3 down, 2 of those on the road and the Saints head back from the West coast with a 2-1 winning record following the victory at the Clinc. Back in the dome with some renewed hope and confidence in Teddy Bridgewater the Saints will be up for this one. The Cowboys come to town undefeated, 3-0 record with victories over the Giants, Redskins and Dolphins they haven’t really faced a fancied team this season. These are teams you expect the Cowboys to beat, big test for both teams here and it should be a really good match up on Sunday Night Football – Primetime in the Superdome. The Cowboys have gone from a Defensive “punch you in the mouth” team to a more offensive “we will outscore you” team, let’s look at some key players for the opponents.
Dak Prescott is currently the highest rated QB in the league (on ESPN) with a QBR of 90.4. He has racked up 920 yards, 9 touchdowns and 2 picks. Personally Patrick Mahomes has been better for me but I’m just following the stat line on Dak. With a completion % of just under 75% he has had a great season, especially in week 1 when he was lights out.
The Cowboys #4 has slightly tailed off in the following weeks with the Cowboys choosing the ground game more, especially in week 3 when both RBs went for over 100 yards on 32 total carries. A really crucial part of this game is the Saints defensive line against Prescott. If the Saints can turn the amount of pressure they create into sacks, they will win this game. Cam Jordan had 11 total pressures last week but no sacks, if you take into account he was playing Russell Wilson, who is the best air/ground QB in the league, it makes sense. Hitting Dak is crucial. The Saints cannot afford to let him run and get 1st downs. 69 yards with his feet in week 2 was the only real evidence of Dak running this year. Hit him early, stop him running, tackles for loss and eat some Dak Prescott flavoured jambalaya is a massive key to this game. Saints D-line VS Cowboys O-line looks massive.
Ezekiel Elliott has signed his new contract and back running for the Cowboys. 289 rushing yards and 2 touchdowns isn’t huge for the #1 RB but he has been sharing the backfield duties with rookie Tony Pollard who also got 100 yards in their previous game. With the Saints D-Line and Line Backer groups performing well this season they will be hoping the run defence stands tall. If Elliott gets on a roll there could be a large plays run off, there won’t be any more slippages this week with dome conditions.
Now. Wide receivers. Amari Cooper went for an MRI on Wednesday but it has come back all clear. There has to be some kind of issue of pain to go for the scan in the first place, this is huge for the Saints with Michael Gallup likely already out. If Cooper doesn’t see the field as much as normal, Prescott’s no.1 target won’t be getting those yards which have been huge so far this season. 238 with 4 scores for the big wideout already, taking pressure off of the Saints corner backs without his presence would help massively, especially with the No.2 potential side lined as well. With Marshon Lattimore not playing to his potential so far this season it could be the key to the Saints getting a W here.
Tight End Jason Witten is back in Dallas. The unretired retiree, former ESPN MNF pundit will see a lot more of the ball should Cooper not be available. He’s obviously not the same type of player with the speed and run after catch abilities being the key differences between them but he is a big framed, “go up and get it” tight end who can hurt teams in the red zone.
This doesn’t appear to be the same level of defence for Dallas as it was last year. This will be news to Teddy Bridgewater’s ears. Just 5 sacks in 3 games so far, 6 forced fumbles (3 recovered) and 0 picks this won’t strike fear into the Saints offensive line and unit as a whole.
DeMarcus Lawrence is the star on the pass rush side. He has 1.5 of those 5 sacks and is a handful for any offensive line. As one of the better O-lines in the league the Saints should be able to deal with him and the returning Robert Quinn upfront.
Establishing a run game for New Orleans is a big factor in this game too. The Cowboys have given up 90 rushing yards per game (10th in the NFL) and the Saints are 17th in the run game. Most of that is Alvin Kamara going solo. Latavius Murray needs to help out this game and wear down this strong line backer group.
Another big injury factor could be Xavier Woods being side lined. Currently questionable, Woods has played well out of the safety position, especially in deep pass coverage. Although Teddy Bridgewater is yet to throw a long ball, the more confident he and Sean Payton gets in calling chunk plays, Woods being out could affect this.
The last time these two met in 2018, the Cowboys came out 13-10 victors in Dallas. Drew Brees was held to just 127 yards and Michael Thomas just 40 on 5 catches. The Cowboys did a fantastic coverage job of Thomas being Brees’ top target was unavailable. This time, although it isn’t Drew, the Saints have Ted Ginn Jr. available. I’m picking his match-up or Tre’Quan Smith (if available) to be the option of 30-40 pass plays. We will of course see the usual screens and dump offs to Kamara which he will turn from 3 yard gains to 13 yard gains by his pure skill and balance.
This is a tough one, it really is. The inclusion or not of Amari Cooper and Xavier Woods could be pivotal. As I always mention, momentum will be important. The home crowd will be loud, after revenge on Dallas and looking to support Teddy and the offense. Getting out to an early lead, keeping the dome crowd in the game is essential. Falling two scores back in the 1st quarter and it’s the road teams to take.
Hit Prescott, run the ball, use the deep shot option and let Alvin Kamara do his thing and the Black and Gold could be looking at 3-1. Let Prescott dictate proceedings and give up big yardage plays, again will be the Saints downfall.
Sitting on the fence, it’s going to overtime and whoever wins the coin toss wins. So coin flip game indeed (P.S. Tails never fails)
Cowboys 28 –28 Saints