The Dallas Cowboys are coming off a disappointing week one effort that saw them fall at the hands of the Carolina Panthers 16-8. On the offensive side of the ball there wasn't a lot to get excited about, but the defensive side showed the potential that we've been excited about all offseason.
They're a unit that has lived up to the high expectations placed on them during the preseason. They have the talent and the coaching to make plays and to help keep opposing offenses at bay. Hopefully the offense can turn it on and make this a complete team.
They'll need to figure it out in a hurry with division rival the New York Giants coming to town in an must-win week two matchup.
Yes, you read that right. This is a must-win game for both of these teams.
HOU @ TEN LAC @ BUF DET @ SF NYG @ DAL SEA @ CHI Over 90% of 0-2 teams miss the NFL playoffs. We have five elimination games this week https://t.co/Y37WqHG7SM
Both the Dallas Cowboys and the New York Giants opened the season with a loss, which means that the loser of this game will have a slim chance to make the playoffs. As Justis Mosqueda points out, teams that start the season 0-2 have only made the playoffs 10% of the time.
So, pretty much a must-win. The Dallas Cowboys have playoff aspirations in 2018 and if they want to make the playoffs, they need to win this game.
The Dallas Cowboys have done it before. As Jerry Jones pointed out on 105.3 The Fan Tuesday morning, they started 0-2 and won a Super Bowl. It can happen, but it puts your team playing catch up to make the playoffs.
Well, before we get too far ahead of ourselves, lets take a look at this week's matchup.
The Dallas Cowboys lead the all-time series 64-46-2. Under Jason Garrett's tenure, they're 9-7 including winning the last two games in 2017.
It was an important opening week for Dak Prescott last season as the narrative that he couldn't beat the New York Giants was being thrown around like it was a fact. He made short order of that narrative with a 19-3 victory in week one last season.
Then again in December of last season, amidst a really poor stretch of football, Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys went out and beat the Giants 30-10. In that game Dak threw for 332 yards, three touchdowns and posted a passer rating of 137.1. The Dallas Cowboys played that game without Ezekiel Elliott.
Inside The Numbers
One of my favorite stats when we talk about the New York Giants is to remind everyone that Eli Manning has averaged an interception per game for his career. He continued that pace in week one with an interception against the Jacksonville Jaguars, which isn't necessarily an indication of Eli's play as the Jaguars boast the best secondary in the NFL.
Eli Manning could be in for a career year with new Head Coach Pat Shurmur, who helped Case Keenum cash in with the Denver Broncos after his stellar year in Minnesota.
The Dallas Cowboys had opportunities to create turnovers last week, but were unable to cash in. They'll get chances again this week, but the need to catch those balls that get thrown the defenses' way.
The amount of times that Dak Prescott has had a passer rating over 90 in the last eight games. Prior to week nine of 2017, he had a passer rating greater than 90 18 times in his first 25 games.
Something is different about Dak Prescott over the last eight games of his career. Whether it's coaching or mechanics or play calling or his supporting cast, something's different.
He needs a bounce back game.
Dak Prescott's 83.3 completion percentage when getting rid of the football in under 2.5 seconds is third in the NFL. He was 10 of 12, had a quarterback rating of 95.5, and was only sacked twice. On the flip side, when he held the ball longer than 2.5 seconds, he was 9 of 17, had a passer rating of 67.5, and was sacked four times.
Moral of the story. Get the ball out of your hands quicker Dak.
The New York Giants allowed 4.9 yards per carry to the Jacksonville Jaguars in week one. The Dallas Cowboys were slightly better with a yards per carry allowed of 4.6.
In week one, both the Dallas Cowboys and the New York Giants allowed less than 5 yards per play. The Giants only allowed 4.9 yards per play which was 11th in the NFL in week one. The Dallas Cowboys only allowed 4.8 yards per play, good for ninth in the league.
Both teams will have a chance to improve upon that number in week two if Dak Prescott or Eli Manning prove incapable of pushing the ball down the field.
The Dallas Cowboys six sacks allowed in week one to the Carolina Panthers is tied for the second most allowed in the NFL in week one with the Buffalo Bills and the Seattle Seahawks. Only the Cleveland Browns had more sacks allowed.
Dak Prescott held the ball an average of 2.98 seconds per attempt last week. Excluding Lamar Jackson, who only had six pass attempts, Prescott's average time to attempt was the fourth longest time in the NFL. Only Josh Allen, Sam Darnold, and DeShaun Watson had longer times to attempt in the opening week of the season.
Cole Beasley's seven receptions are tied for 15th in the NFL. Equal to Mike Evans, Rob Gronkowski, Tyreek Hill, Larry Fitzgerald, Golden Tate, and Jarvis Landry. His 73 yards receiving is 30th in the NFL after one week.
This has a chance to be a huge year for Beasley as he's on pace for 112 receptions at this point and his first 1,000 yard season. That would be really good timing for him in a contract year.
