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!
Takeaway Tuesday: Scott Linehan’s Job Shouldn’t Be Safe
The Dallas Cowboys didn't look like they did during their five game winning streak when they entered Lucas Oil Stadium to face a hot Indianapolis Colts team. In fact, they had one of their poorest showings of all season, failing to score a single point all game. Heading home after being shutout 23-0, there isn't much to be said about the Cowboys' performance.
Here's this week's Takeaway Tuesday. This time, instead of talking about many takeaways, I needed to get one big takeaway off my chest. I hope you enjoy. Make sure to let me know how you feel about this topic in the comments section below or tweet me @MauNFL.
Scott Linehan's Job Shouldn't Be Guaranteed Going into the Playoffs
As tough as it is to fire one of your three main coaches when your team is headed into the postseason, the Dallas Cowboys should not rule out moving on from Scott Linehan. One win away from clinching the NFC East, it's not something you easily pull off but Linehan's play calling has been terrible all year long.
The truth is, despite Dak Prescott's struggles and a disastrous offensive line, the offense shouldn't be as inefficient as it is.
Watching a unit that counts with Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup and Ezekiel Elliott run a screen pass to Allen Hurns on fourth down and 14 was truly a microcosm of what this year has been for the offense.
Despite having a playoff berth practically clinched, the Cowboys should consider a change at offensive coordinator. Even if they don't fire Linehan, it's clear his play-calling is not good and could cost this team a real opportunity at a legit shot in the postseason. It would be an aggressive measure, without a doubt. The Minnesota Vikings did something similar by firing John DeFillippo a week ago. Based on their 41-17 win over the Miami Dolphins last Sunday, being aggressive sometimes pays.
The Cowboys have arguably the best running back in the NFL in Ezekiel Elliott and yet they continue to misuse him. Whether it's turning their backs on their star tailback or over-using him, this offense has a hard time reaching balance. Dak Prescott's strengths could be exploited even more, but this OC refuses to do so.
As hard as it is to make a drastic change in coaching two weeks before the regular season ends, it truly could end up being a great move by the front office. Sure, Amari Cooper has had monster games since joining the Cowboys, but he could be even more dangerous under another coach.
Cowboys versus Colts was a coaching battle between Scott Linehan and former Dallas Cowboys LB coach, Matt Eberflus. It was the matchup of the week, and one we expected to be fun. Instead, we saw one side completely dominate the other. In the NFL, coaching matters. Probably even more than talent on a roster.
The biggest problem would be, who'd take over play-calling?
Since there isn't a promising candidate within the team, the team's only option would probably be letting HC Jason Garrett take over. It may not be ideal, but it could end up being an improvement over Linehan. Of course, it could also let the front office see what Garrett has to offer as a play caller and consider that when deciding how this coaching staff will look like in 2019.
It's unlikely that we see such a thing occur for the Cowboys, but if the offense has another letdown game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, I don't see how the front office doesn't at least consider this. They should.
Ezekiel Elliott Productive in Cowboys Blowout Loss to Colts
It was as ugly of a performance as we’ve seen from the Dallas Cowboys in the Jason Garrett era. For the first time in a decade and a half, the Cowboys were shut out and it was a game full of bad pretty much everywhere you looked. Everywhere accept Ezekiel Elliott.
What a waste!
Elliott and the Cowboys offensive line played well for much of the game even with All-Pro Right Guard Zack Martin missing his first career start and losing starting Left Guard Xavier Su’a-Filo went out with an eye injury.
On the day, Ezekiel Elliott carries the ball 18 times for 87 yards and added another seven receptions for 41. 25 touches for 128 total yards is a good game, but with nothing else going right for the Cowboys it was a game that ultimately didn’t matter.
The one play where Elliott and the offensive line failed to come through was early in the game in a fourth and one that the Colts defense seemed to have snuffed out and blew up from the start. Elliott was able to convert a fourth and one later in the game. It looked like Elliott was close to breaking one for a long run several times but got tripped up at the end of the runs. He was his typical self this week. Taking runs that looked to be going for a loss and turning them into positive gains.
In the race for the NFL's rushing title, Elliott has extended his lead on Todd Gurley to nearly 100 yards rushing. At 1,349 rushing yards on the season, Elliott will have a great shot to set a career high in rushing yards with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New York Giants remaining on the schedule. The Bucs have allowed the sixth most rushing yards and the fourth most rushing touchdowns in the NFL this season while the Giants have allowed the fifth most rushing yards and the seventh most rushing touchdowns in 2018.
