What a week! Sure has been a busy one for Cowboys fans, and at the center of it all is the Cowboys star WR, Dez Bryant. If you've somehow managed to miss out on the chaos of this week, then by all means, remain out of the loop. After all, ignorance is bliss.
All I'll say is Bryant is likely to miss this week after discovering a hairline fracture in his knee. Nothing shows it's a serious injury, not sure sure, at least as far as breaks go, but the team appears to be playing it safe. That means everybody's favorite Cowboy to hate, Terrance Williams, along with Cole Beasley and Brice Butler will get more opportunities, and we're going to need them.
Staff Writer RJ Ochoa broke it down for us yesterday on #OchoLive. The rivalry between the Dallas Cowboys and the San Francisco 49ers goes all the way back to the merger, and was drenched in drama year after year. That all sort of wound down in the mid-to-late 90s, but those of us who witnessed the rivalry first-hand still have some special thoughts for the 49ers.
Cowboys at 49ers Watching Party in Dallas
They're throwing a game watching party today at the Go 4 It Sports Grill in Dallas, TX. There'll be drinks, food, and (hopefully) some smash-mouth Cowboys football, starting just before the game. I'll be there (Bryson Treece), along with @bmagg86 (Bethany) and anyone else who wants to have a beer with us.
The address is 10677 E Northwest Hwy #400, Dallas, TX 75238 in the Lake Highlands area of Dallas (click the previous link for the Google Map lookup). All are welcome!
Alright, let's get to it.
Inside #TheStar Staff Notes And Predictions
Brian Martin | @bmart0204
This is a particularly difficult game to predict because of all the injuries and banged up key players for the Dallas Cowboys. We know Dez Bryant isn't going to play, so the entire offense will need to step up their game against the 49ers. On defense, it'll be all about containing Carlos Hyde. I don't think it will be pretty but I still have the Cowboys coming out on top on the road against the 49ers Sunday afternoon.
Cowboys 24 - 49ers 13
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Kevin Brady | @kevinbrady88
This game is going to be a lot closer than others seem to think. Going on the road, the Cowboys will potentially be without Tyron Smith, La'el Collins, and Dez Bryant on offense, and Orlando Scandrick on defense. That's 4 Pro Bowl-quality players, so this game will be no joke. In the end, Dallas squeaks it out on the road, getting an ugly win and improving to 3-1.
Cowboys 23 - 49ers 17
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John Williams | @john9williams
Dallas continues to move the ball well on offense, led by their explosive rushing attack. The defense makes enough plays to take home their third straight win.
Cowboys 27 - 49ers 17
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Ian Koplowitz | @BleedingTheStar
The Cowboys offense is good at running. The 49ers defense is bad at defending the run. The Cowboys like to run the ball. Catch my drift? In all seriousness, I expect the Cowboys to take the air out of the ball all afternoon, leading to a solid showing from Ezekiel Elliott as he runs to another 100-yard game.
Cowboys 24 - 49ers 17
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Justin Grohowski | @grohowknowhow
Dallas will most likely be without their three best players Sunday (Tony Romo, Dez Bryant, and Tyron Smith). Throw in other injuries to Orlando Scandrick and La'el Collins, and you have to wonder if a rookie quarterback can truly overcome all of these hurdles. Speaking of hurdles, it will help to have Ezekiel Elliott against a weak San Francisco front that conceded 100-yard days to backup running backs the past two weeks. Facing Blaine Gabbert and a lackluster offense doesn't hurt either. Dallas will key in on Carlos Hyde, and pick off Gabbert twice here, as the secondary shines. Brice Butler plays well, and Lucky Whitehead gets more touches. In the end, Dallas pulls off a an ugly win despite struggling to stretch the field.
Cowboys 20 - 49ers 17
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Sean Martin | @ShoreSportsNJ
A win for the Dallas Cowboys in San Francisco would go beyond the 3-1 start that it would secure through four games without Tony Romo. The Cowboys could also be playing without Dez Bryant and Tyron Smith, yet I still think they have enough to get the job done. This defensive line turns in their best performance of the season to slow down Carlos Hyde, as Maliek Collins adds his first career sack. From there, Dak Prescott and the Dallas running game keep the winning streak alive.
Cowboys 17 - 49ers 13
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Jess Haynie | @CowboysAddicts
The 49ers and Cowboys defenses are ranked 20th & 22nd. The game will be decided by offenses; Cowboys 8th, Niners 29th. Dallas will use their same clock-domination formula and superior offensive firepower to get the road win.
