The Cowboys are now faced with their most difficult portion of the 2008 schedule. If you have been listening to the national and local media I am sure you have heard that Dallas has no chance of winning this game! Most claim that Pittsburgh is just far too superior of a team to lose at home in December to the Cowboys. I must admit that Pittsburgh has an excellent team, but they are by no means unbeatable! I can even show you that they may be the Dallas of the north.
I keep hearing about how good Pittsburgh is! I believe and the numbers will show that Pittsburgh has the best defense in the league, but after that they have not shown much. When I began my research on this game I wanted to be as unbiased as possible. So I decided to look at the last five games from both teams, comparing opponent win/loss records, rush/pass yards both for and against, turnovers both for and against, sacks for and against. I then looked at scoring averages over the year, splitting them up into wins versus losses. I also looked at their season total numbers. I did all of these things to see if I could figure out exactly what happens to cause these teams to lose, and if there is a difference between the two teams. What I found was that I no longer am as concerned as I was about being able to win this game. This is a very winnable game!
First of all the notion that Dallas is winning because they have not played anyone is absolutely ridiculous. In the last 5 games Dallas went 4-1; Pittsburgh also went 4-1. Dallas played two teams below .500 records (49ers, Seattle), Pittsburgh played two as well (Chargers, Bengals). Pittsburgh's loss came to a 5-4 Colts team, while Dallas fell to a 7-1 Giants team. I might add the only Dallas loss was without Tony Romo! The combined records of the Steelers last 5 opponents was 23-27, while the Cowboys opponents were 23-26. As far as this blogger is concerned these two teams are dead equal when it comes to strength of schedule! If we were the BCS Dallas would be ranked ahead of Pittsburgh as their one loss was to the #1 team on the road, while Pittsburgh lost at home to a lesser team.
Now let's look at each team's defense over the last five. Dallas has given up on an average 89.2 yards per game on the ground, while Pittsburgh has given up 70.6. Edge Pittsburgh
Dallas has given up on an average 225.4 passing yards per game, while Pittsburgh has given up 189.4.
In the creating pressure (sacks) category Dallas has averaged 3.8 sacks per game, while Pittsburgh has averaged 3.4 sacks per game.
Edge slightly towards Dallas but really close to even
In the turnover Category Dallas has averaged 1.8 turnovers per game, while Pittsburgh has averaged 2.0 per game.
Edge slightly towards Pitt but really close to even
Now in these five games what was the scoring difference you ask? Well in these 5 games the Cowboys allowed 17 points per game average, Pittsburgh allowed 13.2 points per game average.
Edge Pittsburgh but much closer than anyone thought!
The third quarter though is where Pittsburgh's defense really clamps down, over the last 5 games they have averaged allowing only 0.6 points in that quarter! WOW! Through all the other quarters Dallas's defense holds their opponents at the same rate the Steelers do. This will be a key area to keep an eye on come Sunday.
On the offensive side of the ball the Cowboys have been running it on average of 91.6 yards per game, while Pitt averages 105 yards per game ( I would like to note that they rushed for only 55 yards against the worst rush defense in the league in the Colts).
Edge slightly to Pitt only because they have two quality running backs and Dallas does not know what it has yet with Tashard Choice
Dallas has averaged 225.2 yards per game passing (2 of these games was with Captain Ass Bag, since Romo has returned this ave. is now 290 ypg) while Pitt has averaged 238.6 per game.
Edge Dallas and it is not even close since the return of Romo, without Romo it is Pitt all the way. Fortunately Romo will be playing Sunday!
In the turnover category Dallas has averaged 1.6 per game (once again half of their turnovers were without Romo this average drops to 1.3 with Romo) Pitt has averaged 1.2 per game.
Sacks allowed Dallas has averaged 1.6 per game (have only allowed 1 sack since the return of Romo for an avg. of .3 per game) Pitt has allowed 2.4 per game (5 in the last 3 weeks for an average of 1.66 per game) on the year Dallas has allowed only 18 with Pitt allowing 36. Watch this very closely Sunday!
Edge Heavily in Dallas's favor
Scoring over the last 5 Dallas is averaging 22.0 points per game (27.6 since Romo's return) Pitt is averaging 22.8 over the last 5 (23.6 over the last 3).
Edge Dallas too much Romo
To take this scoring thing a little bit further lets look at what each team has done in their wins versus their losses:
- Dallas, in the 8 wins they have avg. 27.9 ppg while allowing 16.9 ppg
- Dallas in their 4 losses has avg. 19.0 ppg while allowing 31.5 ppg
- Pitt in their 9 wins has avg. 25.4 ppg while allowing 12.2 ppg
- Pitt in their 3 losses has avg. 13.3 ppg while allowing 20.0 ppg
I could go on and on with this all day long but I am sure you are all tired of looking at all of this. The point I am trying to make here is that Pittsburgh and Dallas are two of the most evenly matched teams. Dallas's strength lies with the Big O and Pittsburgh's strength lies with the Defense. At no point during my research have I seen anything that tells me Dallas cannot win and that Pittsburgh is superior. The keys of the game will be the following not necessarily in this order:
- Protect Romo
- Force their LB's to cover
- Score early and often
- Limit stupid Turnovers
- Spread them out create mismatches
- Contain Parker and Moore
- Pressure, Pressure, and more Pressure
- Put Big Ben in 3rd and long situations
- Mix up coverage's
- Enjoy the moment and have fun
I hope I have proven to all you Cowboy fans that this team is good enough to win on Sunday, and that Pittsburgh is nothing to be scared of! Also keep an eye out over the next day or so as there will be another installment of the 5 question preview coming!