It was a horrendous loss at a time when the Cowboys could have locked up the NFC East and there is zero excuse for it. They got out coached, out played, and were beaten physically on both sides of the ball and that doesn't happen very often, especially to the defense.
But if we're looking for something positive to take away from this game, it's that with all the offensive line injuries and the poor play of the passing game, Ezekiel Elliott and the running game continues to find ways to shine. With as bad as the loss was, that's something to hang your hat on.
All the Cowboys need to do moving forward is Feed Zeke!
Sean’s Scout: Cowboys Can’t Finish Drives, Division Clinch with Shutout Loss at Colts
What is there to say about the Dallas Cowboys week 15 performance? After five straight wins, the last three coming at home, the Cowboys have only a return home to look forward to, facing the 5-9 Buccaneers on Sunday after a 23-0 defeat at the Colts.
Shutout for the first time since 2003, the Cowboys playoff hopes didn't take a hit despite the Redskins and Eagles winning on the road. Washington's last-second win went final just before the Colts ran the clock out on a game the Cowboys simply weren't ready for.
The Cowboys moved the ball well at times but failed to ever come away with points, opening the door for the Colts to expose this defense like it hasn't been all season. The Cowboys front four was hardly a factor on defense, allowing Colts Running Back Marlon Mack to average 5.1 yards a carry. Scoring the Colts only touchdowns, Mack and Andrew Luck assured the Cowboys running game wouldn't be a factor with their 10-0 halftime lead. Down to three backups at LG, C, and RG, Quarterback Dak Prescott stood little chance to bring the Cowboys back as the second half quickly got away from Dallas.
Internally, the Cowboys will have much more to say about their effort on Sunday, but here are just a few of my observations in the first somber edition of Sean's Scout since week nine.
- The Cowboys defensive problems up front extended well into the second level, with Linebackers Leighton Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith both playing one of their worst games of the season.
The Colts took a blocked Brett Maher field goal 44 yards for the game's opening score. Mack accounted for 34 of these yards and the touchdown. On his seven yard run to set up first and goal, Smith was caught taking a poor angle on Mack. The Cowboys were aggressive rushing up the field on the play, with Smith ending up being in the best position to slow Mack.
Vander Esch was sealed and couldn't fight to get off, which happened again three plays later on third and goal. Leighton looking like a rookie for the first time was just the start of the Cowboys problems, and with Sean Lee being active yet conceding starting snaps to him, it shouldn't take long for Vander Esch to figure things out again.
- Jamize Olawale's dropped touchdown on third and goal to bring up a failed fourth and one was the moment the Cowboys were taken out of this game.
This sequence was particularly deflating because the Cowboys did a great job getting down the field to have an opportunity to score. The fourth down decision to run out of a heavy formation, inviting extra defenders to the line of scrimmage, looks especially egregious when stacked against the Amari Cooper rush that picked up the Cowboys initial first down. Rookie Tight End Dalton Schultz got involved, Elliott ripped off a 24 yard run, and the Cowboys still came away empty on this drive.
A year removed from coaching the Cowboys linebackers, Colts Defensive Coordinator Matt Eberflus had his way with Scott Linehan's offense all afternoon, stymieing their most promising drive after Olawale should have scored easily.
- The Cowboys only chance to get back in the game was taken away from them by a Joe Looney holding call, just another example of players that had carried them through a winning streak not playing up to standard.
The Colts took the second half kickoff down the field to extend the lead to 17-0. On fourth and two on the ensuing possession, Prescott hit an injured Cole Beasley for 18 yards to the Colts' 23-yard line. The Cowboys red zone offense certainly doesn't provide the confidence that Dallas would finish the drive, but Looney's hold negated Beasley's catch and forced a punt.
The Colts tacked on a field goal and finished out the game without the Cowboys threatening again. Looney played down to the level of Adam Redmond to his left, who replaced Xavier Su'a-Filo, and Connor Williams in for Zack Martin - though I thought Williams held up fairly well and should be in play to earn more snaps wherever needed.
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The Cowboys can regroup and still accomplish everything they set out for this season, forced to make this loss to the Colts and afterthought like their last one to the Titans became. A five game win streak as a response is out of reach, but a streak of just one is all Dallas needs to clinch the NFC East and focus on improvements for the playoffs.
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