Cowboys 30 - 49ers 20
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RJ Ochoa | @RJOchoa
The Cowboys showed us last week they're capable of dominating an inferior team, and the 49ers are an inferior team. I expect San Francisco's Carlos Hyde to look good and keep things spicy for a while, but Zeke Elliott is going to break this game open and put it away when it matters.
Cowboys 23 - 49ers 16
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Bryson Treece | @BrysonTreece
Momentum is the word of the day. The Cowboys will either keep it going with three in a row, or lose it along with this game. The injuries are stacking up, from the secondary to the offensive line, but the rookies have been finding a groove these last two weeks. Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott have looked better each week of the season, gaining confidence and building momentum. I don't consider this game the gimme that the Bears game was, but I do see the 'Boys beating the 49ers.
Cowboys 20 - 49ers 10
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And that's all she wrote, folks.
Kickoff is in less than four hours and we're all decidedly against the 49ers winning today. Do you agree? Drop us a line in the comments and tell us your win/loss and score prediction.
And don't forget to join me and some other great Cowboys fans at Go 4 It Sports Grill in Dallas. Everyone have a safe, happy game-day, and as always -- GO COWBOYS!
Cowboys, Redskins Week 7 Injury Report
Though it's still early in the 2018 season, the lead in the NFC East is up for grabs when the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins meet this Sunday. Both teams would like their full roster available for the game, but the Week 7 injury reports indicate that won't be the case.
Here are the players either confirmed to be out of action tomorrow or are otherwise listed by Dallas and Washington:
- WR Tavon Austin (groin) - OUT
- LB Joe Thomas (foot) - OUT
- CB Chidobe Awuzie (ankle) - Questionable
The Cowboys are getting healthier, with Sean Lee finally off the injury report and set to return to action. Not only will Dallas get their elite linebacker back, but it means a deeper rotation while the team remains without Joe Thomas.
Tavon Austin elected to skip season-ending surgery on his injured groin, but his should be out a few weeks. That will put Cole Beasley on punt returns and perhaps create more offensive opportunities for Deonte Thompson and Brice Butler.
Awuzie remains limited in practice but has played the last few weeks despite the ankle injury. There is no reason to think he won't suit up in Washington.
- WR Jamison Crowder (ankle) - OUT
- WR Paul Richardson (shoulder, knee) - Doubtful
- S Troy Apke (hamstring) - Doubtful
- RB Adrian Peterson (ankle, shoulder) - Questionable
- RB Chris Thompson (rib, knee) - Questionable
- G Shawn Lauvao (calf) - Questionable
- CB Quinton Dunbar (shin) - Questionable
- CB Danny Johnson (forearm) - Questionable
It's a rough time for Washington's offensive weapons. They will definitely be without slot receiver Jamison Crowder and likely starter Paul Richardson, who current lead all WRs in receptions. Josh Doctson will put into a major role, as will veteran Brian Quick off the bench.
Peterson and Thompson both practiced this week and should play, but have nagging injuries that could slow them down. Washington is already missing Rob Kelley and rookie Derrius Guice, who are both on injured reserve.
Starting left guard Shawn Lauvao is also nursing a lower leg injury, but practiced in a limited capacity all week. His backup is undrafted rookie Casey Dunn out of Auburn.
In the defensive backfield, starting CB Quinton Dunbar was a Friday addition to the injury report with a shin injury. He did practice with it, though, so will likely play. Backup safety Troy Apke is doubtful with a hamstring issue.
Cowboys Focused on Improved Communication to Solve Road Woes at Redskins
The Dallas Cowboys are 0-3 on the road this season. Not only do you already know this, but they do as well, needing to build off a 40-7 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars in week 6 at AT&T Stadium to claim first place in the NFC East at the Washington Redskins.
Although the Cowboys were given Monday and Tuesday off, they are focused on addressing one alarming reason why the team has struggled so much on the road -- particularly on offense.
Running Back Ezekiel Elliott pointed out the Cowboys lack of communication in early season losses at Carolina, Seattle, and Houston. "Seeing the same thing," was the issue Elliott addressed when discussing the Cowboys knowing their assignments in hostile territory.
Yesterday, Quarterback Dak Prescott told the media of a meeting between players and coaches that addressed this specifically.
