallas remains in the NFC West, as the Cowboys must return home and show some consistency on both sides of the ball against a tough, confident, and well-rested Rams team. I expect the Cowboys defense to struggle at times Sunday, but a breakout game from Dez Bryant and Dak Prescott helps the Cowboys offense carry them to 3-1 on this young season. Sean Martin – @ShoreSportsNJ

Cowboys 31 – Rams 24

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Silence of the Rams

The Cowboys seemed to find their identity again in the second half in Arizona. That’s bad news for a Rams defense that gave up over 200 rushing yards to Washington’s mediocre backfield. I expect Zeke to have his first big game of the year and Dallas to look more like their 2016 selves. Jess Haynie – @CowboysAddicts

Cowboys 31 – Rams 20

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Ramming 3-1 Into Existence

The Rams are not a tough matchup for Dallas, not compared to others this season. While the Cowboys defense–as injury riddled as they are–will be tested, the offense should have enough room to wiggle through for the victory. Bryson Treece – @BrysonTreece

Cowboys 24 – Rams 13

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So there you have it. The ITS crew is pretty solid behind the Cowboys this week and I think there’s a good chance we see a different Dallas team than we saw to start at Denver and Arizona.

Share your game picks below and, as always, Go Cowboys!

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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.

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2 Comments
  • Russ_Te

    The Rams are upstart this year and have been drafting high for years, and I doubt the Cowboys will be discounting that. If Dallas brings the B game, this is a dogfight.

    But I think it’s the A game with the exception of secondary struggles – the Cowboys just have to work through that for 1st half of the year or so.

    Dallas 28-24

  • Russ_Te

    Don’t think I’ve ever seen Linehan run a hook & lateral. They are very rare in the modern game and nobody is looking for it. Witten or Beasley runs the hook, Elliott trails the play and catches the lateral in stride. Gotta see it sometime…

Game Notes

Takeaway Tuesday: Awuzie and Lewis Impress, Concerns Around Dez Bryant

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Takeaway Tuesday: Awuzie and Lewis Impress, Concerns Around Dez Bryant

The Dallas Cowboys headed to New York a couple of days ago with a mission: survive a potential trap game versus a 2-10 New York Giants team. Despite not getting most of the help they needed from other teams around the league, at least Dallas was able to do the job they could control.

Through three quarters, the Cowboys struggled a lot. It wasn’t until the fourth quarter when they decided to have a touchdown party, outscoring the Giants 20-0 in the final eight minutes of the game.

What did we learn from the Cowboys’ seventh win of the season? Here is this week’s edition of Takeaway Tuesday! 

Dak Prescott Bounced Back

Although the Cowboys are a team that’s barely breathing in the playoff race, the truth is there’re a lot of ways that Dak has improved as a QB. It’s easy to look at a team lose football games and blame the QB without hesitating. That’s been the case most of the season.

It’s fair to say that Prescott hadn’t had an awesome game in a long time, though. But this time, he did just that.

Film Room: How Dak Prescott Beat The Giants' Blitz

Dak Prescott needed a performance like this one. He threw for 332 yards and three touchdowns last Sunday. He made some key throws and key reads during the game and managed to beat the Giants’ blitz with ease. Glad to see you hush the haters, 4.

Certainly a good thing to see when you need to go 3-0 in order to stay in the postseason conversation.

Concerns Around Dez Bryant Continue to Increase

Listen, I love Dez Bryant. He’s been one of my favorite players to ever watch. But at some point, you have to start admitting there is a problem. Yes, Dez Bryant has been struggling this season. Whether you want to blame Dak or Dez about it, it’s fair. I think they both are to blame.

The thing about Dez is that he can have quite a few bad plays and makes you forget about it when he  does something awesome. A perfect example of this is his 50-yard TD against the Giants last Sunday. It came at a perfect moment, but he had dropped some easy balls earlier in the game.

Dez – Streamable

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Dez is getting paid like an elite WR, and despite some great moments on the field, he’s been having a lot of bad ones lately. If you have a $70M contract, you can’t frequently drop passes like that.

It may be about chemistry with his new QB, it may be about age, or it may be just about a couple of bad years for the guy. Whatever it is, as much as we hate to say it, Dez isn’t anywhere close to the “top receivers” conversation this year.

Sean Lee Proved to be Invaluable Once Again

Less Is More For Sean Lee And Cowboys' LBs?I’m constantly amazed by the difference the Cowboys’ veteran linebacker makes when he’s on the field. In his heroic return against the Giants, he finished the day with 18 total tackles, 10 of which were solo. With Sean Lee on the field, this defense has been able to be a headache for opposing offenses.

Sean Lee could easily be this team’s MVP. For Cowboys Nation, it’s been a season of constantly missing football players in Dallas. Out of everyone, I think Sean Lee is the player we missed the most. Including Ezekiel Elliott.

This defense transforms into a very capable one with Lee around. The Cowboys need Zeke back if they want to have success in their hunt for the playoffs, but without Lee, they wouldn’t stand a chance.

Chidobe Awuzie, Jourdan Lewis Are Still Killing It

Coming into this game, one of the biggest question marks was the cornerback position for Dallas. Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis were going to get the start, and there’s always uncertainty around rookies going up against a QB like Eli Manning.

lewis – Streamable

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Look at that coverage by Jourdan Lewis. Look at him turn his head around when the ball’s coming. The way this secondary will grow is exciting to think about. The Cowboys have something special in these two guys. They’ll make for an amazing CB duo for years to come, and I’m excited about what they bring to the table.

