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Cowboys news: David Irving’s debut, DeMarcus Lawrence questionable, Jaguars/Cowboys preview

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NFL: Kansas City Chiefs at Dallas Cowboys Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Cowboys vs. Jaguars odds: Picks, predictions from expert who’s 15-7 on Cowboys games - Staff, CBS Sports
SportsLine’s Mike Tierney has been dialed in on Cowboys games so far with nearly a 70% success rate. What does he have to say about the game against the Jags? Well, it’s not good news, Cowboys fans.

While Dallas dropped an overtime heart-breaker in Houston, Jacksonville was picked apart by opportunistic Kansas City in a 30-14 decision. The Jaguars are 3-point road favorites, up from an open of 1.5, in the latest Cowboys vs. Jaguars odds. The Over-Under, or total number of points Vegas thinks will be scored, has inched down from 41.5 to 40.5.

Here is the final practice report...

Most of the nation will be able to watch the Cowboys game on CBS and we’ll be treated to Tony Romo broadcasting the game. Hopefully, your area is in the red this weekend (map courtesy of 506 sports).


NFL Week 6 CBS Jacksonville Jaguars @ Dallas Cowboys Preview - Staff, Pro Football Focus
Pro Football Focus provides their weekly game preview, including how the quarterbacks could be under a lot of pressure this week.

The Cowboys better get it out quickly

The Cowboys would be wise to get the ball out quickly against the Jaguars. The stout defensive unit currently ranks top-five in both opposing passer rating (60.1) and completion percentage (50.7%) when quarterbacks hold the ball longer than 2.5 seconds.

And both of these teams are two of the best when it comes to blitzing.

The more, the merrier

The Jaguars trust their front four to get pressure by themselves, but they see great success when sending five or more pass-rushers. Their pressure rate of 56.8% is the second-best mark in the league behind only the Dallas Cowboys.

Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Dallas Cowboys Prediction and Preview - Clint Lamb, Athlon Sports
Both the Cowboys and Jaguars have taken a running back fourth overall in recent years, but only one of them will be on the field Sunday. The Jags still have a player that’s racked up the yards this season as Lamb points out in his game preview.

1. The Jaguars’ new depth at running back

First, it was starting running back Leonard Fournette (hamstring), who the entire offense was built around. Then, it was a season-ending injury to Corey Grant (Lisfranc injury). Those two events forced the Jaguars to go out and bring in more depth at the position. Of course, T.J. Yeldon will continue to be the starter in Jacksonville while Fournette is out. The former second-round pick out of Alabama has gained 452 total yards (258 rushing, 194 receiving) and scored four touchdowns despite only having two starts this season. It’s still worth monitoring the newfound depth, however. And who does he have winning the game? Dallas will lean heavily on its first-round running back down the stretch, and that ends up being the difference in the game.

Prediction: Cowboys 20, Jaguars 17

Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Dallas Cowboys primer: Key matchups, storylines, predictions, and more for Week 6 - Filip Prus, Big Cat Country
Our sister site Big Cat Country provides their weekly preview, including what everyone already knows - the Cowboys offense has their work cut out for them.

Quite frankly, this is a nightmare match up for Dallas in a week where they’ve lost a huge amount of momentum from an overtime loss against self-proclaimed in-state rival Houston Texans. Even though the Cowboys offense has lost its power, they do have their generator running in Ezekiel Elliott. Not only is Elliott the NFL’s leading rusher through five weeks with 480 yards on the ground, but he also leads the team in receptions.

The Cowboys defense is a different story, and it starts up front with their “Hot Boyz” defensive line piloted by 2017 Pro Bowl defensive end Demarcus “Tank” Lawrence. Tank is averaging over a sack a game in a contract year and that spells trouble for ex-teammate Jermey Parnell at right tackle, who had a howler last week against Dee Ford. While banged up, the Jaguars interior offensive line should hold their own against the Cowboys defensive tackles as long as David Irving doesn’t suit up in this game.

