COWBOYS REPORT

Cowboys outplayed by Bills; Bears up next

Cowboys outplayed by Bills; Bears up next
Dallascowboys.com

The Dallas Cowboys (6-6) were beat 26-15 by the Buffalo Bills (9-3) on Thanksgiving Day.

Recap

For the first time in five weeks, the Cowboys quickly scored first on their opening possession that gave them an early 7-0 lead. The problem was that drive was the only good thing they did on offense. They didn't score again until late in the 4th quarter when the game was out of reach.

Quarterback Dak Prescott was 32/49 for 355 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 2 turnovers (1 interception and 1 fumble). Yes, when you look at the stat line, it looks like he had a great game but they are mostly empty numbers. Prescott connected with 8 different receivers and Amari Cooper led the team in receptions (8) and yards (85).

Pro Bowl running back Ezekiel Elliott looked like he was set for a big day after the Cowboys' first drive but ended up becoming a non-factor once Dallas started trailing by double digits. Zeke finished the game with 12 carries for 71 yards and 7 catches for 66 yards.

Dallas drops to (6-6) but stay in first place atop the NFC East because their division rival Philadelphia Eagles (5-7) lost on Sunday.

3 Things to Watch For

1.Ezekiel Elliott (Running Back): Zeke had a decent game this past week but will have to be better to carry his team to a victory. He will be going against another top 10 defense and will have Khalil Mack who is one of the best players in the NFL across from him.

2.Cowboys Defense (All): Look for the defense to have a big day. The Bears offense is average to below average and their quarterback has a tendency to turn the ball over. I can see multiple players recording a sack.

3.Brett Maher (Kicker): 2nd year kicker has not had the best season so far and needs to start making his field goal attempts. He missed 2 last week that would have helped Dallas stay in the game. Hopefully he can get his game back on track.

Coming Up

The Dallas Cowboys (6-6) will be on the road taking on the Chicago Bears (6-6) on Thursday night in Chicago, Illinois at Soldier Field. Kickoff is set at 7:20 pm Central time. The Cowboys still have not beat a team with a winning record this year, luckily the Bears area .500 team and Dallas should be able to come away with a win. The Cowboys should have a good mix of both run and pass plays that will allow their athletes to make big plays.

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)

Bears: Allen Robinson (WR), David Montgomery (RB)

For you gamblers out there, the Cowboys are currently -3 and the over/under is 42.5.I love Dallas this week. I would definitely take them at -3. I believe their #1 offense will overcome a terrible Chicago offense.

Most Popular

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome

Listen Live

ESPN Houston 97.5 FM
Astros on the hunt. Composite Getty Image.

With the Astros' surge from 10 games out of first place to within two games of Seattle, catching and going past the Mariners has naturally become the top objective. It's no given to happen but it's right there. In the final series ahead of the All-Star break, while the Mariners are in the midst of four games with the lowly Angels, the last two World Series champions renew (un)pleasantries at Minute Maid Park.

The Astros enter the weekend five games ahead of the Rangers. They lead the season series with the reigning champs four wins to three. While the Astros can't quite finish off the Arlingtonians by sweeping them in this three game set, shoving them eight games back (even further back of Seattle and the current Wild Card teams) and clinching the tiebreaker would seem close to a death blow. Taking two out of three would be fine for the Astros. If the Rangers win the series, they are clearly still in the American League West and Wild Card races coming out of the All-Star break.

Last year the Rangers had the best offense in the AL. So far in 2024 they rank a mediocre eighth in runs per game. Nathaniel Lowe is the lone Ranger (get it?!?) regular playing as well as he did last season. Corey Seager has been fine but not at the MVP runner-up level of last year. Marcus Semien is notably down, as is 2023 ALCS Astros-obliterater Adolis Garcia. Stud 2023 rookie Josh Jung has been out with a broken wrist since ex-Astro Phil Maton hit him with a pitch in the fourth game of this season, though fill-in third baseman Josh Smith has been the Rangers' best player. 21-year-old late season phenom Evan Carter largely stunk the first two months this season and has been out since late May with a back injury. Repeating is hard, never harder than it is now. Hence no Major League Baseball has done it since the Yankees won three straight World Series 1998-2000.

Chasing down the Division at a crazy clip

From the abyss of their 7-19 start, the Astros sweep over the Marlins clinched a winning record at the break with them at 49-44. Heading into the Texas matchup the Astros have won at a .627 clip since they were 7-19. A full season of .627 ball wins 101 games. If the Astros win at a .627 rate the rest of the way they'll finish with 92 wins, almost certainly enough to secure a postseason slot and likely enough to win the West. Expecting .627 the rest of the way is ambitious.

With it fairly clear that Lance McCullers is highly unlikely to contribute anything after his latest recovery setback, and Luis Garcia a major question mark, what Justin Verlander has left in 2024 grows more important. With the way the Astros often dissemble or poorly forecast when discussing injuries, for all we know Verlander could be cooked. Inside three weeks to the trade deadline, General Manager Dana Brown can't be thinking a back end of the rotation comprised of Spencer Arrighetti and Jake Bloss should be good enough. The Astros have 66 games to play after the All-Star break, including separate stretches with games on 18 and 16 consecutive days.

All-Star MIAs

Viewership for Tuesday's All-Star game at Globe Life Field in Arlington will be pretty, pretty, pretty low in Houston. One, All-Star Game ratings are pitiful every year compared to where they used to be. Two, the Astros could be down to zero representatives at Tuesday's showcase. Kyle Tucker was rightfully named a reserve but had no shot at playing as he continues the loooong recovery from a bone bruise (or worse) suffered June 3. Being named an All-Star for a ninth time was enough for Jose Altuve. He opts out of spending unnecessary time in Texas Rangers territory citing a sore wrist. This despite Altuve playing four games in a row since sitting out the day after he was plunked and highly likely to play in all three games versus the Rangers this weekend. Yordan Alvarez exiting Wednesday's rout of the Marlins with hip discomfort and then missing Thursday's game seem clear reasons for him to skip, though he has indicated thus far he intends to take part. Yordan is the most essential lineup component to the Astros' hopes of making an eighth straight playoff appearance.

Ronel Blanco should have made the American League squad on performance, but pretty obviously his 10 game illegal substance use suspension was held against him. As it works out, Blanco will pitch Sunday in the last game before the break which would render him unavailable for the All-Star Game anyway. Blanco is eligible to pitch, but given the career high-shattering innings workload Blanco is headed for, no way the Astros want him on the mound Tuesday. Just last year the Astros kept Framber Valdez from pitching in the game.

While waiting, and waiting, and waiting on Tucker's return, the Astros have also been waiting on Chas McCormick to get back to something even faintly resembling the hitter he was last year. McCormick routinely looks lost at the plate. He has four hits (all singles) in his last 32 at bats with his season OPS pitiful at .572. During the break the Astros should seriously weigh sending McCormick to AAA Sugar Land and giving Pedro Leon a try in a job share with Joey Loperfido.

*Catch our weekly Stone Cold ‘Stros podcast. Brandon Strange, Josh Jordan, and I discuss varied Astros topics. The first post for the week generally goes up Monday afternoon (second part released Tuesday) via The SportsMap HOU YouTube channel or listen to episodes in their entirety at Apple, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome