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 gets another victory in Anaheim

Astros overpower Angels again as magic number dwindles

Kyle Tucker had 3 of Houston's RBI on Tuesday night, including a two-run homer. Photo by John McCoy/Getty Images

After a beatdown of the Angels on Monday in the opener, the Astros entered Tuesday's game looking to replicate that success. Though Los Angeles would put up more of a fight, Houston still used their potent offense to keep the game out of reach.

Final Score: Astros 10, Angels 5

Astros' Record: 90-61, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Jose Urquidy (8-3)

Losing Pitcher: Packy Naughton (0-3)

Houston's bats keep connecting to back up Urquidy

The Astros picked up on Tuesday's game where they left off on Monday, launching homers to take and extend a lead. A leadoff walk by Carlos Correa in the top of the second set up Kyle Tucker, who drove a two-run shot. Aledmys Diaz was next, making it back-to-back jacks to push the new lead to 3-0.

That gave Jose Urquidy a lead to work with, which came in handy as former Astro Jack Mayfield cut the lead to two runs with a leadoff solo homer in the bottom of the second. Other than that, Urquidy did well through five innings, allowing just two other hits over that span. LA got to him in the sixth, getting two singles to set up a three-run homer to end his night. His final line: 5.1 IP, 6 H, 4 ER, 0 BB, 3 K, 2 HR, 79 P.

The runs keep coming

He would still leave in line for the win, though, as before that bottom of the sixth, the Astros had put up seven more runs across the fifth and sixth. A leadoff walk in the top of the fifth was followed by a two-run homer by Jose Altuve, then later in the frame, an RBI single by Aledmys Diaz made it 7-1. They pushed that to double digits in the sixth, with a leadoff solo shot by Martin Maldonado, a sac fly by Carlos Correa, and an RBI groundout by Kyle Tucker, putting them up 10-1 before the homer allowed by Urquidy cut that to 10-4.

Astros win to reduce magic number again

In the sixth, Cristian Javier took over for Urquidy, finished that inning, and returned for a scoreless seventh. He ran into Shohei Ohtani to lead off the bottom of the eighth and left a fastball in the zone, which Ohtani turned around 445 feet to make it a five-run game. Javier still got through the inning, leaving just the ninth for Houston's second reliever of the night, Josh James. James would get through a scoreless inning, erasing a leadoff walk as the lopsided win paired with an A's loss reduces Houston's magic number to 4.

Up Next: The third of this four-game series will be another 8:38 PM Central start on Wednesday. Janson Junk (0-1, 2.25 ERA) will make his third career start for the Angels, while Luis Garcia (11-7, 3.37 ERA) will have the ball for the Astros.

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