THE COWBOYS REPORT

Cowboys win two in a row; Redskins up next

Zeke Elliot and the Cowboys face the Redskins Thursday. Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

The Dallas Cowboys (5-5) won two games in a row for the first time all season on Sunday by defeating the Atlanta Falcons (4-6) 22 -19.  Now they are in prime position to take control of the NFC East division by winning their third game in a row on Thanksgiving Day against the Washington Redskins (6-4).  

The Cowboys played a great game, both offensively and defensively.  They took their opening possession and turned it into a 15-play 85 yard drive that resulted in a field goal.  Once again they had a good balance between run/pass plays and took quite a few shots deep to speedster Michael Gallup.  The defense played great and was responsible for the lone turnover of the game. No surprise, that linebacker Leighton Vander Esch came up with a clutch interception early in the 4th quarter that led to a Dallas touchdown.

Other than their first drive of the game, the Dallas offense wasn’t able to do much in the first half and they were down 6-3 at halftime.  The second half was a different story; they leaned on super star Ezekiel Elliott and rode him to victory. Elliott carried the ball 23 times for 122 yards, 1 touchdown and also led the team in receiving with 7 catches for 79 yards.  It’s no secret that if Zeke is going to get the ball 30 times a game, the Cowboys are going to win more than they lose.

Quarterback Dak Prescott was 22/32 for 208 yards and most importantly NO turnovers!  He was very efficient and should have had a passing touchdown on their opening drive but sure handed slot receiver Cole Beasley dropped a wide open touchdown pass early in the 1st quarter.  He was able to spread the ball around and used his legs to score a running touchdown that put the Cowboys up 12-9 and they never trailed again.

The Cowboys seem to be improving week after week and now a have a 51% chance to win their division, according to ESPN’s Football Power Index.  Their defense played great and shutdown everyone on the Falcons offense except for Julio Jones, but in fairness nobody in the league can stop him.  The one wrinkle they had on offense was they didn’t get the ball to their best receiver Amari Cooper. He only got the ball 3 times for 36 yards on 5 targets.  That is not a smart thing to do if you want to win the NFC East.

Players to Watch

  1. Ezekiel Elliott (running back): Zeke is 2nd in the league in rushing and is going to have to keep carrying the team this week.  He will be going against the 1st place Washington Redskins and their 6th best rushing defense.  

  2. Michael Gallup (wide receiver): Gallup only had one catch last week but it was a clutch 3rd down conversion on the game winning drive.  The Cowboys tried to capitalize on his speed and threw him multiple deep balls against Atlanta.  Hopefully Dak can connect a few times this week against Washington’s 24th ranked passing defense.  

  3. Leighton Vander Esch (linebacker): Vander Esch has been the Cowboys defensive MVP so far and just keeps making more plays.  He has an interception in back to back games and is going to have to keep the defense stable this week.

Thanksgiving Day the Dallas Cowboys (5-5) will be hosting the Washington Redskins (6-4) at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas and kickoff is set for 3:30 pm CST. Dallas looks to have a slight edge on their side already as Washington will be without the starting Quarterback Alex Smith.  Instead, they will be going against veteran backup Colt McCoy and former pro-bowler Adrian Peterson. A win would put the Cowboys in first place via tiebreaker over the Redskins. A loss will essentially put them 2 games back as Washington would be 2-0 in the head to head tiebreaker.   With the Cowboys looking to make a run at the playoffs, this is another must win game because they will be hosting the offensive juggernaut New Orleans Saints the following week.

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

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

Washington:  Adrian Peterson (RB), Jordan Reed (TE)

For you gamblers out there, the Cowboys are -7.5 and the over/under is 41.  7.5 is a lot of points to give to any team, the only way I would play it is if the number is 7 or less.  

 

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Houston has lost seven of eight

Mariners ride big fifth inning to series win over Astros

Jake Odorizzi earned his second loss as an Astro Sunday. Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images.

With the losing streak behind them by taking the middle game on Saturday night, the Astros returned to T-Mobile Park on Sunday afternoon to try and make it back-to-back victories to take the series. Instead, they'd suffer their seventh loss in the last eight games.

Final Score: Mariners 7, Astros 2

Astros' Record: 7-8, fourth in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Ljay Newsome (1-0)

Losing Pitcher: Jake Odorizzi (0-2)

Odorizzi locks in through four while Houston grabs a lead

Jake Odorizzi did not start his afternoon the way he needed to in order to have a good rebound outing compared to his first start. In the 37-pitch first inning, he issued two walks and an RBI-single, putting the Mariners at a significant advantage early. Odorizzi flipped the switch, though, finding a rhythm to retire the next ten batters after that RBI-single to get through four innings with just one run allowed.

Offensively for Houston, they quickly responded to Seattle's run in the first with one of their own in the top of the second, capitalizing on some shoddy defense by Seattle to get Carlos Correa to second to set up an RBI ground-rule double by Aledmys Diaz, tying things up 1-1. It stayed that way until the top of the fifth when a leadoff walk by Chas McCormick would turn into a run after a stolen base and two sacrifice flys to give Houston a 2-1 lead.

Mariners explode for four in the fifth

The lead was short-lived, as Seattle would explode in the bottom of the fifth, getting a leadoff single and one-out walk to set up a two-RBI triple by Mitch Haniger to go ahead 3-2. That would prompt Dusty Baker out of the dugout to end Odorizzi's day and move on to Brooks Raley. Raley would not fare any better, giving up a two-run homer to Ty France to extend Seattle's new lead to 5-2. He would finish the inning, putting Odorizzi's line final: 4.1 IP, 3 H, 4 ER, 3 BB, 7 K, 89 P.

Seattle takes the series

Seattle would strike again in the bottom of the seventh against Joe Smith. After a leadoff walk, the Mariners would get back-to-back one-out RBI-doubles to extend their lead to 7-2. After Smith in the seventh, Peter Solomon would make his major-league debut in the bottom of the eighth and work around a one-out walk for a scoreless inning. Houston would then come up empty in the top of the ninth, dropping the finale and the series to Seattle.

Up Next: The Astros will travel to Denver tonight and get an off day tomorrow. Tuesday night, they'll start a quick two-game set with the Rockies at 7:40 PM Central. Houston currently has Lance McCullers Jr. (1-1, 5.27 ERA) penciled in as their starter, but with ongoing illness, he has not yet been fully confirmed. For the Rockies, Jon Gray (1-1, 2.87 ERA) is expected to start.

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