Takeaway Tuesday: Cole Beasley is Your Interim WR1
Watching the Dallas Cowboys beat the Jacksonville Jaguars 40-7 was undoubtedly fun for Cowboys Nation. There were not many positive expectations for the Cowboys heading into this game but both the defense and offense put on impressive performances at home in an attempt to remain serious contenders within the NFC East.
We learned a few things about the Dallas Cowboys last Sunday as they beat one of the top defenses in the NFL. Let's talk about in this week's edition of Takeaway Tuesday!
Cole Beasley Is Your Interim WR1
The Cowboys have yet to find their #1 wide receiver, but Cole Beasley is making a serious statement looking like the most reliable target in Dallas. Being 5'8 and a slot receiver doesn't really help Beasley's case to be the #1 guy, but he's making plays.
Last Sunday, he was the only wide receiver on the team with more than one catch. The other player with more than one reception was Geoff Swaim, who only got his hands on the ball twice. Beasley finished the day with nine receptions for 101 yards and two touchdown catches. The Cowboys need other WRs to step up but in the meantime, let Beasley put the sauce on opposing defenses. Hopefully he continues to hurt defenses like he did versus the Jaguars' feared secondary.
The team still needs a guy who can be a consistent threat on the outside, though. Third-round rookie Michael Gallup could develop into that, but he isn't there yet. We'll have to wait and see. Meanwhile, it's all Beasley.
Bright Future for the Defensive Line
Blake Bortles was sacked three times by the so-called "Hot Boyz" last weekend. To be quite honest, the future for this defensive line looks brightest than it ever has. The return of Maliek Collins and David Irving to the field were desperately needed for this defense to take the next step. Collins and Irving were somewhat limited, but their snap counts will surely increase as the season continues.
A lot of little details went into this sack from Maliek Collins. From his alignment pre-snap to his timing on the spin, it was a beautiful display of rushing the passer by @SavageSevv. https://t.co/CYcfLH6AfB
Randy Gregory also got limited snaps versus the Jaguars, but he was able to make an impact either way. He finished the day with one sack, two hits and one QB hurry. I can't wait until these guys' snaps increase. This should be a very scary unit for opposing quarterbacks.
Dak Prescott's Stats Don't Reflect His Performance
The Jaguars are the best defense this team has faced and yet it's been the offense's best performance. Dak Prescott's passing stats may not look great, but his play was. Even though he failed to cross the 200 yard mark on the air, he rushed for 82 yards and kept Jacksonville's defense honest. Dak has faced a lot of criticism this year and will likely continue to do so.
Even still, we've seen him ball out on various occasions now. Dak can play. He may not be an elite passer, in fact he's far from being that, but he can make this offense work if they play to his strengths.
We've heard players talk about "turning the corner" in Dallas. Cowboys Nation should hope that is the case. What's more frustrating than watching an offense being unable to move the chains and score touchdowns, is knowing they could do it with a better execution and play-calling. Thanks to players like Dak, Ezekiel Elliott and Cole Beasley, there's a silver lining for the Cowboys' offense.
Inconsistency is the Problem for Cowboys
Simply put, this is not the team we had witnessed in the first five weeks of the season. Even in the two prior wins this year, the Dallas Cowboys had not looked dominant at all. Specifically the offense. They hadn't faced a defense as tough as the Jaguars', but they were able to drop 40 on them. Now granted, they did it with the help of the defense, but still. We hadn't seen this version of the Cowboys.
Even with a 40-7 win over the Jaguars, it is tough to imagine Dallas will keep this up as the season continues. Hopefully, they do and I'm wrong about this. They need to be more consistent if they want to end up surprising the NFC East and walk away with the division title.
Although they got the big win, they still left points on the field and fail to execute for touchdowns in the second half. Even when the defense forced turnovers. In close games, this cost you wins in the NFL. The Cowboys can't afford to lose many more games, even in a weak division.
CB Jourdan Lewis Finally Looks Himself In Cowboys’ Blowout Win
The Cowboys' up and down start to 2018 has been full of both positives and negatives, but the one player everyone can agree on and be excited about has been Byron Jones. And, overall, the one position group Cowboys fans have been excited about through six week are the cornerbacks.
Heading into the preseason, fans could not wait to see Jones and Chidobe Awuzie on the outside, with Jourdan Lewis patrolling the slot. It was Anthony Brown, however, who won that slot cornerback role during training camp, and through the first few weeks of the season Jourdan Lewis was nowhere to be found on defense.
