The Dallas Cowboys and Oakland Raiders are getting set to play a football game today. This is as true today as it will be on December 17th, but unlike that future Sunday today isn’t a game that matters.
Of course, it matters in the sense that it’s a game with repetitions, opportunity, and the chance to get properly primed for the 2017 season. But in reality, this game means nothing. It’s preseason, but it is Week 3 of it, so the good news is that we’ll get to see the most action from the starters until September 10th’s kickoff.
In the spirit of properly preparing ourselves for the game, it’s time for BTB’s weekly rendition of five bold predictions. Let’s dance, shall we?
Dak Prescott will be sacked at least once
The Dallas offensive line looked fantastic during last week’s preseason action against the Indianapolis Colts, but the Oakland Raiders are a different beast to tame.
Oakland brings to Dallas the reigning defensive player of the year in Khalil Mack, and he gets to go up against a position-transitioning La’el Collins. The point here isn’t to undermine Collins’ abilities at right tackle, but this is one of the most difficult match-ups that he could possibly draw across the NFL.
La’el is going to have to win against a lot of talented pass rushers along that right side this season. If anyone can benefit from the reality that tonight’s game will simulate, it’s him, but it’s likely that he’ll lose at least once.
The Cowboys defensive live will look promising against the Oakland starters
Nobody is Tyron Smith, but the Raiders have a left tackle of their own who’s quite a lot to be proud of - Donald Penn. Penn ended his holdout this week and returned to the Raiders, but considering he has been holding out it’s not likely he’ll see a lot of playing time tonight.
The Raiders have a great offensive line in general (some people even believe it’s better than that of the Cowboys), but we all know that a hold out can sometimes mean chemistry isn’t totally there. It makes sense that Dallas would be able to capitalize on this, perhaps to the degree that it’s even Taco Charlton and we all lose our minds.
Ezekiel Elliott is going to look like the NFL’s leading rusher
Darren McFadden, Alfred Morris, and Rod Smith have all looked fantastic at different points across this preseason. That being said, they are all far and away less talented than Ezekiel Elliott.
This will be the first, and only, action of Elliott’s 2017 preseason period. The Cowboys offense has been a smooth-operating machine with the likes of the back-up running backs, but they’re about to have the most high-quality fuel pumped into their engine.
Zeke is going to look like a monster, a monster I said. He’s going to look like the best running back in the National Football League. Get hyped.
Noah Brown is going to physically dominate Obi Melifonwu
Throughout the process leading up to the draft, there was a certain safety that a lot of people wanted to bring to Dallas for a reunion with Byron Jones - Obi Melifonwu.
Melifonwu played at UConn, and he’s making his NFL debut tonight in Dallas. While Dallas ended up with Xavier Woods (the greatest safety ever obviously), Dallas also picked up BTB fan-favorite Noah Brown throughout draft weekend.
Brown really showed up last week against Indianapolis, and his stock has really risen as a result of it. The way drama and 53-man roster building works is that these situations tend to boil and boil and boil... well Noah Brown could do a lot of boiling with an impressive performance and maybe a stiff arm on the one and only Obi.
Cooper Rush will throw an interception
Unfortunately, it’s time for Cooper Rush to look a little human. And if roster building really is meant to be dramatic, then this would be the moment where Cooper Rush makes the case for keeping him a little bit more difficult.
The reality is that Cooper Rush has been a total baller so far throughout the preseason, but general odds lend to the notion that at some point he’d have to regress towards the mean.
Cooper Rush deserves to be on this team, but an interception tonight against the Raiders could really incite some drama on that front. This is the Cowboys, drama lives here.