As you go into the Cowboys’ second level, things don’t get much easier with middle linebacker Jaylon Smith playing incredible football so far in 2018 as he continues to get back to the top-five caliber prospect that he was prior to a devastating knee injury in his final collegiate game at Notre Dame. Next to Smith, rookie first round pick Leighton Vander Esch had a whopping 14 tackles last week against the Texans and may very well Wally Pipp veteran linebacker Sean Lee with how well he is playing.

And sorry Big Cat, but it looks like David Irving is suiting up.

Dallas Cowboys vs. Jacksonville Jaguars game preview - Stefan, Stevenson, Fort Worth Star-Telegram
David Irving was eligible to come back last week against the Texans, but didn’t make the trip. It appears he’ll be on the field this week.

4. David Irving’s debut

Defensive tackle David Irving is expected to make his 2018 debut Sunday. Irving, who was suspended for the first four games for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy and missed last week’s game because of a family crisis, could give the defensive line a big lift. Especially if DeMarcus Lawrence is unable to play because of a left shoulder injury. Irving has received glowing reviews from coaches and teammates in practice, but he’s only practiced three times since November, including Thursday and Friday. He may not play a lot, but he could provide a spark when he’s out there.

And although Tank is listed as questionable, he is expected to play as well.

Cowboys’ DeMarcus Lawrence says he has torn labrum in his shoulder, has played through it the last 2 years - Brandon George, SportsDay
News broke about Lawrence playing with a torn labrum, but it looks like something he’s been dealing with for a while now.

Lawrence has been practicing with a shoulder harness to keep it from popping out of place again and will likely play with that under his uniform Sunday against Jacksonville. Lawrence knows how to play through pain. Lawrence played the last two months of the 2016 season in constant pain because of a back injury. His teammates and coaches said Lawrence could have easily elected for surgery to end his season but played through the pain.

Looks like the band is back together.

Five things to watch in Cowboys-Jaguars game — plus notes on Lawrence’s injury, Irving’s status and Garrett’s job status - Calvin Watkins, The Athletic
The Cowboys must find a way to have success in the passing game if they are to have a shot.

Wide Receivers

Can they make a play? Any play? Dak Prescott has expressed confidence in their abilities, but the little things — running routes with the proper technique, for instance — have been missing. Things must improve against the strong Jaguars defense. This is a game in which Brice Butler might get extensive snaps. He’s played just one so far in the two games in which he was active. Butler can stretch a defense with deep routes and, if he runs slants, can give Prescott a bigger target. Cole Beasley became a forgotten man last week in Houston. That has to change Sunday.

5 Players to Watch: Jaguars @ Cowboys - 5 Points Blue - Kristi Scales
Speaking of wide receivers, is this the week Allen Hurns breaks out? There’s no time like the present considering he’ll be going against his former team.

5. Cowboys Wide Receiver Allen Hurns (#17)

Allen Hurns (#17) has been in the spotlight this week, and not just because he’s going against his former team. Hurns spent his first four seasons with the Jaguars before joining the Cowboys earlier this year as a free agent. The Cowboys passing attack has been under the microscope because of really poor production through the first five weeks of the season. Hurns was quoted earlier this week saying that one of the two interceptions thrown by Dak Prescott (#4) in Sunday’s loss at Houston was not a good play call because of the two-man coverage by the Texans. It looked as though Hurns was questioning the play calling.

But Hurns clarified his comments on Wednesday with local media by saying “It was just an unfortunate situation, but I didn’t question the play call … People ask me a question, and I tell them how it is. I’m not throwing anybody under the bus.” He also said that improving the passing game will take a collective effort. That’s the truth.

The receivers need to help Dak, and Dak needs to more accurately deliver the ball. And the offensive line needs to give him better protection. There have been different breakdowns on different plays. And against the league’s best defense, you can’t have breakdowns. The Jaguars have plenty of ways to beat you, so you absolutely cannot beat yourself with missed assignments, misreads, drops, missed blocks, or turnovers.

