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Denver Broncos at Dallas Cowboys Game Preview



Draft Blog - Is Jason Garrett Drafting For His Job? 2

peyton_manning_090912_AP876230197664_620x350As I mentioned in my previous column, the Dallas Cowboys have entered a game with Peyton Manning with their backs against the wall. They will need another inspired performance if they wish to get their season back on track as Manning leads his undefeated Denver Broncos (4-0) into AT&T Stadium (4:25, CBS) for a tilt against the 2-2 Cowboys.

In what turned out to be a very sour Southern California vacation for the Kiffin family, son Lane saw his tenure at USC come to an end in the most humiliating way possible (left behind at LAX after a 62-41 loss to Arizona State) and patriarch Monte saw his defense, which posted admirable results in the first three weeks of the season, get torched for 506 yards by the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium en route to a 30-21 defeat in the lovely city discovered by the Germans in 1904.

401 of those yards came from the arm of Philip Rivers, who, other than a 2nd quarter interception that LB Sean Lee returned for a touchdown, was magnificent on Sunday, completing 35-of-42 passes, three of which ended in touchdowns. The final one was the nail in Dallas's coffin, a 56 yard strike to Antonio Gates.

If Dallas thought Rivers was bad, Halloween has come several weeks early for the defense, who must deal with Manning and his merry receivers. The Broncos are coming off a 52-20 destruction of the Philadelphia Eagles, a game that saw Manning throw for 327 yards and 4 touchdowns, adding to his already impressive total of 1,470 yards and 16 touchdown throws. Needless to say, Manning, who has yet to throw an interception this season, leads the league in both categories, in addition to topping the charts in completion percentage (75.0%) and passer rating (138.0). The numbers might've been even more inflated had John Fox not call off the dogs (or horses, in this case) and stick Brock Osweiler in.

Obviously, Dallas is not favored in this game by anyone who doesn't bleed Cowboys blue and silver. Manning brings in his talented receiving arsenal to Dallas as well, headline by the fearsome trio of Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker, and the newly acquired Wes Welker. If the Cowboys want to win, they will need to not only shut down this powerful receiving corps but win the turnover battle. That may be stating the obvious, but when you consider that Manning has not thrown an interception this season, it's imperative to force Denver into uncomfortable situations. If the Cowboys can force Manning into a sense of discomfort, they can force the Broncos to beat them with their underdeveloped run game.

As for the offense, it would not hurt to see QB Tony Romo return to his gunslinger ways, even if ever so briefly. Romo's new conservative approach to the offense has helped in several ways (for example, he's turning the ball over a lot less often), but one cannot win on screen passes and five-yard-outs alone. Of course, Dez Bryant is the perfect option, but the Cowboys need variety if they're going to pull off the upset. You know how Manning was able to make guys like Austin Collie and Brandon Stokley look like superstars in Indianapolis? Romo has to do the same here. With Miles Austin's status still in doubt for this week, Romo will have to get his lesser known targets involved in the offense more. Enter Terrence Williams, a rookie receiver out of Baylor who really has to start redeeming himself. A blown route in the Week 1 game against the Giants led to Romo's only interception this season, and his fumble at the San Diego 1 yard line ended any hopes of a Dallas comeback last week.

Dallas also must not abandon the run game when things don't start to go their way. When it became apparent that the momentum was turning in San Diego's direction, the offense panicked and totally forgot they had DeMarco Murray in the backfield. Murray finished the game with a solid 5 yards a carry, but he only had 14 of them for a total of 70 yards. Denver does have a great run defense, allowing just 74.0 yards on the ground per game (tops in the NFL) but Dallas must let the Broncos know that the passing game is not the only thing they have to fear. The run game will also allow the Cowboys to run play action, which could open the path Romo needs to toss a long ball downfield.

I do believe the Cowboys have a better shot in this game than most, but to predict a win at this point is simply too much wishful thinking. Denver has looked like absolute world-beaters and the Manning that we see on Sunday could be better than any version of Peyton Manning that we've ever seen. So while I think the Cowboys will keep pace slightly with the Broncos for a bit and that the game will serve as a good learning experience, Denver is too good to blow a game like this. Pulling off an upset is not out of the question, but sometimes you just have to take the moral victory. Of course, though, if moral victories counted, everybody would be undefeated

Prediction: Broncos 38, Cowboys 27


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Game Notes

#ATLvsDAL: Betting Preview, Trends, And Prediction

Kevin Brady



Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

This week's gambling preview focuses on the Cowboys week 11 opponent, the Atlanta Falcons. Dallas beat the now 4-5 Eagles last Sunday to improve their own record to 4-5. Atlanta lost on the road to Cleveland last week to drop their record to 4-5 on the season.

It's an 8-8 league, isn't it?

