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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After a rough, disheartening loss the night before to even the series at one game apiece, the Astros tried to shake it off and regroup for a win on Thursday to get the series win against the Diamondbacks in Arizona. Here is a quick recap of the finale:

Final Score: Diamondbacks 5, Astros 4.

Record: 6-6, second in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Junior Guerra (1-0, 0.00 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Ryan Pressly (0-1, 40.50 ERA).

Bielak tosses an impressive start as Houston puts him in winning position

After both teams finished the first three innings scoreless, the Astros were able to get a little bit of good luck on their side, unlike the night prior. Jose Altuve started the inning with a much-needed single, stole second, then moved to third on a groundout for the second out. That set up Yuli Gurriel, who hit a ball down the third-base line that would strike the bag and bounce away from Arizona, allowing Altuve to score and put Houston up 1-0.

Though he likely would have preferred more run support, Brandon Bielak made do with that one run in his first career MLB start. He was able to complete five innings of work, holding Arizona scoreless over that span despite allowing a runner in each inning. He left in line for the win, with a final line of 5.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 1 K, 0 HR.

Altuve extends the lead, then Diamondbacks go ahead

Jose Altuve helped double the lead in the top of the sixth, connecting for a one-out solo home run to make it 2-0. With Bielak's night over at five innings, Cy Sneed took over in the bottom of the sixth and allowed back-to-back one-out doubles to cut Houston's lead in half. He allowed a single to put runners on the corners before Dusty Baker would move on to another reliever to try and preserve the lead. Blake Taylor would enter but allowed the tying RBI-single to take Bielak out of winning position. Taylor would go on to allow a go-ahead run before getting out of the jam.

In the bottom of the seventh, Taylor was still on the mound but would only get two outs before another call to the pen. Andre Scrubb would enter and get the final out of the inning. In the top of the eighth, Jose Altuve would improve to 3-for-4 on the night with a two-out double, setting up Alex Bregman for a go-ahead two-run home run to make it 4-3, Houston.

Ryan Pressly allows the walk-off

Scrubb went back to the mound in the bottom of the eighth and was able to record a 1-2-3 inning to move the game to the ninth. After a scoreless top of the ninth, Ryan Pressly would attempt to get the save in the bottom of the inning. Instead, he would allow the walk-off, loading the bases with no outs on a walk and two singles before a two-RBI single to give Arizona the win and the series victory.

Up Next: The Astros will travel to Oakland to kick off a three-game weekend series with the A's on Friday at 8:10 PM Central. The A's will send Chris Bassitt (1-0, 0.93 ERA) to the mound while Houston will turn to Zack Greinke (0-0, 5.00 ERA) to help cut down Oakland's division lead.

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