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Game Notes

The Cowboys and Redskins Rivalry

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Children in America grow up playing Cowboys and Indians and some things never change. The Cowboys vs. Redskins rivalry is one of the greatest in sports. These games bring out the best and the worst of both teams’ fans.

The first time I attended a Cowboys game was on a Monday night in Texas Stadium against the division rivals from Washington. The Cowboys were dominant in a defensive battle all the way down the stretch until Mark Brunell hit Santana Moss for two straight touchdowns to win the game.

Since then, the Redskins have remained at the top of my list of most disliked NFL teams.

Enough of my personal vendetta. This is a huge game for the Cowboys and one that they must and should win. Of course these games are never easy because of the intense competition present between the rivals.

Washington has had a rough go of it so far this season but they’re coming off of a bye week during which they most certainly have worked on game-planning for this important divisional game. They’re seeing this as the perfect opportunity to get back on track for this season and hopefully win the division again.

Dallas has other ideas. However, to win this game, the Dallas defense is going to need to play much better than they have the past two weeks. It will be important early in this game to put pressure on second year players RGIII and Alfred Morris who shredded Dallas last season.

This season the Redskins’ QB has already shown a higher tendency to turn the ball over, more than he did last year. Capitalizing on this and creating some early turnovers is necessary. Expect the Dallas defense to come in to this game with a little chip on their shoulder after the subpar performance last week.

Offensively, Dallas wants to see the same kind of production they had against the Broncos, and honestly I expect them to do just that. The Dallas air attack was lethal last week, and that was without Miles Austin who should play this week. If Dallas can build a lead, look for them to put the ball in Demarco Murray’s hands frequently. He is fourth in the league in rushing yards and has been averaging 4.8 yards per carry.

Things to worry about

The way Denver was able to run the ball last week worries me; especially as I recall how well Washington was able to run the ball against Dallas last year. RGIII and company haven’t employed the read-option much this year, but I would not be surprised at all if they use it extensively this Sunday against Dallas.

Demarcus Ware really needs to be effective for the Dallas pass-rush to be anything special. The nagging injuries he’s been dealing with seem to be dragging down his level of play. If Ware and the rest of the defensive line don’t get some hits on RGIII early, there may be reason to worry.

Things to look for

With the recent improvement in Terrance Williams play, and the return of Miles Austin, I don’t see any way that the Washington secondary can contain Bryant, Witten, Austin and Williams. Look for another unstoppable air assault from the start. If Romo’s passes are on target, Dallas could jump out to an early lead.

Mo Claiborne will hopefully have his confidence back this week after being the first player to intercept Peyton Manning this season. If Claiborne builds on that success and confidence, which is essential for a cornerback, he will start to play at the level the coaching staff has been expecting. Claiborne gets another interception this week.

Final Prediction

I think Dallas is going to proceed with Jerry Jones’ positive attitude and build on the loss last week against Denver. The team will come out hungry for a win, and although it won’t be easy against their biggest rivals, expect the Cowboys to go 2 and 0 in the division.

Final score: Dallas 34, Washington 21



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Game Notes

#ATLvsDAL: Betting Preview, Trends, And Prediction

Kevin Brady

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Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

This week's gambling preview focuses on the Cowboys week 11 opponent, the Atlanta Falcons. Dallas beat the now 4-5 Eagles last Sunday to improve their own record to 4-5. Atlanta lost on the road to Cleveland last week to drop their record to 4-5 on the season.

It's an 8-8 league, isn't it?

Dallas returns to the scene of the 2017 crime this Sunday, traveling to Atlanta where Chaz Green and Dak Prescott were destroyed almost exactly one year ago. Let's take a look at the line and the quality of these teams to see which way it could go.

The Line

Cowboys +3, O/U 48 points. 

Dallas Cowboys

Dallas saved their season on the road last Sunday night, defeating the Philadelphia Eagles and getting right back in the thick of things in the NFC East race. Still, we can't simply ignore what the other 8 games of data have told us about the Cowboys and their offensive quality.

The addition of Amari Cooper has clearly helped the offense, opening up the passing game a bit and allowing for Dak Prescott to have a reliable "number one" receiver. The team's results overall have been mixed the first two games of the Cooper-era, but he has been consistently good in both match-ups.

Defensively the Cowboys continued to impress last week, though "cornerback opposite of Byron Jones" is quickly becoming a potential need. Leighton Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith stole the show last Sunday, and both the present and the future of the Cowboys' linebacking corps is strong. It could be argued the Cowboys have yet to see a passing attack like the one Atlanta brings, however, making Sunday a big test for them defensively.