Odell Beckham Jr. just got paid and he rewarded the New York Giants with 11 catches for 111 yards in their week one loss against the Jacksonville Jaquars. Those 11 receptions are second in the NFL to Michael Thomas' 16 for the New Orleans Saints.
Beckham was most effective going over the middle of the field where he caught 6 of 8 targets for 58 yards. When he was targeted by Eli Manning over the middle and greater than 10 yards, Manning had a passer rating of 102.1. Manning's passer rating was 88.3 when targeting OBJ over the middle and less than 10 yards down field.
Jaylon Smith and Sean Lee better get ready for a heavy dose of Beckham in the middle of the field. That's the same area of the field where Christian McCaffrey did most of his damage in week one.
The amount of points the New York Giants scored in week one against the vaunted Jacksonville Jaguars defense. The Giants had a chance at the end of the game to take the lead before turning it over on downs with a little more than a minute left to play.
The Dallas Cowboys 232 total yards in week one has them ranked 30th in the NFL only in front of the Arizona Cardinals and the Buffalo Bills. Coincidentally, those are the only two teams who scored fewer than the Dallas Cowboys eight points last week.
It's only been a week, but that's not good company to be in.
Taco Charlton tied for the team lead in snaps with Defensive Tackle Antwuan Woods on Sunday with 49. That was one more than DeMarcus Lawrence and Tyrone Crawford.
In those 49 snaps, Charlton had two pressures, three total tackles, and a pass defensed.
Cornerback Anthony Brown received the best coverage grade from Pro Football Focus at 78.3, which was slightly better than Byron Jones at 77.
Heading into 2018, it was assumed that Brown would be the odd man out in nickel situations given the play of Jourdan Lewis in 2017, but Brown has held him off and maintained a role with the Dallas Cowboys defense.
In the loss, he was targeted only twice, allowed only one reception, and was credited with a "stop." PFF defines a stop as a play that results in a "loss" for the defense.
DeMarcus Lawrence had a heck of a game against the Carolina Panthers in week one. He totaled five tackles, five "stops," one sack, four tackles for loss, and four hurries. He was the Dallas Cowboys best player in week one and is off to a great start to lead the team in sacks again in 2018.
Saquon Barkley's 106 rushing yards are third in the NFL heading into week two. That done on 18 carries with a 62 yard long, which gives him a 5.9 yards per carry. If you remove the 62 yard run for a touchdown, then he had yard per carry of 2.58.
He's an explosive player that can take the ball for a score when he touches it. The Dallas Cowboys will have to play sound defense to limit his opportunities to get into the open field.
Stat of the Week
Last season, #Dak put up 13/18 for 183 yards, two touchdowns, and took one sack against James Bettcher's defense last year when he was the Arizona Cardinals' defensive coordinator.
Could OC Kellen Moore Be More “Vanilla” Against Dolphins This Week?
The Cowboys are sort of in a no-win situation this Sunday.
If they come out and dominate the openly tanking Miami Dolphins, they'll have done exactly what they should do. But, if they lose to this putrid roster or lose one of their key players to injury, then this week three game would be considered a disaster.
So how should the Cowboys approach the Miami Dolphins?
Something tells me that new offensive coordinator Kellen Moore may look more "basic" than usual this week. Heralded for his creativity over the first two games, Moore may not want to show too much against the lowly Dolphins. Especially if the Cowboys can simply impose their will, a la the 2016 offensive gameplan.
Running backs Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard should expect a lot of inside and outside zone opportunities this week, with each having a chance to have their best individual performances of the season. Tight end Blake Jarwin and wide receiver Devin Smith could see a lot of opportunities through the air as well, as the Cowboys may want to avoid putting Amari Cooper in situations which could cause injury.
Kellen Moore may want to come out firing with Dak Prescott and this dynamic passing game at first to get a quick lead, and then look to shorten the game as much as possible with his running game.
Honestly, as much as Cowboys Nation may not like it, I wouldn't be shocked if Miami covered this lofty 23 point spread. Dallas could look to get up a couple touchdowns, then proceed to sit on the ball and just look to get out of the stadium alive. Especially considering that the schedule gets much more difficult in the weeks following this Miami game.
With key NFC matchups against the New Orleans Saints, Green Bay Packers, and Philadelphia Eagles looming large, health is the most important factor this week against the Dolphins.
Well, health and winning, of course.
#DALvsMIA: Betting Preview, Trends, And Prediction
Dallas and Miami could not be in more different modes heading into this week's game.
At 2-0 the Cowboys are looking to take the next step and earn themselves a Super Bowl ring. At a historically bad 0-2, the Dolphins are looking to go 0-16 and get a shot at drafting the top quarterback in next year's draft.
Vegas has this game at a ridiculous 21 point spread, which should rightfully scare gamblers away. But, both the Ravens and Patriots have beaten the brakes off Miami already this year, and Dallas seems primed to do so as well.
Cowboys -21. O/U 47.5 Points
The Cowboys are off to their best start since 2015, and they certainly expect their next 14 games to go much better than they did during that 2015 season. Dallas' offense is as dynamic as any in the league through two weeks, and quarterback Dak Prescott is playing like a legit MVP candidate.