Due to an ankle injury which sidelined Chidobe Awuzie for Sunday's game, Lewis finally got his shot to shine. Playing primarily on the boundary as the outside cornerback in Awuzie's absence, Jourdan Lewis looked like his rookie year self against the Jaguars.
Though Lewis was not credited with a pass defense during the game, he did make two tackles, and remained disciplined in coverage all afternoon. Jourdan Lewis also made a fantastic play on the first third down of the game, breaking on the receiver and joining forces with Byron Jones to force the Jags' first 3 and out.
Check out this video on Streamable using your phone, tablet or desktop.
Lewis also recovered a fumble forced by linebacker Jaylon Smith, making his impact felt throughout the game.
Another area where Jourdan Lewis excelled on Sunday was as a blitzer. The Cowboys have been more apt to blitz on third downs with Kris Richard calling the shots these days, and Lewis (like Awuzie) provides value as a blitzing defensive back.
It's unclear what the Cowboys' plan will be for Jourdan Lewis moving forward. He's too talented to simply waste away on the bench, but he is at his best as an outside cornerback, where the Cowboys currently have two starters that better fit Richard's mold.
While Awuzie is injured Lewis can provide a more-than-adequate fill in, but you have to wonder if they can develop him into a slot cornerback to replace Anthony Brown in the future. Plus, Brown has had a nice bounce back season thus far himself.
The Cowboys suddenly have a surplus of talented young cornerbacks on their roster. Hopefully competition will bring out the best in all four players, including Jourdan Lewis.
The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly for Cowboys Against Jaguars
I don't know what you were personally expecting Sunday afternoon when the Dallas Cowboys squared off against the Jacksonville Jaguars, but I think it's safe to say what happened was a pleasant surprise. The Cowboys not only beat the Jaguars 40-7, but they did so in an absolutely dominant fashion. Hopefully, this is just a sign of things to come.
The Dallas Cowboys will go on the road this week in a matchup with their division rival, the Washington Redskins, in a game that could ultimately decide who wins the NFC East division. But before we get into any discussion about the Redskins, let's talk about The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly for the Cowboys against the Jaguars.
As always, please feel free to share any of your opinions about what I chose for each category in this article. I also encourage you to share your own good, bad, and ugly in the comment section located at the bottom. I enjoy hearing all of your feedback and look forward to reading what you have to say.
In a game where just about everything fell just right for the Dallas Cowboys, it was a little difficult to narrow down exactly what I wanted to put in this category. It was a great all-around team effort, so I didn't want to go with an individual. Ultimately, I decided the good for the Cowboys against the Jaguars had to be awarded to the entire offense.
All last week I was trying to figure out how the Cowboys were going to move the ball against the Jaguars top-ranked defense. Jacksonville's defense was ranked No. 1 in the passing game and in total defense. I thought if the Cowboys had a chance it would be on the ground where the Jaguars were just ranked 14th against the run. Boy was I shocked at what took place Sunday afternoon.
The Cowboys offense not only moved the ball on the ground with Quarterback Dak Prescott (83 yards rushing) and Running Back Ezekiel Elliott (106 yards rushing), but also found success in the passing game. Prescott and Wide Receiver Cole Beasley connected with one another nine times for 101 receiving yards and two touchdowns. Overall, it was quite impressive to see the Cowboys put up 40 points against one of the league's best defenses.
For a change, finding something to put in this section this week was extremely difficult. The Dallas Cowboys pretty much played a flawless game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, so I decided the bad had to be that because they played so well our expectations should be for them to continue to play at this level. After all, if they can put up 40 points on the NFL's best defense, why shouldn't this kind of dominance continue.
The sad truth is, we have already seen the Cowboys offense raise our expectations once this season. After the phenomenal performance against the Detroit Lions earlier this season we expected them to pick up where they left off the next few weeks against the Seahawks and Texans. Unfortunately, we know how they played in both of those contest, so we should probably temper our expectations a little.
I don't know about you, but I'm trying not to get too excited about what took place Sunday afternoon against the Jaguars. I'm really hoping that the entire offense is finally starting to click and that Offensive Coordinator Scott Linehan has figured out how to use his playmakers to the best of their abilities. But for now, we will just have to hope that this bad will actually turn out to be a good.
I really liked what I've seen for the Dallas Cowboys defense this season, but I absolutely loved how ugly they made the Jacksonville Jaguars offense look Sunday afternoon. This defense is playing at a championship level and they aren't quite receiving the recognition as of yet that they probably deserve. But, that could change if they continue to play the way they did against the Jaguars.
Jacksonville's offense had a tough time getting anything going Sunday against the Cowboys defense. They barely had over 200 total yards of total offense and I lost count of how many three and outs they had. What I loved the most though were the turnovers the Cowboys forced. Turnovers have been pretty nonexistent so far this season, so it was good to see that change against the Jaguars.
I honestly can't say enough good things about the Dallas Cowboys defense and how they've played this season. I'm just hoping they are able to do the same against this week's opponent, the Washington Redskins. With the NFC East division up for grabs, how the defense plays against the Redskins could impact the outcome of this game and help secure the division title.
What is your good, bad, and ugly for the Dallas Cowboys against the Jaguars?
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