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.
#DALvsWAS: Betting Preview, Trends, And Prediction
It's been a long and tough road to get here, but this week the 5-5 Dallas Cowboys play for a share of first place in the NFC East. Though it hasn't been pretty, and it has often been bad, the Cowboys are alive as ever in the division race, and can take control of their own destiny with a victory on Thursday.
On the other side are the 6-4 Redskins, who are an impressive 7-3 against the spread this year. Washington is reeling with injuries, especially on the offensive side of the ball, but they are still hanging on for dear life atop the division heading into this pivotal game.
Cowboys - 7.5, O/U 40.5.
Two weeks ago the Cowboys were left for dead, losing at home to the Tennessee Titans and sitting at 3-5 on the season. Fast forward to today and the Cowboys are suddenly the favorites to win the NFC East, upsetting the Eagles and Falcons on the road back to back weeks.
Dallas now sits at 5-5, both straight up and against the spread, with a chance to take a share of first place this Thursday. As you'll remember, Washington did defeat the Cowboys a few weeks ago, when Brett Maher missed the game tying field goal as time expired.
Ezekiel Elliott has put the offense on his back these last two games, and will be looking for more of the same this week. If Dallas is going to get over .500 for the first time this season, they'll need yet another huge game from Elliott.
Washington had a rough Sunday last week. Not only did they lose at home to Houston while the Cowboys beat Atlanta, allowing Dallas back into the NFC East race, but they also lost their starting quarterback for the season.
Alex Smith suffered a horrendous leg injury last week, and will need season ending surgery. In his place comes former Texas Longhorns quarterback Colt McCoy. McCoy looked pretty good in relief of Smith against Houston, though he could not seal the win on the final drive.
Of course, McCoy did once come into Dallas and beat the 12-4 2014 Cowboys on Monday Night Football, possibly costing them a first round bye for those playoffs. Still, he is a downgrade from Alex Smith, and the NFC East crown is ripe for the taking this Thursday.
- Washington is 5-1 against the spread their last 6 games.
- Washington is 1-4 straight up their last 4 games against the Cowboys.
- The Cowboys are 4-2 against the spread their last 6 games.
- The score total has gone over 5 of the last 6 Cowboys/Redskins games.
- The score total has gone over 4 of the Cowboys' last 6 home games.
I like the Cowboys to win this game straight up, but 7.5 points is a lot of points to be giving as a relatively mediocre Cowboys team. I expect this game to be tight throughout, with the Cowboys squeaking it out late to get to 6-5 on the season.
Still, Washington +7.5 is the smart play here, even without Alex Smith in the lineup.
Takeaway Tuesday: Cowboys Have a Championship Defense
The Dallas Cowboys are not only breathing in playoff contention, but they're now the favorites to crown themselves as the NFC East champions in 2018. It's pretty impressive how the tables can turn so quickly in the NFL. Dallas played very well against the Atlanta Falcons last Sunday and we learned quite a bit from them as they bounced back to .500. Here's this week's Takeaway Tuesday! Enjoy it as much as you did Brett Maher's game winning field goal a couple of days ago.
Cowboys Have a Championship Defense
Despite taking steps in the right direction, it's impossible to compare this offense to units like the Chiefs, Saints and Rams. However, it's the Cowboys' defense that could be labeled as a championship unit. Facing an offense with such a strong WR core, allowing only one touchdown on the road is impressive.
The Cowboys sacked Matt Ryan three times and were constantly causing pressures. Byron Jones was great once again, allowing only two catches in passes thrown in his direction. And of course, the kid who's been impressing us all, Leighton Vander Esch continued to play out of his mind. He should be the Defensive Rookie of the Year front runner at this point.
The Cowboys' defense is one of the best in the NFL right now, and any offense will have a tough time facing them. It'll be intriguing to see if they can take the next step and stop a high-powered unit like the Saints in a few days.
Offensive Line Woes Are Gone
The offense has improved a lot the last couple of games. Although there is still a lot to work on, they're not struggling as they were in the first half of the season. The offensive line is a huge part of this. With Marc Colombo at OL coach, things have looked very different in Dallas.
Ezekiel Elliott: "I feel great. I feel fast. I feel physical. I feel very comfortable with the running schemes. We just got to keep rolling. That's what's important. We just got to keep rolling.
Ezekiel Elliott has been on a roll the past two weeks and his comments regarding how he feels about the running schemes shouldn't go unnoticed. The offensive line wasn't playing as well as they are right now earlier in the year. Dak Prescott is noticeably more comfortable in the pocket.
It's intriguing to know what will happen at left guard for the Cowboys. With Connor Williams injured, Xavier Su'a-Filo has done a good job filling in for him. Williams has the upside, but should Dallas mess up the mojo this OL has lately?
Dak Prescott: Clutch QB
Dak Prescott continues to be criticized by fans while he keeps proving us why it's not that easy to move on from him. The guy is far from the perfect passer, yet he's been clutch time and time again. This time he did so on the road on an impressive two minute drill.