Atlanta Falcons

Similar to the Cowboys, Atlanta has been very much up-and-down this season. In a way, though, they are just the opposite-day Cowboys, with their offense putting up insane numbers most weeks and their banged up defense often letting them down.

Though it looked like they were turning it around in recent weeks, Atlanta had probably their most disappointing loss in quite some time, losing at Cleveland to the young Browns. Still, Matt Ryan and Julio Jones lead a prolific passing attack which can strike fear in any defense.

Byron Jones and company will have their hands full with the Falcons' cast of skill players on Sunday, and as usual, stopping their passing attack will all begin up front with the pass rush. Hopefully Randy Gregory can build on his week 10 performance to produce even more results this week.

Trends

  • Surprisingly, the score total has now hit the over 4 of the Cowboys' last 6 games.
  • The Cowboys are 2-5 against the spread their last 7 games against the Falcons.
  • The Cowboys are also 2-4 against the spread their last games at Atlanta.
  • Dallas is just 1-4 straight up on the road this season.
  • The score total has gone over 4 of Atlanta's last 5 home games.
  • The Falcons are just 2-5 against the spread their last 7 games.

Prediction

Who the hell knows, man.

This team is incredibly difficult to project week to week, probably about as volatile as they've been since all those 8-8 seasons. This line started at Cowboys +4.5 and has since moved down to just +3, meaning they are valued as a pick 'em on a neutral field.

Given how inconsistent, yet talented, both teams are this line feels exactly right. I'll take the Cowboys and the points because why not? I expect this to be a tight game throughout, and could come down to the kicking game in the fourth quarter.



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Game Notes

X-Factor: Xavier Su’a-Filo Excellent in Cowboys Win over Eagles

John Williams

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X-Factor: Xavier Su'a-Filo Excellent in Cowboys Win over Eagles 4

Heading into this week's game against the Philadelphia Eagles the Dallas Cowboys were down starting Left Guard Connor Williams as well as starting Center Travis Frederick. Getting his first start for the Dallas Cowboys since being signed off the street during the season as guard depth was Xavier Su'a Filo and he played excellent.

Filling in against a front seven as good as the Eagles is a pretty difficult ask, but Su'a-Filo had 31 games in the previous two seasons with the Houston Texans, so he's not your typical interior backup.

In particular, Xavier did a great job of getting to the second level quickly and sealing off the linebacker, which allowed Ezekiel Elliott to spring for several big gains on the day.

X-Factor: Xavier Su'a-Filo Excellent in Cowboys Win over Eagles

Here on Ezekiel Elliott's big run, you can see Su'a-Filo and Left Tackle Tyron Smith start a combo block on the three-technique defensive tackle. After the initial engagement, Su'a-Filo comes off his block quickly and gets to the linebacker and prevents him from filling the hole and doubling back to cut Elliott off and Elliott runs for 32 yards down the middle of the field.

X-Factor: Xavier Su'a-Filo Excellent in Cowboys Win over Eagles 1

Again, we see Tyron and Xavier work a combo block before Su'a-Filo comes off his block to engage the linebacker and prevent him from getting back to Elliott after hits the hole to the left side.

X-Factor: Xavier Su'a-Filo Excellent in Cowboys Win over Eagles 2

This time Xavier Su'a-Filo works with Joe Looney to prevent the one-technique defensive tackle from slanting down the line and disrupting the point of attack. Su'a-Filo then quickly releases to linebacker and seals him to the outside and creates a big hole for Elliott to run through for yet another big gain.

X-Factor: Xavier Su'a-Filo Excellent in Cowboys Win over Eagles 3

This is another big gain for Ezekiel Elliott and the Dallas Cowboys offense that seemed to be able to run right at the heart of the Philadelphia Eagles defense all night. This time Su'a-Filo stumbles off the snap but is able to regain his balance and neutralize the middle linebacker yet again allowing Elliott to get to the second level quickly and get the Dallas Cowboys into field goal range late in the game.

Film Review: Xavier Su'a-Filo Excellent in Cowboys Win over Eagles 1

Su'a-Filo is matched up against one of the première defensive tackles in Fletcher Cox. Cox looks to get leverage on Xavier but is unable to fully get to Dak Prescott as he steps up into the pocket. The offensive tackles didn't expect Dak to step up into the pocket and were unable to hold up the Philadelphia Eagles defensive ends and Prescott is sacked. Su'a-Filo, though isn't completely walked back and Dak has a lane to step into in the pocket. Obviously it's not a perfect play for the Cowboys, but Su'a-Filo eventually tosses Fletcher Cox to the ground. That kind of play strength has been missing from rookie Connor Williams.

Film Review: Xavier Su'a-Filo Excellent in Cowboys Win over Eagles

In pass protection, Xavier held up well. Cox attempts to use power to knock him off-balance, but Su'a-Filo holds up to the power and Dak Prescott finds Allen Hurns for a big gain down to the one yard line setting up Dak Prescott's rushing touchdown.

The Cowboys run game has had a difficult time getting going for much of the season. Ezekiel Elliott and the Cowboys offensive line played their best game of the season. It looked like the dominant run game we've grown accustomed to. Pro Football Focus attributed to hurries to Su'a-Filo on the night, but zero quarterback hits and zero sacks. Running to the left, Elliott ran for 113 yards at a clip of 8.61 yards per carry including three carries for more than 10 yards and Su'a-Filo was a big part of that.

Xavier did a nice job stepping in for starter Connor Williams and had a nice day both in pass protection and in the run game helping to give strength and athleticism at the point of attack. His ability to get to the next level helped spring Elliott for several big runs on the night, which was a huge key to the football game. Coming into the week 10, the Philadelphia Eagles had allowed the second fewest rushing yards in the NFL.



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Game Notes

Takeaway Tuesday: Amari Cooper Proving to be Worth It

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Will McClay Breaks Down Cowboys Vision for New WR Amari Cooper 1

Just when all hope was lost, the Dallas Cowboys went on the road and surprised fans with a 27-20 win over the Philadelphia Eagles. Both on defense and offense, it was a game that showed us plenty of silver linings to be excited about. While a playoff run certainly remains pretty difficult to accomplish, at least the team isn't leaving without a fight.

The last Cowboys' victory came approximately a month ago, so it is with great pleasure that I share with you this week's edition of "Takeaway Tuesday!"

Leighton Vander Esch Is A Stud, And Should Be For A Long Time

Vander Esch Among Best Cowboys' Players

Just before last game, I wrote about how Leighton Vander Esch could be in contention for Defensive Rookie of the Year. Playing on Sunday Night Football (on national TV), the rookie helped his case a lot with 13 solo tackles and an interception.

Little by little, he's making sure the Cowboys know they can move on from frequently injured Sean Lee down the road. Vander Esch can play. Forget about him being an impressive rookie, he's currently one of the best players on this roster.

Scott Linehan Shouldn't be Off the Hook

As any Cowboys fan, I loved the win. There were quite a few things to like about the offense on Sunday, but there's no denying play calling could've been way better. As much as the Dallas Cowboys are still in the hunt in a mediocre division, Offensive Coordinator Scott Linehan should remain on the hot seat.

Ezekiel Elliott took the Cowboys to the 5-yard line by leaping over a human at full speed and right after the Cowboys stopped using him on that drive. Against the Titans, the offense found itself on third and 16 twice and ran a running back screen pass. In Philadelphia, they were on third and 16 once and they ran a RB screen once again.

Dallas has left a lot of points on the field this year and in big part thanks to play calling. Linehan shouldn't be safe right now.

Amari Cooper Proving to be Worth It

After two games wearing the Star, Cowboys Nation is feeling a lot better about trading a first rounder for Amari Cooper. On the field, he's proven to be an impact player. An impact that has been felt immediately, by the way. Out of 11 catches, Cooper has gotten the Cowboys' offense ten first downs.

Versus the Eagles, though, his impact is felt beyond his single stat line.

On Sunday Night, he accounted for six catches and 75 yards. He helped QB Dak Prescott get 270 yards through the air and most importantly, to spread the football.

Bobby Belt on Twitter

7 different Cowboys have a reception of at least 13 yards tonight.

That stat above is an underrated one. No wide receiver in next year's Draft would have the kind of impact Amari Cooper is having on this football team. In the long run, lots of people could be eating their words after heavily criticizing the Cowboys' trade for the two-times Pro Bowler wide receiver. Hopefully, that's the case.

Tell me what you think about "Takeaway Tuesday: Amari Cooper Proving to be Worth It" in the comments below, or tweet me @MauNFL and let’s talk football! If you like football and are looking for a Dallas Cowboys show in Spanish, don’t miss my weekly Facebook Live! show, Primero Cowboys!



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