The Cowboys Report
Cowboys win 5 in a row; Colts up next
The Dallas Cowboys (8-5) won their fifth game in a row on Sunday when they defeated their division rival Philadelphia Eagles (6-7) in overtime by the score of 29-23. According to ESPN's Football Power Index, the win has given them a 99.3% chance of winning the NFC East and at worst, the fourth seed in the NFC side of the playoffs.
The Cowboys dominated the entire game on both sides of the ball but they had three turnovers, which kept the Eagles in the game and allowed them to force it into overtime. Dallas had the ball for 45 minutes and 33 seconds and gained 576 yards of offense. Philadelphia only gained 256 yards and only made 16 first downs as opposed to the Cowboys who made 32 first downs.
With the Eagles keeping the game close, Dallas was forced to keep the ball in the hands of their athletes. Ezekiel Elliott touched the ball 40 times and even though he didn't score, he is the main factor of the offense. He had 28 carries for 113 yards and 12 catches for 79 yards. His most important play was his 4th and 1 conversion in overtime with around 4 minutes left on the Philly 19 yard line.
Quarterback Dak Prescott was responsible for the Cowboys' three turnovers but luckily was able to survive them. He set career highs in completions, attempts, and passing yards. He finished 42 of 54 for 455 yards, 3 touchdowns, and 3 turnovers (2 Ints, 1 fumble). The good thing was he looked for and got the ball to his best players all game long. He targeted No. 1 receiver Amari Cooper 13 times, who caught 10 of them for 217 yards and three touchdowns. His addition to the team has been a big reason for the win streak and the Cowboy passing offense has increased significantly with him on the field.
The Cowboys defense also played a great game. Linebackers Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch were all over the field. They combined for 15 tackles (9 solo) and most importantly kept the Eagles' best pass catcher in check. Pro Bowl tight end Zach Ertz only had 5 catches for 38 yards and they also took away their running attack. The Eagles leading rusher Josh Adams had 7 carries for 36 yards.
Dallas is now up two games on the Eagles and three up on the Redskins with only 3 games left to play. Their remaining schedule is at the Colts on Sunday, home to the Buccaneers on 12/23 and at the Giants on 12/30.
Players to Watch
- Ezekiel Elliott (running back): After week 14 Zeke is now the NFL's leading rusher but could have a hard time going against the Colts and their 8th best rush defense. If Dallas continues to give him the ball over 25 times a game, the offense should continue to move.
- Dak Prescott (quarterback): Made a few mistakes last week but also played well enough to overcome them. Let's see if he can cut down on the turnovers and keep up the great chemistry with Amari Cooper against the Colts 15th best pass defense.
- 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 super star QB Andrew Luck and his 6th best passing offense. They are going to have to stay close to his favorite receiver T.Y. Hilton who is coming off a big game against the Texans last week.
The Cowboys (8-5) will be on the road Sunday playing against the Indianapolis Colts (7-6) at Lucas Oil Stadium. Kickoff is set for noon and the Cowboys could be in for a challenge. The Colts are in must-win mode to stay alive for the playoffs and can't afford a loss, and the Cowboys have all but locked up the division.
If you have any fantasy players, the only must start players are:
Cowboys: Ezekiel Elliott (RB), Amari Cooper (WR), Dak Prescott (QB)
Colts: Andrew Luck (QB), T.Y. Hilton (WR), Eric Ebron (TE)
For you gamblers out there, the Cowboys are +3 and the over/under is 47. With the possibility of the Cowboys motivation in jeopardy I will most likely stay away from this one but if you have to play it, Dallas at +3 or more would be the play.