The Cowboys Report

Cowboys win 5 in a row; Colts up next

Zeke Elliot keeps rolling. Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

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

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  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 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.

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Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

After grinding through back-to-back extra-inning games in the series with the Los Angeles Angels where they would ultimately come away with the victory, the Astros had a day off on Monday before getting back into action on Tuesday. They were in Arizona for the first of three games against the Diamondbacks. Here is a rundown of the series opener:

Final Score: Astros 8, Diamondbacks 2.

Record: 6-4, first in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Cristian Javier (1-0, 1.42 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Madison Bumgarner (0-2, 7.04 ERA).

Houston takes an early lead against Bumgarner and then piles on

Houston wasted no time going after Madison Bumgarner, with George Springer going after the first pitch of the game for a groundout, then Jose Altuve launching a solo home run on the next pitch to get an early 1-0 lead in the top of the first. They added to that lead in the second inning, with Carlos Correa leading it off with a solo home run of his own, making it 2-0. After two hit batters and a single, the Astros had the bases loaded for George Springer with one out, and he would deliver a sacrifice fly to push the lead to 3-0.

They would put runners on base in the next two innings, but would not score again until the fifth when a Bumgarner fielding error on a potential double-play would bring in a run and extend the inning. Houston would go on to load the bases, setting up Kyle Tucker for an RBI-single to make it 5-1 and end Bumgarner's night. Against Arizona's new reliever, Martin Maldonado worked a bases-loaded walk to make it 6-1, then Springer followed with a two-RBI double, blowing the game open at 8-1.

Javier gets first-career win in another impressive start

With a lead in hand when he went to the mound, Cristian Javier had another strong performance in his second-ever start. He allowed just one baserunner over the first three innings, a single in the second. After those three efficient innings, he would face some adversity in the bottom of the fourth. After allowing a double and one-out walk, he would give up his first run of the night on an RBI-single to make it a 3-1 game. Luckily, a great double play behind him would get him out of the jam and the inning.

Javier was able to settle back in after that rougher inning, getting quick, scoreless innings in the fifth and sixth, earning him the win. His final line: 6.0 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 0 HR.

Yet another rookie pitching debut as Houston's bullpen finishes the win

Bryan Abreu was first out of Houston's bullpen, taking over for Javier in the bottom of the seventh. He would not have an inning to remember, allowing a leadoff double followed later by two walks to load the bases. He then walked in a run, making it 8-2, and prompting another call to the bullpen. Enoli Paredes would enter and get the final out of the seventh inning.

Paredes ran into trouble of his own in the bottom of the eighth, loading the bases after a walk and two singles, but with some help from Houston's defense would keep it a six-run lead heading to the ninth. In yet another Astros debut for a pitcher in 2020, Humberto Castellanos entered in the bottom of the ninth, and he recorded the final three outs to close out the victory for Houston.

Up Next: This series continues on Wednesday with the middle game of this three-game set at 8:10 PM Central. Lance McCullers Jr. (1-0, 5.40 ERA) will return to the mound in another start for the Astros, while Robbie Ray (0-2, 8.64 ERA) will look to turn things around in his early season with the Diamondbacks.

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