THE COWBOYS REPORT
Cowboys win 4 in a row; Eagles up next
The Dallas Cowboys (7-5) won their fourth game in a row Thursday night when they defeated the New Orleans Saints (10-2) by the score of 13-10. This is their third game in a row where they scored on their opening possession and never trailed the rest of the game.
Dallas held one of the best offenses in the league to only 10 points and now ESPN Stats & information give them an 80.2 % chance of reaching the playoffs. They played great defense and held the Saints to nine possessions by controlling the ball. The Cowboys had the ball for 36 minutes and 53 seconds of game.
The Cowboys defense was swarming all game long. They didn’t allow the Saints to pick up a first down until their third possession of the game. Linebackers Leighton Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith were the top two leading tacklers and combined for 19 total (both had 6 solo). They kept constant pressure on Drew Brees and caused him to start a game 0-for-4 passing for the first time in his 18 year NFL career.
With the Cowboys defense keeping the Saints from moving the ball, the offense was able to grind out first downs and keep the Saints offense off the field. Pro Bowl running back Ezekiel Elliott touched the ball 29 times. He had 23 carries for 76 yards, 6 catches for 60 yards and a touchdown. Quarterback Dak Prescott was very efficient and went 24 of 28 for 248 yards and one touchdown. He also ran the ball five times for 22 yards. He connected with superstar receiver Amari Cooper 8 times for 75 yards and was also able to find rookie receiver Michael Gallup on a 40 yard pass.
The Cowboys play calling and execution on both sides of the ball was excellent all game long. They had a great mix of run/pass plays and it seemed like they were running plays out of the Saints playbook. If they keep this up they could have a chance to make a real run in the playoffs.
With the win, the Cowboys now have a 76.9 % chance of winning the NFC East according to ESPN Football Power Index. Dallas can basically clinch the division with a win against the Eagles on Sunday.
Players to Watch
Ezekiel Elliott (running back): After week 13 Zeke is the NFL’s second leading rusher. He is 25 yards behind Todd Gurley. He might have a hard time finding some running lanes as the Eagles are the 10th best rushing defense in the league. The Cowboys night need to get creative and get him the ball on some screens and swing passes.
Michael Gallup (wide Receiver): Had his best game of the year last week and led the team with 76 receiving yards on 5 catches. He looks to have good chemistry with Dak and had an opportunity to take advantage of Philadelphia’s 26th ranked pass defense.
Leighton Vander Esch (Linebacker): Dallas’ best defensive player is going to have to come up big and guard the middle of the field against Pro Bowl tight end Zach Ertz who torched them earlier this season for 145 yards and two touchdowns.
Sunday afternoon, the Cowboys (7-5) will be hosting their division rival Philadelphia (6-6) in which the winner will almost be guaranteed to win the NFC East division. Kickoff is set for 3:35 pm CST at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX (AKA: Jerry’s World). Both teams are coming off wins this past week and the Cowboys are going to have to be prepared because games against the Eagles are always a struggle but if they keep playing the way they have been playing they should be able to win a fifth game in a row.
If you have any fantasy players, the only must start players are:
Cowboys: Ezekiel Elliott (RB), Amari Cooper (WR), Dak Prescott (QB)
Eagles: Carson Wentz (QB), Zach Ertz (TE)
For you gamblers out there, the Cowboys are -3.5 and the over/under is 43. With the Cowboys defense playing so well recently, I would lean Dallas on this one but only if you can get -3 or less.