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Game Notes

The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly For Cowboys Against Lions

Brian Martin

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Ezekiel Elliott, Lions
Tim Heitman - USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Cowboys put together a dominating performance last night against the Detroit Lions, winning the contest 42-21. This was the 13th win of the 2016 season for the Cowboys, which ties the record for most wins in a season for the organization.

I honestly didn't believe that the Lions were good enough to compete against the Cowboys, but I never imagined that America's Team would come out and completely dominate like they did, especially in what was really a meaningless game for the organization.

This was an encouraging performance for a team that was struggling just a few weeks ago and could go a long ways in how they perform in a few weeks in the playoffs.

Of course, it wasn't all sunshine and rainbows for the Dallas Cowboys last night. There were several areas that still needs to be cleaned up if they want to be one of the two teams playing in the Super Bowl in Houston, Texas.

So, here is this week's edition of The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly for the Dallas Cowboys against the Detroit Lions last night. I hope you enjoy.

The Good

Dez Bryant, Lions

There was a lot of good last night for the Dallas Cowboys against the Detroit Lions, so it was a little difficult to narrow down just one thing. I do however like the way the Cowboys offense came out and performed last night in what was a meaningless game, so that's the direction I'm going this week.

Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott continue to make their case for NFL MVP and both players showed no signs of hitting that infamous "rookie wall" everyone keeps talking about.

I think what I liked the most about the offense for the Dallas Cowboys last night was the chemistry between Prescott and Dez Bryant and how offensive coordinator got #88 involved in the game plan.

We really haven't seen Prescott and Bryant hook up on that back shoulder fade a lot this season, but they did so last night and made it look like they have been playing together for years.

It looks as if Dak Prescott and the rest of the offense is firing on all cylinders and that's really good news for us Cowboys fans with the postseason just around the corner.

The Bad

Jason Garrett

The boneheaded penalties that the Dallas Cowboys continued to commit was the bad for me last night against the Lions. I don't think there was an offensive series in the first half for the Cowboys where they didn't have a penalty flag thrown.

I honestly think I write about these stupid penalties that put the Cowboys in bad situations on both sides of the ball every week. It is way past time to fix this major area of concern!

I don't know why, but for some reason or another Jason Garrett hasn't been able to keep his team from committing these ill-advised, boneheaded, drive killing penalties.

I don't know about you, but I am worried that the continued appearance of the yellow flag lying on the field will come back to haunt the Dallas Cowboys once the postseason kicks off, especially on the offensive side of the ball.

The Cowboys were able to overcome a some of the long down and distances due to penalties last night against the Lions, but you can't expect that to continue to happen in the playoffs when you're going up against the best teams in the league.

This could ultimately be the Cowboys downfall in the postseason if they can't find a way to fix this problem and fast.

The Ugly

Lions

The ugly for me last night for the Dallas Cowboys against the Detroit Lions was how the defense performed.

Rod Marinelli's defense started off the game looking nothing like the unit that we have seen over the past few weeks, but fortunately they turned things around and once again made some key plays that helped get Matt Stafford and his offense off the field.

It was a little worrisome to see the Detroit Lions offense find success with Zach Zenner in the running game, especially considering the Lions are one of the worst teams in the NFL running the ball.

Zenner was pretty much dominating the Cowboys defense early in the game and was able to find the end zone twice in the first 22 minutes. It was really starting to look like the defense had a long night ahead of themselves, but they were fortunately able to bounce back and find their groove in the second half.

Of course, the defense did a lot of good last night as well.

It was really encouraging to see David Irving put together another dominating performance, especially with all the injuries the Cowboys have sustained along the defensive line. If he can remain consistent, he could really help this team in the postseason.

Let's just hope the defense can continue to put things together when it matters the most.

What is your Good, Bad, And Ugly for the Dallas Cowboys against the Detroit Lions?

Please feel free to use the comment section below to share your thoughts and opinions on this topic.



Level C2/C3 quadriplegic. College graduate with a bachelors degree in sports and health sciences-concentration sports management. Sports enthusiast. Dallas Cowboys fanatic. Lover of life with a glass half-full point of view.

Game Notes

Cowboys, Redskins Week 7 Injury Report

Jess Haynie

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Cowboys, Redskins Week 7 Injury Report
Patrick Smith/Getty Images

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:

Dallas Cowboys

  • 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.

Washington Redskins

  • 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.



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Game Notes

Cowboys Focused on Improved Communication to Solve Road Woes at Redskins

Sean Martin

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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.

David Moore on Twitter

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.

Tell us what you think about "Cowboys Focused on Improved Communication to Solve Road Woes at Redskins" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!



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Game Notes

#WASvsDAL: Why This Game Holds Increased Importance

Kevin Brady

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Cowboys Pass Rush Better than They're Given Credit For
James D. Smith/Dallas Cowboys

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.

Brian Burke on Twitter

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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