BILLS 26, COWBOYS 15

Cowboys vs. Bills: Good, bad and ugly

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Turkey wasn't the only thing that got carved on Thanksgiving Day. Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills cut up the Cowboys defense Thursday for a 26-15 victory. I hope everyone ate before this game, because defeat surely left a bad taste in Cowboy's fans mouth.

The Good

Stop the presses, Amari Cooper had a catch! In all seriousness, Cooper was the lone bright spot for an otherwise abysmal Cowboys offense. He had eight catches for 85 yards on 11 targets. Good but not great numbers, but a huge upgrade over the performance he put on last week against Stehpon Gilmore and the New England Patriots.

For once the Cowboys offense did not get off to a slow start. On their opening drive, Dak Prescott played with confidence and had connections to Cooper and Ezekiel Elliot for big gains. On second and goal, Prescott was able to find a wide open Jason Witten for the first touchdown of the game. It seemed as though that was all the Cowboys could achieve on offense until garbage time in the 4th quarter.

Another good thing about this game…. The halftime show wasn't bad. Most NFL games on Thanksgiving have halftime shows that are forgettable at best. But the Cowboys brought on pop star Ellie Goulding to entertain the crowd while Jason Garrett tries to figure out how to salvage this game and his career (More on Garrett Later). Let's be honest, she put on a better show that the Cowboys offense.

The Bad

Do not let Prescott's numbers fool you. Most of his completions came in the fourth quarter with the Bills playing prevent defense. Prescott looked great in the opening drive, but afterwards looked as though he couldn't quarterback to save his life. He had one interception and one fumble before halftime. Luckily, the inception lead to a missed field goal by Steven Hauschka, but the fumble lead to a Buffalo special in which Allen handed the ball off to Andre Roberts, who gave the ball to John Brown to throw to a wide open Devin Singletary for their second touchdown of the game. Hauschka later missed the extra point, but Prescott and the offense had no answer for the Bills scores until garbage time when it was too little too late.

Speaking of bad kickers, Brett Maher was absolutely terrible. He missed both his field goal attempts and made one extra point. He missed one field goal from beyond 30 yards and one field goal from beyond 40 yards. How is it possible to play better in a bad weather game on the road than at home with perfect conditions? Maher has looked wildly inconsistent which is a common theme for the Cowboys.

Let's face it; the Cowboys don't even look like a playoff contending team. If it wasn't for the fact that they play in a bad division, the Cowboys could have been written off after their loss to the Jets. Time and time again they constantly fall under pressure, and when their games become must win games, they fold like a house of cards. Despite all of the talent this roster has, they have continued to underperform and shot themselves in the foot time and time again.

The Ugly

Coming off of a short week, players were expected to miss some time due to injuries. Leighton Vander Esh and Jeff Heath both missed this game and the absence shows. Allen and the Bill's offense essentially could do whatever they wanted to against the Cowboys. Stopping the run proved most difficult, for Singletary, Allen, and Veteran Frank Gore combined to rush for 117 yards and one touchdown by Allen.

The moment you all have been waiting for Jason Garrett has to go, period. Jerry Jones after the game said now is not the time for a coaching change, focused on getting to the Super Bowl, according to ESPN. All this does is assure Jason Garrett will at maximum last until the end of the regular season. The writing is on the wall. The Cowboys need to move on, and Jerry's clear frustrations at the game were evident that change is coming. It's only a matter of when not if anymore.

The ugliest part of the game took place after the final score. Multiple reports claimed that screaming could be heard from the Cowboys' locker room. And who was behind all of the screaming? Allegedly it was Michael Bennett trying to encourage his team, but it must have been canceled out with all of the other noise going on in the room. Jerry Jones even came down to speak to his team, but supposedly left mid speech with tears in his eyes. Seems as if things are intensifying emotionally for the Cowboys, and it can only get worse form here on out.

The Cowboys play the equally underachieving Bears next Thursday night. Both teams are fighting for their playoff lives at this point of the season so it will be interesting to see what happens when two desperate teams square off under the bright lights of Thursday Night Football.




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Houston needs a win to advance

ALWC Game 2 Preview: Astros vs. Twins

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It took all nine innings, but the Astros rallied late and took Game 1 by a score of 4-1 and are in the driver's seat in this best-of-three series. They'll return to Target Field, home of the Twins, on Wednesday afternoon to try and get the win and advance to the ALDS. Here's what you need to know about Game 2:

Game Facts

When: Wednesday, 12:08 PM Central

Where: Target Field - Minneapolis, Minnesota

TV: ESPN 2

Streaming: ESPN App

Pitching Matchup: Jose Urquidy+ vs. José Berríos.

Series: HOU leads 1-0.

Series Schedule

Date & Time (Central) Location Pitching Matchup
Game 1 Astros 4, Twins 1 Target Field, Minneapolis Greinke vs. Maeda
Game 2 Wed 9/30, 12:08 PM Target Field, Minneapolis Urquidy+ vs. Berríos
Game 3* Thu 10/1, 12:08 PM Target Field, Minneapolis McCullers Jr.+ vs. Pineda+

* If necessary.
+ Projected starters.

Game Storylines

Houston's offense has to get going earlier

The Twins' error in the ninth inning in Game 1 was a gift for the Astros that they were able to take advantage of and score the winning runs. It's unlikely to be handed another chance like that in the postseason, so in Game 2, it's paramount that Houston creates their own opportunities at the plate.

The good news is, every batter in the lineup was able to reach base in the first game, either by hit or walk. However, they would go 2-for-9 with runners in scoring position while leaving nine on base during the game. Because they can't expect to have two pitchers to combine for a one-run game on Wednesday, they will have to carry over the momentum from the end of Game 1 into Game 2 to build a lead their bullpen can carry.

Trust your arms to navigate through

Whether it's Jose Urquidy, who is the likely candidate, or anyone else who ends up starting Wednesday's game, the Astros have to be prepared to have a longer stretch of innings filled by their bullpen. Despite his struggles to end the regular season, Greinke did well only to allow one run to the Twins over his four innings in Game 1.

You should expect a similar outcome in Game 2, where hopefully your starter can hold the Twins at bay for as long as they can before needing to make the change to relievers. It will be interesting to see how Dusty Baker plays that situation, mostly dependent on the score at the time, as he could have someone like Cristian Javier come in for multiple innings. The only thing the Astros shouldn't do is fire too many of their bullets and put their chances in a potential Game 3 at risk.

Be sure to check SportsMap after the final out for an in-depth recap of the game, and follow me on Twitter for updates and reactions throughout each playoff game: @ChrisCampise

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