Dallas returns to the scene of the 2017 crime this Sunday, traveling to Atlanta where Chaz Green and Dak Prescott were destroyed almost exactly one year ago. Let's take a look at the line and the quality of these teams to see which way it could go.

The Line

Cowboys +3, O/U 48 points. 

Dallas Cowboys

Dallas saved their season on the road last Sunday night, defeating the Philadelphia Eagles and getting right back in the thick of things in the NFC East race. Still, we can't simply ignore what the other 8 games of data have told us about the Cowboys and their offensive quality.

The addition of Amari Cooper has clearly helped the offense, opening up the passing game a bit and allowing for Dak Prescott to have a reliable "number one" receiver. The team's results overall have been mixed the first two games of the Cooper-era, but he has been consistently good in both match-ups.

Defensively the Cowboys continued to impress last week, though "cornerback opposite of Byron Jones" is quickly becoming a potential need. Leighton Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith stole the show last Sunday, and both the present and the future of the Cowboys' linebacking corps is strong. It could be argued the Cowboys have yet to see a passing attack like the one Atlanta brings, however, making Sunday a big test for them defensively.

Atlanta Falcons

Similar to the Cowboys, Atlanta has been very much up-and-down this season. In a way, though, they are just the opposite-day Cowboys, with their offense putting up insane numbers most weeks and their banged up defense often letting them down.

Though it looked like they were turning it around in recent weeks, Atlanta had probably their most disappointing loss in quite some time, losing at Cleveland to the young Browns. Still, Matt Ryan and Julio Jones lead a prolific passing attack which can strike fear in any defense.

Byron Jones and company will have their hands full with the Falcons' cast of skill players on Sunday, and as usual, stopping their passing attack will all begin up front with the pass rush. Hopefully Randy Gregory can build on his week 10 performance to produce even more results this week.


  • Surprisingly, the score total has now hit the over 4 of the Cowboys' last 6 games.
  • The Cowboys are 2-5 against the spread their last 7 games against the Falcons.
  • The Cowboys are also 2-4 against the spread their last games at Atlanta.
  • Dallas is just 1-4 straight up on the road this season.
  • The score total has gone over 4 of Atlanta's last 5 home games.
  • The Falcons are just 2-5 against the spread their last 7 games.


Who the hell knows, man.

This team is incredibly difficult to project week to week, probably about as volatile as they've been since all those 8-8 seasons. This line started at Cowboys +4.5 and has since moved down to just +3, meaning they are valued as a pick 'em on a neutral field.

Given how inconsistent, yet talented, both teams are this line feels exactly right. I'll take the Cowboys and the points because why not? I expect this to be a tight game throughout, and could come down to the kicking game in the fourth quarter.

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Game Notes

X-Factor: Xavier Su’a-Filo Excellent in Cowboys Win over Eagles

John Williams



X-Factor: Xavier Su'a-Filo Excellent in Cowboys Win over Eagles 4

Heading into this week's game against the Philadelphia Eagles the Dallas Cowboys were down starting Left Guard Connor Williams as well as starting Center Travis Frederick. Getting his first start for the Dallas Cowboys since being signed off the street during the season as guard depth was Xavier Su'a Filo and he played excellent.

Filling in against a front seven as good as the Eagles is a pretty difficult ask, but Su'a-Filo had 31 games in the previous two seasons with the Houston Texans, so he's not your typical interior backup.

In particular, Xavier did a great job of getting to the second level quickly and sealing off the linebacker, which allowed Ezekiel Elliott to spring for several big gains on the day.

X-Factor: Xavier Su'a-Filo Excellent in Cowboys Win over Eagles

Here on Ezekiel Elliott's big run, you can see Su'a-Filo and Left Tackle Tyron Smith start a combo block on the three-technique defensive tackle. After the initial engagement, Su'a-Filo comes off his block quickly and gets to the linebacker and prevents him from filling the hole and doubling back to cut Elliott off and Elliott runs for 32 yards down the middle of the field.

X-Factor: Xavier Su'a-Filo Excellent in Cowboys Win over Eagles 1

Again, we see Tyron and Xavier work a combo block before Su'a-Filo comes off his block to engage the linebacker and prevent him from getting back to Elliott after hits the hole to the left side.

X-Factor: Xavier Su'a-Filo Excellent in Cowboys Win over Eagles 2

This time Xavier Su'a-Filo works with Joe Looney to prevent the one-technique defensive tackle from slanting down the line and disrupting the point of attack. Su'a-Filo then quickly releases to linebacker and seals him to the outside and creates a big hole for Elliott to run through for yet another big gain.

X-Factor: Xavier Su'a-Filo Excellent in Cowboys Win over Eagles 3

This is another big gain for Ezekiel Elliott and the Dallas Cowboys offense that seemed to be able to run right at the heart of the Philadelphia Eagles defense all night. This time Su'a-Filo stumbles off the snap but is able to regain his balance and neutralize the middle linebacker yet again allowing Elliott to get to the second level quickly and get the Dallas Cowboys into field goal range late in the game.

Film Review: Xavier Su'a-Filo Excellent in Cowboys Win over Eagles 1

Su'a-Filo is matched up against one of the première defensive tackles in Fletcher Cox. Cox looks to get leverage on Xavier but is unable to fully get to Dak Prescott as he steps up into the pocket. The offensive tackles didn't expect Dak to step up into the pocket and were unable to hold up the Philadelphia Eagles defensive ends and Prescott is sacked. Su'a-Filo, though isn't completely walked back and Dak has a lane to step into in the pocket. Obviously it's not a perfect play for the Cowboys, but Su'a-Filo eventually tosses Fletcher Cox to the ground. That kind of play strength has been missing from rookie Connor Williams.

Film Review: Xavier Su'a-Filo Excellent in Cowboys Win over Eagles

In pass protection, Xavier held up well. Cox attempts to use power to knock him off-balance, but Su'a-Filo holds up to the power and Dak Prescott finds Allen Hurns for a big gain down to the one yard line setting up Dak Prescott's rushing touchdown.

The Cowboys run game has had a difficult time getting going for much of the season. Ezekiel Elliott and the Cowboys offensive line played their best game of the season. It looked like the dominant run game we've grown accustomed to. Pro Football Focus attributed to hurries to Su'a-Filo on the night, but zero quarterback hits and zero sacks. Running to the left, Elliott ran for 113 yards at a clip of 8.61 yards per carry including three carries for more than 10 yards and Su'a-Filo was a big part of that.

Xavier did a nice job stepping in for starter Connor Williams and had a nice day both in pass protection and in the run game helping to give strength and athleticism at the point of attack. His ability to get to the next level helped spring Elliott for several big runs on the night, which was a huge key to the football game. Coming into the week 10, the Philadelphia Eagles had allowed the second fewest rushing yards in the NFL.

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Game Notes

Takeaway Tuesday: Amari Cooper Proving to be Worth It

Mauricio Rodriguez



Will McClay Breaks Down Cowboys Vision for New WR Amari Cooper 1

Just when all hope was lost, the Dallas Cowboys went on the road and surprised fans with a 27-20 win over the Philadelphia Eagles. Both on defense and offense, it was a game that showed us plenty of silver linings to be excited about. While a playoff run certainly remains pretty difficult to accomplish, at least the team isn't leaving without a fight.

The last Cowboys' victory came approximately a month ago, so it is with great pleasure that I share with you this week's edition of "Takeaway Tuesday!"

Leighton Vander Esch Is A Stud, And Should Be For A Long Time

Vander Esch Among Best Cowboys' Players

Just before last game, I wrote about how Leighton Vander Esch could be in contention for Defensive Rookie of the Year. Playing on Sunday Night Football (on national TV), the rookie helped his case a lot with 13 solo tackles and an interception.

Little by little, he's making sure the Cowboys know they can move on from frequently injured Sean Lee down the road. Vander Esch can play. Forget about him being an impressive rookie, he's currently one of the best players on this roster.

Scott Linehan Shouldn't be Off the Hook

As any Cowboys fan, I loved the win. There were quite a few things to like about the offense on Sunday, but there's no denying play calling could've been way better. As much as the Dallas Cowboys are still in the hunt in a mediocre division, Offensive Coordinator Scott Linehan should remain on the hot seat.

Ezekiel Elliott took the Cowboys to the 5-yard line by leaping over a human at full speed and right after the Cowboys stopped using him on that drive. Against the Titans, the offense found itself on third and 16 twice and ran a running back screen pass. In Philadelphia, they were on third and 16 once and they ran a RB screen once again.

Dallas has left a lot of points on the field this year and in big part thanks to play calling. Linehan shouldn't be safe right now.

Amari Cooper Proving to be Worth It

After two games wearing the Star, Cowboys Nation is feeling a lot better about trading a first rounder for Amari Cooper. On the field, he's proven to be an impact player. An impact that has been felt immediately, by the way. Out of 11 catches, Cooper has gotten the Cowboys' offense ten first downs.

Versus the Eagles, though, his impact is felt beyond his single stat line.

On Sunday Night, he accounted for six catches and 75 yards. He helped QB Dak Prescott get 270 yards through the air and most importantly, to spread the football.

Bobby Belt on Twitter

7 different Cowboys have a reception of at least 13 yards tonight.

That stat above is an underrated one. No wide receiver in next year's Draft would have the kind of impact Amari Cooper is having on this football team. In the long run, lots of people could be eating their words after heavily criticizing the Cowboys' trade for the two-times Pro Bowler wide receiver. Hopefully, that's the case.

Tell me what you think about "Takeaway Tuesday: Amari Cooper Proving to be Worth It" in the comments below, or tweet me @MauNFL 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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