Chidobe Awuzie has played the last two games, and he’s been very impressive. Throughout the entire game, his converge was pretty impressive. Eli only targeted him 5 times in the ballgame and was able to complete just two passes against him.

Sean Lee ended up with the interception late in the fourth quarter, but it was perfectly set up by Chidobe Awuzie.

Awuzie – Streamable

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It was a very fun fourth quarter for the Dallas Cowboys, and even though it looks difficult… this football team’s playoff hopes are still alive. Jason Garrett must keep this team focused in the Oakland Raiders for now, though.

Hope dies last, Cowboys Nation. Keep your head up.

Tell me what you think about “Takeaway Tuesday: Awuzie and Lewis Impress, Concerns Around Dez Bryant” in the comments below, or tweet me @PepoR99 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

Forget Elliott For Now, Cowboys Must Focus On Raiders

Kevin Brady

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Despite looking dead to rights just two weeks ago, back to back wins have put the Dallas Cowboys into the playoff hunt with just three games remaining.

In order to even have a chance at sneaking in as the sixth seed, Dallas will need to win each of its remaining games to finish 10-6. In some ways, the playoffs started two weeks ago when Dallas took on the Washington Redskins. But even though this Sunday’s contest is another must-win, elimination game for the Cowboys, it’s also a classic “trap” or “look ahead” game as well.

Before the season started, most expected the Oakland Raiders to be competing for AFC supremacy. Like the Cowboys, Oakland bursted onto the scene in 2016 with a young quarterback, a dynamic offense, and an exciting roster. But, like the Cowboys, they have faltered a bit this season due to underperforming stars, injuries, and a somewhat undermanned defensive unit.

The Raiders are now 6-7, and while still alive in the AFC West race, saw their best shot at overtaking the division go up in a smoke last Sunday as they were demolished by the Kansas City Chiefs.

Simply put, the Raiders are not a very good football team right now. And though this will be a road game for the Cowboys, it is one they should win if they are truly a playoff team. In fact, it’s one they have to win if they want to keep their slim playoff chances alive.

The reason why this could potentially be a “trap” game of sorts is who the Cowboys are scheduled to play after traveling to Oakland. A team who has been a perennial playoff contender in the NFC, and a team directly in front of the Cowboys in the current NFC standings – the Seattle Seahawks.

Not only will that Seattle game be massively important to the Cowboys if they can sneak out of Oakland with a victory, it will also feature the return of star running back Ezekiel Elliott from his six game suspension.

December 24th will be a huge day in Dallas if the Cowboys can get to 8-6 this week, but they can ill-afford to look ahead to that potentially important showdown with the Seahawks. Because if they do and the Raiders upset them at the home in primetime, the Cowboys season will end before Elliott even gets the chance to come back.

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Game Notes

Film Room: How Dak Prescott Beat The Giants’ Blitz

Kevin Brady

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Film Room: How Dak Prescott Beat The Giants' Blitz

While much of Sunday’s victory over the New York Giants featured some ugly football from the Dallas Cowboys, the team continued to fight until completing a 20 point route of their division rivals.

Of course, stars emerged on both the offense and the defense throughout the game. Rod Smith had a breakout day, Dez Bryant made a couple of “vintage” plays, and Sean Lee returned to health and led the defense to a fantastic performance.

But as we all know, quarterbacks make the world go ’round. And no matter how great the other pieces play, it’s hard to win football games unless you can maintain high level quarterback play.

Dak Prescott returned to that high level against the Giants on Sunday.

Even if Prescott is missing throws or having accuracy issues, he had never lost his composure or made the wrong reads until that Atlanta Falcons debacle. I really believe that Dak lost faith in his protection, began abandoning clean pockets, and ended up having a few bad games in a row.

All seems right with Prescott now, as he threw for over 300 yards and three touchdowns during the Cowboys’ big win. The area he was most impressive, was with those reads – specifically against the blitz.

dalvsnyg dak to dez td – Streamable

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On his first touchdown pass of the game, Dak Prescott beats the blitz perfectly. Just before snapping the ball, Prescott notices the safety roll down into the box. You can see him subtly move his arm to point out the safety, while calling it out to his linemen as well.

As soon as he gets the snap, Dak knows exactly where to go. The Giants tried to beat him with a delayed safety blitz, but once that safety comes, Prescott knows he has Dez Bryant in man coverage on the perimeter.

His eyes immediately snap that way, and his throw replaces the blitzer quickly. This allows Bryant to do the rest, and the Cowboys to tie the game.

dalvsnyg 17 cole beasley – Streamable

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Later in the game we see more of the same from Dak Prescott. With the game tied at 10 the Cowboys faced a critical third down backed up in their own territory. The Giants once again show blitz, bring the  blitz, and Dak burns them for it.

The Giants show man coverage across the board pre-snap, with safety Landon Collins on the near hash. Cole Beasley is in the near-slot, and while he technically has a man over him directly, the Giants show 2-over-1 in the slot pre-snap. This usually tips off a blitz, as the Giants plan to bring their slot defender off the edge, and allow Landon Collins to cover Beasley one on one.

Prescott notices this pre-snap once again, and makes the defense pay. He quickly replaces the blitzer with his throw, allowing Beasley to make the easy catch underneath and then do the rest after the catch.

This may not seem all the difficult to do to those analyzing the game the next morning, but these reads indicate high level quarterback-ing from the Cowboys’ franchise leader, Dak Prescott.

Last season against the Giants, their defense was able to bring more than the Cowboys could block on key third downs a few times. Too often, Prescott and the passing offense could not beat those blitzes.

That was not the case this week at all.

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