Both the Falcons and Cowboys enter Week 3 with 2-0 records. Atlanta has produced fourth-quarter comeback victories in both games, erasing a 10-point deficit last week by scoring 14 points in the final quarter against the New York Giants. Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones is tied for the NFL lead with 22 receptions and is second with 276 receiving yards.
After yesterday's Giants win over the Redskins, the Cowboys have a 1.5 game lead atop the NFC East after just two games, but will have to adjust with the injury to quarterback Tony Romo. The Cowboys boast the league’s top-ranked run defense (53 yards per game) and are third in overall defense (257.5 yards per game).
Brandon Weeden will take the helm for the Cowboys against a Falcons defense that ranks 27th in yards allowed, and they Cowboys are set to find out what life is like in the "Garden of Weeden" over the coming weeks.
|Name (Cowboys Accuracy)
Greg Cote, Miami Herald (1-1)
||"AAAWWWK!" sings the soaring Upset Bird. "Is this even an upset? What? Waaawwwk!" Yes it is an upset, with Dallas a home ’dog even at 2-0. It is because injured Tony Romo joins Dez Bryant watching from the sideline. It mostly is because Romo’s replacement is Brandon Weeden, 5-16 as a career starter including eight straight L’s. (That alone keeps Week 3’s only meeting of 2-0 teams off the Game of the Week float.) Watch the ’Boys D rise up. "Time for Dallas to experience life in the Garden of Weeden," notes U-Bird. "Garden of Weeaaawwwk!"|
Pete Prisco, CBS Sports (1-1)
||It is Brandon Weeden time in Dallas with Tony Romo hurt. Weeden looked good in relief last week against Philadelphia, but now the Falcons can plan for him. Even so, I think Atlanta playing consecutive road games will be tough to overcome.|
Peter Schrager, Foxsports (1-1)
||Brandon Weeden, Lance Dunbar, Gavin Escobar, and Terrance Williams! Ladies and gentlemen, your 2015 Dallas Cowboys! This wasn't how it was drawn up, but as long as the offensive line and defense continue to play like they have through two games, the Cowboys could be alright in the short term. Lost in Sunday's myriad headlines was the game linebacker Sean Lee had. Dominant and back to his old self. Atlanta's bandwagon is full right now, and I love the way Dan Quinn's team has rallied late. I just think the Cowboys find a way.|
Sam Farmer, LA Times (1-1)
||Atlanta’s defense isn’t loaded but Dan Quinn has it playing hard. Its offensive line isn’t very good, but Cowboys are without their two best pass rushers. Plus, without Tony Romo, Dez Bryant …|
Don Banks, SI.com (1-1)
||Dallas got the win at Philadelphia, but in the process it lost more than any other team in Week 2 thanks to Tony Romo’s broken left collarbone. And while I think the Cowboys might be able to piece things together with a combination of Brandon Weeden and Matt Cassel at quarterback, I don’t think the new arrangement in Dallas is going to get off to a winning start against a 2-0 Atlanta team that has early season mojo under rookie coach Dan Quinn. The Falcons are two for two in fourth-quarter comebacks, and Matt Ryan and Julio Jones should be able to inflict serious damage on that underwhelming Cowboys secondary.|
Elliot Harrison, NFL.com (1-1)
||Brandon Weeden gives it a solid college try. It's not enough. Sans the injured Tony Romo, Dez Bryant, Orlando Scandrick and Randy Gregory and the suspended Rolando McClain and Greg Hardy, the Cowboys don't have the horses to keep up with Matt Ryan and that Falcons offense. The key matchup will be Julio Jones versus Brandon Carr, considering Jones versus anybody pretty much works in Atlanta's favor. Carr has been so-so, but Jones? Freaking unstoppable. How does 22 catches for 276 yards and two scores (and thisclose to a third) in two games sound? Like another Falcons win|
David Steele, Sporting News (1-1)
||The Falcons are on the spot more than the Cowboys, actually. Can they sustain this, especially on defense? Beating even a depleted Cowboys team in Arlington would make them look legit.
Mike Florio, Pro Football Talk (1-1)
||The unbeaten Falcons continue their tour of the NFC East, getting the Cowboys at the best possible time. Brandon Weeden flamed out of Cleveland for a reason, and the Falcons would be wise to go easy on the blitzes until Weeden proves he can find open men against maximum coverage. The Dallas defense has looked stout, but they haven’t had to contain someone like Julio Jones, who already has become the NFL’s new Charles Johnson.|
Michael Smith, Pro Football Talk (1-1)
||17-9||I think the Cowboys can stay in contention without Tony Romo and Dez Bryant, but that’s mostly because I think the rest of the NFC East stinks. When they’re playing teams outside their division, the Cowboys will struggle, and the relentless Falcons pass rush will make life hard for Brandon Weeden.|
Now on to our customary look at some additional pick 'em panels, who come down heavily in favor of the Falcons. Note that the last column in the table shows how accurate these panels were in correctly predicting the correct outcome of the first two Cowboys games this year. Not a lot of accuracy here, but that's bound to get even worse with a Cowboys win on Sunday.
|Blogging The Boys||8
|SB Nation||0||7||.571 (8-6)|
|NFL Around The League||1||4||.545 (6-5)|
|Dallas Morning News||4||6||.523 (11-10)|
|Bleacher Report||1||8||.437 (7-9)|
|USA Today||3||4||.428 (6-8)|
Last week's expert predictions for the Eagles game showed the Cowboys as strong underdogs, with a combined 8-68 vote against the Cowboys in the pick 'em panels we follow. Also, predictions were almost uniformly for a high-scoring shootout. So much for that.
This week's vote feels similar in that the Cowboys are once again huge underdogs, but over the last few years we've come to understand that when the Cowboys are underdogs, the games usually work out in their favor.
What do you think it will take for the Cowboys to win on Sunday?