Defensively, the Cowboys have been a bit disappointing thus far, but they have to be feeling like Sunday is the perfect opportunity for a "get right game." Defensive end Robert Quinn returns from suspension to take on his former team, and DeMarcus Lawrence looks to be getting his legs under him after missing all of training camp.
Prescott's favorite target during the opening victories, Michael Gallup, is set to miss this game with an injury, but I don't expect it to matter much against the Dolphins.
Where to even begin with the Miami Dolphins.
After trading for former first round pick Josh Rosen this offseason, the Dolphins decided to start journeyman Ryan Fitzpatrick at quarterback. Then they traded their own former first round left tackle Laremy Tunsil for a slew of high draft picks. Then, most recently, they traded another former first rounder in Minkah Fitzpatrick for even more picks.
Miami is doing everything they can do to hoard draft picks, ensuring they'll have their pick of the top quarterbacks over the next two draft classes. In the end, this tanking strategy could very well work for the Dolphins, but in 2019 they are going to look really bad.
They've been dominated and embarrassed both weeks thus far, and most expect that embarrassment to continue Sunday against the Cowboys. Operation Fish Tank is in full effect.
- The Dolphins are 0-5 against the spread their last 5 games.
- The score total has gone over in 4 of Miami's last 6 games.
- The Cowboys are 6-0 outright their last 6 home games.
- The score total has gone over in each of the Cowboys' last 5 games.
If it were to happen, this would be one of the worst losses I could ever remember in Cowboys history. Luckily, I highly doubt the Cowboys don't take care of business on Sunday.
Miami is downright trying to lose football games, and it's hard to imagine this group coming into Dallas and beating such a talented bunch. I'll take the Cowboys big, but I don't have the guts to bet any team -21 in the NFL.
Takeaway Tuesday: Zeke Had The Exact Kind of Game Cowboys Need
It's pretty difficult to deal with the hype of being 2-0 to open a 2019 NFL season. The Dallas Cowboys have done just that with a revamped offense and a quarterback that's thrown seven touchdowns in the process. They currently sit alone atop of the NFC East and although it's too early to know what kind of team this will be when it's all said alone, we're excited.
Let's dive into this week's takeaways!
We Need Robert Quinn Back
The Dallas Cowboys defense hasn't been as bad as many would think. They've had a few bad moments but the talent is still there and should be improving as the season goes on. Last Sunday, what was most frustrating to me was the lack of a pass rush. DeMarcus Lawrence had a pretty good game, even though his stat line doesn't look very pretty. The pressure was there constantly and he forced a handful of bad plays from Case Keenum. Tyrone Crawford managed to sack him once.
Other than that, for most of the game the pressure was scarce. Fortunately, the Cowboys are getting Robert Quinn back from suspension this week. Having two quality edge rushers will boost a defense that has the potential to be great, but has only been "good" two weeks into the season.
Ezekiel Elliott Had The Kind of Game The Cowboys Need
Zeke was back for a heavier workload in week 2 after having a snap count in the season opener. It may have not felt like it, but the Cowboys' star running back had a pretty good game versus the Redskins. On 23 carries he had 111 yards and a touchdown, averaging 4.8 yards per carry.
In contrast of recent years, Elliott had a great game without the team heavily leaning on the running game. Dak Prescott threw the ball 30 times and Zeke still had a great game. This is what Cowboys Nation should want out of Kellen Moore's offense.
Elliott has two rushing touchdowns in the season, compared to six in all of last year. This is a product of an offense that's now dangerous in many ways, specially in the red zone. You gotta love what Moore is accomplishing so far.
Slow Starts Can't Continue to Happen
The biggest issue with the Cowboys in the first two weeks of the season has been their slow openings. In both games they've started trailing early. The worst thing about it is that it's been due to giving up big plays (like Saquon Barkley's big run in week 1) and quick, unsuccessful drives on offense (like a three-and-out drive followed by a drive that ended in an interception last Sunday).
Fortunately for the Cowboys, the Giants and Redskins didn't pose much of a problem. But when we reach the tougher stretches of the schedule, we know how quickly a game can turn south. Not every rival will be as unforgiving as the 0-2 foes they've faced so far.
Dak Prescott Continues to Prove He's It
Last but not least, we'll talk about Dak Prescott. Once again, he looked great. He finished the day with 269 yards, three touchdowns and an interception that came on a tipped ball from Randall Cobb's hand. He threw an absolute dime to WR Devin Smith, giving him his ninth 50+ yard touchdown pass of his career (ranking third in the NFL since 2016 behind Tom Brady and Philip Rivers).
All game long, he was precise against Washington's defense. He dealt three touchdowns to three different players and was making throws with anticipation and poise. If you're not sold on Dak Prescott yet, I don't know if you'll ever be.
He also looked well as a runner, specially on that 42-yard run where he stiffed arm Josh Norman. I hope the Cowboys continue to use him in the running game.
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