I can't remember the last time that Cowboys Nation's hopes were so low. The Dallas Cowboys have faced quite a few tough games in the recent past, but before this team takes on the 8-1 Philadelphia Eagles on week 11's edition of Sunday Night Football, fans know this will be more than a tough game.
If the Cowboys lose tonight, playoff hopes won't look very... well, hopeful. On the other hand, should the Cowboys win, this could be the one game they need in order to completely turn around their season.
With that being said, I want to leave something clear. Every Gameday, the one and only wish on our minds is: just win.
My weekly Cowboys' wishlists are meant to be a fun read for all of Cowboys Nation looking for a healthy, light discussion on what would be some fun scenarios. Now, I present to you this week's edition of Cowboys Wishlist!
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Wish #1: Rookie Defensive Backs Shine
Although he still has a long way to go, rookie CB Jourdan Lewis has been more than impressive during his first year in the NFL. However, I'm not talking about Lewis right now.
I want to see Xavier Woods and Chidobe Awuzie stand out versus the Eagles. With Jeff Heath unlikely to play this week, Woods is expected to start at safety against an offense led by the MVP front-runner Carson Wentz.
Woods has played very well just about every time he's been on the field, and I truly believe he will end up with Jeff Heath's job once the latter is cleared to return.
Second-round pick Chidobe Awuzie looks ready to come back to the football field after fully practicing for two consecutive weeks. We might see him at cornerback as well as at safety.
With a secondary that has some issues but still is very promising, seeing some results by the defensive backs would brink a needed-spark for a defense that will be playing without its center piece, Sean Lee.
Wish #2: Dak Outplays Wentz With an MVP-like Performance
Oh, the Eagles.
Just when we thought we couldn't hate our rivals more, the Wentz-Prescott rivalry was born. I think it's insanely fun to have a rivalry like this taking place in the division, specially since both QBs are only in their second year of NFL action.
If the Cowboys want to win this game, the key on offense has got to be Dak Prescott.
It doesn't matter if the back-up running back committee is pretty solid, Scott Linehan has to center this offense around Dak. Prescott needs to put on a show at Jerry's World, an MVP-like performance to give this football team a chance at victory.
All of Cowboys Nation would go crazy if Prescott outplays Wentz tonight. Make it happen, 4.
Wish #3: DeMarcus Lawrence Wins the Battle vs Lane Johnson
Speaking of keys to win football games, on the defensive side of the ball, the player who'll have to step up for the Cowboys, is DeMarcus Lawrence. We all know Sean Lee won't be playing so it's time for this pass rush to take it to another level.
Both Lawrence and Irving have been killing it all season long, but this is their chance to prove they can win football games.
Although I'm sure we'll see a bit of Lawrence at RDE, I think he'll be lining up against Eagles' Right Tackle Lane Johnson most of the game. I'm counting on D-Law beating Johsnon to get after Wentz, giving our beloved Cowboys a shot.
Wish #4: Offensive Line Allows Less Than 3 Sacks
Remember that one time when Dak Prescott was sacked a bazillion times in Atlanta? I'm pretty sure we don't want to see anything like that ever again. Tyron Smith hasn't been ruled out yet, but it doesn't seem like he'll play today.
Instead, look for Byron Bell to start at LT for the Cowboys. While I don't expect him to play like Chaz Green a week ago (if you can call that "playing"), I certainly don't expect him to be awesome.
However, as Staff Writer Kevin Brady wrote earlier this week, the Cowboys have had a week to prepare for this game. If Dak Prescott can leave this game without being sacked more than three times, call it a win for this OL... or at least, improvement.
Wish #5: Cowboys Get Away With a Trick Play
Dallas should be desperate to get a win. With a 5-4 record, if they want to be able to play January football there is little room for error. At times like this, NFL teams sometimes go to bold plays to get a spark and try to turn things around.
We saw them trying to pull off a fake punt in Atlanta last week, but I'm thinking about another memory.
Last year, on fourth and eight yards to go, Chris Jones ran a fake punt in the third quarter of a Sunday Night showdown between the Eagles and the Cowboys. I was there, and it was one of the best moments of my life.
We all know how the story ends. The Cowboys rallied from a ten-point deficit to beat the Eagles in overtime.
I would love to see a trick play in the works once again. It would provide this football team a big spark, and they might need it to win this game.
I'm just saying, Jason Garrett... get bold and try something similar.
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On a more serious note, Cowboys Nation's most important wish today will be about only one thing. The 2017 Dallas Cowboys have a chance to shock the world. Philadelphia is coming from a bye week, and it just might be one of those games when the underdog surprises the entire league and its fans.
Dak Prescott is a very special player, and he makes special things happen. Now would be the perfect time to prove it.
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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