THE COWBOYS REPORT
Cowboys get first road win; Falcons up next
The Dallas Cowboys (4-5) got their first road win of the season Sunday night when they defeated their division rival Philadelphia Eagles (4-5) by the score of 27-20. The victory moves Dallas into second place (via tiebreaker over Philly) in the NFC East and two games back of the Washington Redskins.
The Cowboys looked like a completely different team from the one that took the field against the Titans last week. The Dallas defense was focused, energetic, and hit hard the entire game. They forced a three and out on Philly’s first possession and intercepted Carson Wentz on their second possession. Young linebackers Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch were all over the field. They combined for 17 total tackles (16 were solo tackles) and Vander Esch’s interception in Eagles territory helped give Dallas the early lead. He also made a key tackle in the game on a 4th and 7 that basically sealed the win.
The Dallas offense also looked different from the week before. They were clicking on all cylinders and got the ball to their play makers for a total of 410 yards. The most important stat was they committed ZERO turnovers. Quarterback Dak Prescott was 26 of 36 for 270 yards, 1 touchdown, and NO INTs. He also ran in for a 1 yard touchdown on a quarterback sneak right before the end of the first half. He targeted his best receiver Amari Cooper early and often. They connected 6 times for 75 yards on 10 targets and Copper was tied for the team lead in receptions with Ezekiel Elliott.
Even with both sides of the ball playing well, Zeke Elliott was the most important part of the game. He ran 19 times for 151 yards, had 6 catches for 36 yards and scored 2 touchdowns (1 rushing, 1 receiving). I think head coach Jason Garrett remembered that Elliott is their main go-to guy and he got him the ball as much as he could. At one point in the game the Eagles had tied it up at 13, Dallas then went on a nine play drive where Zeke got the ball seven times and capped it off with a touchdown to reclaim the lead.
This was one of their best games of the year so far and they need to keep it going if they want to win their division. The few wrinkles they had was the offensive line allowed Prescott to get sacked four times and the defensive secondary gave up 360 yards through the air, most of which was to Pro Bowl tight end Zach Ertz who had 14 catches for 145 yards and 2 touchdowns.
Players to watch
Ezekiel Elliott (running back): As we saw last week, the Cowboys win or lose depending on whether or not Zeke can make plays. Good news is they are facing the 27th ranked defense Atlanta Falcons this week. He should be able to feast against them.
Allen Hurns (wide receiver): The $12 million dollar free agent pick up made a clutch 23 yard third down catch Sunday night on the game-winning drive. It looks like the addition of Cooper has opened things up for him and could have more opportunities to make plays down the field.
Byron Jones, Chidobe Awuzie, Xavier Woods, and Jeff Heath (defensive secondary): These guys are going to have to play great. They are going against the fourth best passing offense in the league which includes the NFL’s leading receiver Julio Jones. Someone is going to need to step up so they don’t get torched through the air.
Sunday the Cowboys (4-5) will be on the road again taking on the Atlanta Falcons (4-5) in a must win game for both teams. Kickoff is set for 12 p.m. at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia. Dallas is looking to add another road win that will put them at .500 as the Falcons are trying to do the same but are going to be very upset due to the fact that they just got beat by the Cleveland Browns. The Cowboys are going to have to get the ball to Zeke and Cooper as much as they can if they want to keep pace with Atlanta’s pass heavy offense.
If you have any fantasy players, the only must start players are:
Cowboys: Ezekiel Elliott (RB), Amari Cooper (WR), Dak Prescott (QB)
Falcons: Matt Ryan (QB), Julio Jones (WR), Tevin Coleman (RB)
For you gamblers out there, the Cowboys are +3.5 and the over/under is 48. I am probably going to stay away from this game but if you must play it, take the Cowboys on anything over 3. If it’s less than 3, the smart play would be to take the Falcons at home.