COWBOYS REPORT

Cowboys come up short; Bills up next

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The Dallas Cowboys (6-5) were unable to score a touchdown for the first time all year in their 13-9 loss to the New England Patriots (10-1).

Recap

The Cowboys' No. 1 offense was shut down this past Sunday by New England's top ranked defense. Dallas was unable to cross the goal line and their best offensive players were kept in check. The Cowboys gave the ball to the Patriots twice (Interception and a blocked punt) deep in their own territory that led to 10 point deficit early in the 2nd quarter.

Quarterback Dak Prescott was 19/33 for 212 yards, 1 interception, and NO touchdowns. He was forced into having his worst performance of the year so far. Prescott was unable to connect with super star Amari Cooper who had zero catches.Receivers Michael Gallup and Randall Cobb both led the team with 4 catches each.

Pro Bowl running back Ezekiel Elliott had 21 carries for 86 yards and 4 catches for 40 yards. He was unable to make any big plays as the Cowboy offense went 2-13 on third down. With the offense unable to move Zeke was unable to carry his team to a much needed win.

Dallas falls to (6-5) but luckily they stay in first place atop the NFC East because their division rival Philadelphia Eagles (5-6) also lost.

3 Things to Watch For

1.Ezekiel Elliott (Running Back): Zeke was contained this past week, but I would look for him to have a break out game this week.He will be going against another top 3 defense but the Buffalo Bills are average against the run and strong against the pass.

2.Randall Cobb (Wide Receiver): Led the team this past week in receiving and should have another opportunity to do it again with Bills lock down cornerback Tre'Davious White shadowing Amari Cooper or Michael Gallup.

3.Jason Garrett (Head Coach): Finally looks to be on the "Hot Seat" according to owner Jerry Jones.Garrett had some very questionable play calls last week and was once again out coached. Let's see if he can figure something things out and put his best athletes in position to make big plays.

Coming Up

The Dallas Cowboys (6-5) will be at home going up against the Buffalo Bills (8-3) on Thanksgiving Day in Arlington, Texas at AT&T Stadium. Kickoff is set for Thursday at 3:30 pm Central time. The Cowboys are up against a team with a winning record and so far this year, that looks like a loss for them. Hopefully, Zeke will be able to carry the team to a win with a 20+ touch game.I can see it going either way and at least it will be a very good game.

If you have any fantasy players, the only must start players are:

Cowboys: Ezekiel Elliott (RB), Amari Cooper (WR), Dak Prescott (QB), Michael Gallup (WR), Randall Cobb (WR)

Bills: Josh Allen (QB), John Brown (WR), Devin Singletary (RB)

For you gamblers out there, the Cowboys are currently - 6.5 and the over/under is 45. After last week, there is no way I can lay 6.5 points. I would lean on Buffalo but I think the under is the play here.

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Fortunately for Houston, the Yankees are also going through a rough patch. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images.

The Astros playing all their summer home games in air-conditioned Minute Maid Park waters down one aspect of the “dog days of summer” component of the baseball season, but the Astros are dealing with the dog days nevertheless. Even Justin Verlander was afflicted some Wednesday (these things are relative) as the Texas Rangers bombarded him for three runs. Three! Verlander’s season earned run average shot all the way up to 1.85 as he gave up more than one earned run for the first time in eight starts. It’s been a frustrating stretch for the Astros and their fans. A second series loss to the awful Oakland A's, a home series loss to the going nowhere Red Sox, settling for a split in Cleveland after winning the first two games of a four game series, and the as usual also-ran Rangers pestering them. Frustrating, but really not a big deal.

Since exploding out of the All-Star break with five straight wins, the Astros have stumbled to a 7-9 mark in their last 16 games. It happens. 162 games is a lot, and the gap between the haves and have-nots in terms of winning percentage is much smaller than it is in the NFL or NBA. The good news is the Yankees have been stumbling longer. There was no chance the Yankees were going to sustain the pace that had their record at 56-20, but their 15-20 mark since enabled the Astros to eliminate an eight game deficit in the race for the best record in the American League. The Astros have the clearly easier remaining schedule and hold the tiebreaker.

Back in 2017 the Astros blew the doors off the American League with a 42-16 start to their season. As you may recall they’d wind up winning the World Series. Their finishing kick to the regular season was spectacular, 22-8 the final month after acquiring Verlander from the Tigers. The Astros won 101 games in 2017. So simple math tells you for the nearly half the season that fell between the 42-16 start and the 22-8 close, the Astros were a perfectly mediocre ballclub winning 37 and losing 37. The point is, it’s the full body of work that defines the regular season. The Astros opened this season 11-11. Meaning between that and the recent 7-9 struggle, the Astros were an awesome 53-21. The 162 games are about how you finish overall to be positioned for the playoffs. The best team over the whole regular season infrequently wins the World Series. Since the advent of the Wild Card in 1995 in only seven of 27 seasons has MLB’s best team in the regular season won the postseason tournament.

Head-scratching lineup decisions continue

Dusty Baker does some things with the Astros lineup that are simply ridiculous. Among others General Manager James Click is either aware of this or overmatched in his job. Click is not overmatched in his job. Jake Meyers has been overmatched in his job offensively for a month now. As in nine for 64 at the plate, a .141 average and hard to be that bad .422 OPS. Chas McCormick has clobbered left-handed pitching this season while being inept vs. right-handers. So Dusty starting Meyers vs. lefty Martin Perez Tuesday then McCormick vs. righty Glenn Otto Wednesday was daffy. Not exactly shocking they combined to go 0 for seven.

Batting Yuli Gurriel second is also silly, with a bit of a caveat. Yuli has fallen way over the hill. His bat speed has obviously slipped, his plate discipline declined. Martin Maldonado is closer in on base percentage to Gurriel than Gurriel is to McCormick. I mean, come on. The somewhat caveat in Dusty’s defense is the Astro offense has more holes than it has had in years, so he has fewer good options. Michael Brantley’s get on base skill is sorely missed, looking more and more like for good. Over his last 50 games Jeremy Pena is batting .204 with a sub-.600 OPS. Other than McCormick vs. lefties the center field output stinks, Kyle Tucker’s season to date is disappointing, and while Alex Bregman has been much better the past six weeks he’s nowhere close to the stud of 2018 or superstar of 2019. Oh, there’s this. DUSTY, TREY MANCINI SHOULD BE IN THE LINEUP FOUR OUT OF EVERY FIVE GAMES. Mancini should be the primary first baseman, Gurriel more of a pinch hitter and defensive replacement.

McCullers returns this weekend

Lance McCullers has made nearly 12 million dollars so far this season. Saturday he’ll finally throw a pitch that counts. The five year 85 million dollar contract extension the Astros gave McCullers was an eyebrow raiser at point of signing given Lance’s injury history. Will he show enough to be in the Astros’ postseason starting rotation? Verlander is the unchallenged number one with Framber Valdez second. Cristian Javier and Jose Urquidy would be the other two. Does McCullers supplant one? Luis Garcia’s ERA over his last 10 starts is 4.76, so he presently would not get consideration, though plenty can change. Under eight weeks of regular season remaining for water to find its level.

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