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    Oh How Times Have Changed: Cowboys Not The Same Team From Week 1

    Nobody saw this coming 13 weeks ago.

    The 11 game win streak, the playoff birth, having a chance to clinch the during the re-match with the .

    None of it.

    13 weeks ago, and looked like rookies, for the first and last times of their careers. Dak's performance wasn't impressive, and left many of us to wonder just how quickly could get back. Elliott looked unsure of himself at times, making some crazed fans even call for more carries for . Luckily, they both got it figured out pretty quickly.

    The Improvement of Dak Prescott

    Completing 25 of 45 passes for just 227 yards, Dak avoided the big mistake but also the big play. Prescott threw just 10 of those passes more than 15 yards downfield. When he did throw that far, chaos ensued, as Marty Callinan of ESPN.com pointed out earlier this week. A yards per attempt of 3.6 and a completion percentage of just 20% on his deep ball was the Achilles heel in a Cowboys loss.

    Since then, Dak has been one of the best downfield passers in the entire NFL, as you can see in the graphic above.

    Of course some will make the argument that Dak's struggles say more about the ability of the Giants to confuse and stop him than it does about his improvement over the course of the season. But, I would have to disagree.

    As good as we think the Giants is, and as good as many think and are, the Giant still rank just 25th in pass defense, allowing 265.3 yards per game. San Francisco, Philadelphia, Washington, Green Bay, Minnesota, Pittsburgh, and even Cleveland all rank better than New York here. And, of course, the Cowboys beat every single one of those teams.

    In terms of opponents passing yards per attempt, the Giants are much better, ranking 7th in the league at 6.4 YPA. But once again, considering the development of Dak in this which has occurred over the last 13 weeks, this number should not scare you.

    With now healthy and in full swing of the offense, Dak has an arsenal of weapons at his disposal which most teams can only dream of. Maybe the deadliest of those weapons is lined up behind him in the backfield.

    Feed ZekeCowboys Headlines - Cowboys Pregaming: Will Ezekiel Elliott Emerge?

    For Ezekiel Elliott, his first game was by far his worst game. Rushing for only 51 yards on 20 carries, Zeke could not find his stride in the Cowboys loss. A lot of this had to do with the , who struggled to block Damon Harrison and Johnathon Hankins on the inside.

    Since week 2, however, Zeke leads the league in designed runs for 10 or more yards with 37. During that same time span, 28 teams do not have that many 10-yard designed runs, courtesy of Stats and Info. This number is absolutely insane, and further proves how dynamic the Cowboys run game has been all year long.

    Well, all year besides this one game. What was it about the Giants which made it so difficult for the Cowboys to get going?

    Of course, their had a lot to do with it. Hankins and Harrison are both beasts in the middle of the defense, leading the Giants to the third best rush defense in the NFL (according to opponent yards per attempt).

    The Cowboys also tried too many times to block on the backside with . It didn't work too well at all, and I don't expect it to be tried often this week. Let Tyron eat him, forget about tight ends.

    But I also think the Cowboys own inexperience and lack of familiarity brought them down. Zeke had only played in one game, and got very limited snaps there. He hadn't run against an NFL defense yet, or even behind his offensive line.

    13 weeks in, with the offensive line gelling and Elliott making a push for NFL , I expect them to have much more success.

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    Kevin Brady
    Kevin Bradyhttps://kevinrobertbrady.wordpress.com
    Die-hard Cowboys fan from the Northeast, so you know I am here to defend the 'boys whenever necessary. Began writing for a WordPress Cowboys Blog, and have been with ITS since 2016.

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    Bryson Treece

    Dak was a little rough in week 1, but Zeke was really rough. He was rushing every play, not being patient and allowing blocks to be made before he got there. I’m a firm believer that the success of the run game creates success through the air, and that week was a bad week for both.

    Looking forward to the rematch. I don’t expect a huge improvement, but definitely enough to cover the 1 point the Cowboys lost by in week one.