THE COWBOYS REPORT

Cowboys win 3 in a row; Saints up next

Zeke Elliot has been a beast for the Cowboys. Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

The Dallas Cowboys (6-5) are on a three game winning streak after defeating the Washington Redskins (6-5) by the score of 31-23 and taking over first place of the NFC East on Thanksgiving Day.  

Once again, they had a solid game plan with a good mix of run and pass plays.  For the second game in a row they took their opening possession for a 10-plus play scoring drive, this one ended with an Ezekiel Elliott rushing touchdown.  Head coach Jason Garrett has finally realized that they must get to ball to their best players if they want to win.

Elliott touched the ball 31 times which amounted to 26 carries for 121 yards and one touchdown as well as five catches for 22 yards.  With the Redskins defense having to worry about Zeke; Pro Bowl wide receiver Amari Cooper was able to have his best game as a Cowboy.  He had eight catches on nine targets for 180 yards and two touchdowns. Most notably was a 90 yard catch and run towards the end of the 3rd quarter.  

With the Cowboys offense clicking on all cylinders, Quarterback Dak Prescott was 22 of 31 for 289 yards, two touchdowns and NO turnovers!  He looked for Cooper early and often as well as completing passes to 8 other players. Prescott also capitalized on his running ability by rushing in for a touchdown down on the goaline early in the 4th quarter to put the Cowboys up 31-13.

The Dallas defense played great as well.  They held the Redskins to 80 yards rushing, intercepted Colt McCoy three times and had three sacks.  Rookie linebacker Leighton Vander Esch was tied for the team lead in tackles with nine (seven solo).  

With the win, the Cowboys are ahead of Washington via a better divisional record but they still have to keep winning.  They are going to have their hands full this week as the host the New Orleans Saints (10-1).

Players to Watch

  1. Ezekiel Elliott (running back): Zeke is now the NFL’s leading rusher and has big load to carry on his shoulders this week.  He will be going against the #1 rushing defense in the league. The Saints have only given up 805 rushing yards this season.

  2. Dak Prescott (quarterback): Is going to have to throw the ball quite a bit to keep pace with the No. 1 scoring offense in the league.  Luckily, the Saints are ranked 30th in pass defense and he should be able to connect with Cooper for more big plays.

  3. Byron Jones, Chidobe Awuzie, Xavier Woods, and Jeff Heath (defensive secondary): These guys are going to have to be up to the challenge and make big plays against Drew Brees and the high scoring Saints offense.

Thursday night the Dallas Cowboys (6-5) will be hosting the New Orleans Saints (10-1) at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas and kickoff is set for 7:20 pm CST.  Dallas is facing their best opponent left on their schedule and could have trouble keeping up with New Orleans. They are going to have to try and control the clock and minimize the number of times MVP candidate Drew Brees has the ball.  If they can get Elliott and Cooper plenty of touches they could have a good chance at getting another win.

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

Cowboys:  Ezekiel Elliott (RB), Amari Cooper (WR), Dak Prescott (QB)

New Orleans:  Drew Brees (QB), Alvin Kamara (RB), Mark Ingram (RB), Michael Thomas (WR)

For you gamblers out there, the Cowboys are +7.5 and the over/under is 53.  The Saints have won their last five games by double digits. If you play anything, I think the right side would be New Orleans.

 

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THE LEFT TURN

NASCAR: Coca-Cola 600 preview, picks

Watch out for Ryan Blaney this weekend. Photo via: Wiki Commons

It’s a Memorial Day Tradition; The NASCAR Cup Series heads home to Charlotte for the annual Coca-Cola 600. This race is probably the third most crucial race all season, behind the Daytona 500 and the Season Finale at Phoenix. Anyone who wins this race will always be able to say that they were Coke 600 champions. No race on the schedule is as long as this one, because of this there will be a 4th stage added to the race. Teams will be provided 13 sets of tires, and if the last few weeks have been any indication, they will need all the tires they can get. With the race being as long as it is, there is a good possibility this could be an attrition race and the driver that survives will more than likely win. The record for the most cautions in NASCAR history was 22 cautions, at this same race in 2005. Come Sunday, I bet we get close to that number.

What's the deal with all of these tire failures? Last week in the All-Star race we saw drivers like Kyle Busch, Kyle Larson, and Erik Jones all crash out because they had a flat. There are many factors that could be contributing to this, for one the tires are much wider and the sidewalls are much more narrow. Because of this, the tire falloff is much shorter, so now instead of going maybe 40-45 laps on one set of tires, drivers can now only go 25-30 laps. The other major facet is that a lot of teams are running much lower air pressures to get the car to handle better by being closer to the ground. Goodyear and NASCAR usually require the right side tires to run around 51-52 PSI, the rule however isn’t enforced for the left side tires, so drivers will push the limits to see how much they can take out to make the car faster. The fact that we were seeing such tire ware on smooth surfaces like Texas and Atlanta is a clear sign that there is a problem, but not all of it is on Goodyear. Only time will tell how this develops on tracks with old abrasive surfaces, like when they go back to Bristol in the fall.

One of NASCAR’s newest teams, Trackhouse racing, made a bit of a surprise announcement this week. Starting at Watkins Glenn in August, the team will run a third car with a series of international drivers, starting with 2007 Formula 1 World Champion Kimi Raikkonen. This is something that I think is interesting for the sport. I am a bit surprised that another team hasn’t already done this before. Having drivers like Kimi, one of the more world renowned racers in F1, can really bring a whole new audience to NASCAR. There have been rumors on whom some of the other drivers might be, from Daniel Riccardo to even Lewis Hamilton. There will be a lot of intrigue about who will be the next driver.

The driver that I have winning this weekend is Ryan Blaney. After winning the All-Star race, it seems like Roger Penske and the rest of the Ford camp are picking up steam. Overall, Blaney tends to struggle at this track with an 18.8 average finish, but if last week is any indication of how his car will run on mile and halves like Charlotte, he will be a fierce contender for the win.

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