Dak Prescott said players & coaches held a meeting before today's practice to "address the elephant in the room," which is poor communication among the offense on the road. "I know we'll take a lot from that conversation," The QB said.
Unlike Prescott's remarks about new "wrinkles" in the Cowboys offense prior to a 26-24 home win over the Lions, this has a tangible sign of progress for an offense that made scoring 40 on the Jaguars look impossibly easy. The Cowboys season high in total yards remains the 414 amassed against Detroit, after which Prescott confessed that he simply tells the media "things" that aren't necessarily true.
The Cowboys didn't necessarily do anything new against the Lions, but they most assuredly will this week against the Redskins, at least by way of signaling and remaining in sync on offense.
Prescott and Elliott's leadership is on full display here, and their on-field impact can be attributed as closely to the Cowboys successes or failures as any duo in the NFL.
Missing is a similar impact from Center Travis Frederick, who remains sidelined as he deals with GSB.
Joe Looney's play at center has been good enough to pave the way for Elliott's 586 rushing yards so far, second to Todd Gurley at 623 yards, but his ability to call checks for the offense is understandably much more limited.
Looney deserves all the credit in the world for his strong play in place of Frederick. The Cowboys have never asked for him to be anything he isn't, a reliable depth option that earned a second contract and with it the starting center job for the time being in Dallas.
He has the full support of his teammates, Frederick included. All of this is lovely to put down in writing until Looney and the Cowboys have been forced to step on the field with the crowd against them and attempt to sustain a drive, something Frederick will unfortunately not be a part of for a long while.
If the Cowboys offense isn't going to unveil new wrinkles in the scheme, there is one wrinkle worth mentioning that's new to the team's communication on offense this season. With Offensive Coordinator Scott Linehan up in the box, his play calls are sent down to first-year Quarterback Coach Kellen Moore, who has been in the ear of Prescott ever since playing with him from 2016-17.
Sure, these are things that could've been addressed before the Cowboys managed only eight points in week one, turned the ball over three times in week three, or punted away their best chance at victory in week five. The best teams in the league likely already have these things down to routine, and few would consider the Cowboys anywhere near the upper echelon of the NFL.
Following sixty minutes of football at a division rival they've won four in a row against, with an even more impressive five game win streak at the Redskins, the Cowboys could control their own path atop the NFC East.
That feels truly incredible for such a young team faced with a steep learning curve early in the season, adjusting to it on the fly as they prepare to leave everything on the field before a bye week.
#WASvsDAL: Why This Game Holds Increased Importance
It feels incredibly cliche to call the week 7 match-up between the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins a "must win." Especially for someone like me who values statistics, logic, and analytics in sports.
But when the analytics agree with the narratives, those narratives do tend to get my attention. And this week that would appear to be the case.
According to Brian Burke of ESPN, the Cowboys's week 7 game has the highest playoff probability leverage in the entire NFC, and is second to only the Houston Texans' big game with Jacksonville around the entire league.
Playoff leverage for week 7. DAL, WAS, PHI, CAR, MIN, CHI with a lot on the line in the NFC. HOU, CIN, and JAX in the AFC.
What does this mean? Well playoff probability leverage is pretty intuitive. Basically it is the difference between a win this week and a loss this week in terms of probability to make the playoffs.
For the Cowboys that number is at 27%, with a win over Washington catapulting their playoff probability over 50%. On the other hand, a loss would take a big hit to their playoff hopes just 7 games into the NFL season.
As you might expect, this game means a lot to the Redskins' playoff probability as well. Their playoff leverage this week is at 14%, but a win would mean "more" to Dallas than Washington based on the probabilities.
Fellow NFC East foe, the Philadelphia Eagles, also have a lot to gain/lose this Sunday, with their leverage sitting at 22%. According to Burke's model, the Eagles and Cowboys have the best chances of making the playoffs at this point, but if each team wins Sunday the Eagles will still have a higher percentage.
Of course a lot can and will change week to week, despite what the metrics say. The Cowboys still have two games remaining with the NFC East favorite Eagles this year, and will get another crack at Washington at home later in the season. Plus the Cowboys have a few NFC wild card and playoff contenders remaining on their schedule, such as the New Orleans Saints and Atlanta Falcons. (Yes, the 2-4 Falcons are very much alive in this crazy conference).
Still, the difference between 4-3 (2-0 in the division) and 3-4 (1-1 in the division) is huge, as is shown by Brian Burke's playoff probability leverage metric.
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