With 1:46 on the clock, Prescott marched his team down to the Falcons' 24 yard line. He managed to give his team another game winning drive in consecutive weeks. The Cowboys' young quarterback needed a confidence boost and this is perfect for him. He needs to keep it up if the team is going to finish the season as the NFC East champions.
Since entering the NFL, Dak has 12 game winning drives. As frustrating as his play is at times, he will not be easy to replace if the Cowboys decide to move on from this guy down the road. Hopefully, they don't have to. I, for one, believe Dak can be way better with a proper coaching staff. But that's a discussion for another day.
Now, it's time to celebrate the Cowboys' victory and get ready for a short week as the Cowboys play the Washington Redskins on Thursday.
Ezekiel Elliott’s Excellence Elevates Cowboys in Road Win
For the first time this season the Dallas Cowboys have won back to back games moving to 5-5 on the year with a 22-19 win over the Atlanta Falcons in a game that they had to win to keep their playoff hopes alive. The defense was the story for most of the game, forcing the Atlanta Falcons to kick four field goals before allowing the game-tying touchdown with less than two minutes to play. The offense had trouble getting going until they leaned heavily on their star running back, Ezekiel Elliott.
Elliott, who went over the 200 total yard mark for the second time this season and the fourth time in his career was dominant in the second half, getting hard-fought yards en route to his fifth 100 yard game of the season.
Elliott averaged 5.3 yards per carry, on 23 carries, but was also the leading receiver for the Dallas Cowboys. Ezekiel Elliott on the day caught seven passes on eight targets for 79 yards as well.
The Cowboys first touchdown drive was reminiscent of who the Dallas Cowboys were in 2016. That season, and seemingly rarely since, the Cowboys would go on these long 10-15 play drives in the second half of games and take control of the game.
On Sunday in Atlanta, they did it again.
Trailing 6-3 in the second half with the defense playing an excellent game, the Cowboys went on a 14 play drive for 75 yards that took nearly eight minutes off the clock. It was a huge drive to give the Cowboys a lead and to give their defense a much deserved rest.
On that drive, Ezekiel Elliott saw the ball seven times and set the tone picking up several first downs that helped set up Dak Prescott's four yard touchdown run that took the lead. After Leighton Vander Esch's interception on the ensuing drive, Elliott once again made a huge impact taking the ball twice for 31 yards including the 28 yard touchdown run that put the Cowboys up 19-9 with a little more than 12 minutes to play in the game. And on the final drive of the game, Ezekiel Elliott caught a pass and picked up a first down just inside Falcons territory.
Over the last two weeks, you can see a big difference in the effectiveness of the run game. Elliott spoke about Amari Cooper being one reason they've had more success in the run game.
Ezekiel Elliott on Amari Cooper: "It's just one more guy they have to worry about. It seems like he kind of was the missing piece, just because when he got here this offense started rolling. It's great having him. He's a phenomenal player. He's going to have a great future here.
Amari Cooper's presence is a big reason for the offense and you can tell they've been a more complete offense the last two weeks. The addition of Cooper puts more stress on a defense in the passing game. Like Elliott said, he's a player that has to be accounted for, making his and the offensive line's jobs easier.
The play of the offensive line has also been really good the last two weeks since Marc Colombo took over as offensive line coach and coincidentally Xavier Su'a-Filo was inserted into the starting lineup for an injured Connor Williams.
Whatever the reason, Ezekiel Elliott seems to be on an upward trajectory.
Ezekiel Elliott is now averaging 129.4 total yards per game, which sits right at his career average heading into the 2018 season. He's on pace for 1,524 rushing yards, eight rushing touchdowns, 545 receiving yards, and 3 receiving touchdowns. The touchdown totals are down from his career pace, but he's still on pace for 2,000 total yards this season. If the last two weeks are any indications, that pace could see a huge bump in the second half of the season.
Since entering the NFL, Ezekiel Elliott has: * 17 games with 100+ rush yards * 24 games with 100+ scrimmage yards * 4 games with 200+ scrimmage yards * 3,567 rush yards The one similarity between these numbers? Elliott leads the NFL in each since 2016 #Cowboys
If you needed a singular note to tell you how great Elliott's been for the Dallas Cowboys, that's the one. It's amazing that Elliott leads the league in all of those categories including rushing yards considering he sat out six games last season and had a game where he rushed for only eight yards against the Denver Broncos in week two of 2017.
And then there’s this one.
@dallascowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott had 201 scrimmage yards and a TD in the team's Week 11 victory. Elliott (4,540 scrimmage yards & 32 TDs) became the third player in @NFL history with 4,500+ scrimmage yards & 30+ TDs in their first 35 career games.
The two other players to accomplish that feat were Eric Dickerson and Edgerin James. That’s some legendary company.
Ezekiel Elliott is a big-time player for the Dallas Cowboys and someone who they can lean on the rest of the season. If the Cowboys are going to make the playoffs it will be because the run game continued to play at a high level, which opened everything else up for the offense. While many people will tell you that running backs don't matter, Ezekiel Elliott certainly proved on Sunday that he matters.
And if you watch opposing defenses on Sunday's, they act like Elliott matters. Like Sunday, Ezekiel Elliott will continue to be a threat each week and big things are coming for him and the Dallas Cowboys.
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