Jaguars special teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis’ return to Dallas evokes memories of accident - Associated Press, FOX Sports
This game will reunite players against their former teams (Allen Hurns, Barry Church, Jermey Parnell, and Tyler Patmon), but it also brings a coach back against his former team. Special teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis has been an ace in the hole for the Jags, but some Cowboys fans might remember him from that horrific accident nearly a decade ago.

DeCamillis was inside Dallas’ 86-foot-tall practice facility that collapsed during a thunderstorm in May 2009. About 70 people were inside. Twelve were injured. Scouting assistant Rich Behm was paralyzed from the waist down when his spine was severed. DeCamillis broke his neck but returned to work a little more than a week later wearing a neck brace. He still has physical issues, including occasional numbness in his hands, and gets a little nervous at the sound of lightning and thunder.

“Still feel the effects from it,” he said. “I’m going to deal with it every day of my life. It’s just part of my life and hopefully I came out of it a better person. Sometimes you have adversity that happens and hopefully you find a way to deal with it.”

DeCamillis got a $9.5 million settlement, which included cash and benefits, following the accident from companies responsible for building the tent-like structure. DeCamillis stayed three more years in Dallas after the accident, then spent two seasons in Chicago and two in Denver before returning to Jacksonville for a second stint in 2017. He won the Super Bowl with the Broncos in 2016. “What are you going to do? Feel sorry for yourself? Just keep going,” DeCamillis said. “Obviously, I was told at that time I might not be able to coach, and eight years later, I’m still coaching. It turned out great.”

Week 6 Advanced Statbook: Are Cowboys better than Jaguars at anything? - K.D. Drummond
K.D. offers up some advanced stats in comparing these two teams, including adjusted net yards which takes sacks and interceptions into account in measuring how efficient a team is in the passing game.

The Jaguars are a much better team on both sides of the ball when it comes to the passing game. On a per-throw basis, they clear Dallas’ production by a full yard when each side has the ball. In fact, the only offenses that are in Dallas’ range of ineptitude passing the rock are Cleveland (4.9), Arizona (4.0) and Buffalo (2.0).

And you might want to close your eyes for this part...

All three of those teams are starting quarterbacks who are rookies. It’s that bad.

Advantage: Jaguars

Okay, you can open them again.

Gut Feeling: Predictions For Cowboys-Jaguars - Staff, Dallas Cowboys
The writers over at The Mothership offer up their weekly predictions. Broaddus is still undefeated on the year, so let’s hear what he has to say about Sunday’s game.

Bryan Broaddus: I really do worry about the Cowboys’ ability to move the ball offensively. I don’t see the Jaguars allowing them to run the ball, so that puts the pressure on the offense to have to throw. The Jaguars are outstanding when they force their opponents to be one-dimensional throwing the ball. They can just rush four and get guys home, which allows them to play coverage in the secondary. If the Cowboys are going to win this game they have to get their passing game going, but I just don’t see that happening. The Jaguars choke the run and will make the Cowboys have to consistently complete passes, which I don’t believe will happen. Jacksonville’s defense is just too good, and it’s the biggest reason they’ll win, 20-6.

Final analysis: Nine experts on Jaguars-Cowboys - John Oehser, Jaguars.com
The Jaguars base camp offers up some predictions of their own with a heavy majority siding with their Jags.

The Jaguars will win if: Bortles and the Jaguars’ offense function effectively early and get a lead. Bortles in the last season and a half typically has responded to difficult weeks well – and he hasn’t had a week as difficult as last week in a while. The Jaguars have moved and scored effectively early in all three victories this season, so a good start would bode well Sunday.

The Cowboys will win if: They get ahead early. The Cowboys need a lead to be able to run Elliott and keep the Jaguars out of pass-rushing situations. If the Jaguars can force Dallas to throw often with Prescott, the Jaguars have a huge advantage. The longer the Cowboys are running effectively with a lead, the trickier this game will get for the Jaguars.

As Oehser sees it: This feels like a bounce-back game for Bortles and the offense. One reason Sunday’s loss to the Chiefs got one-sided was the Chiefs took an early lead and the Jaguars responded by throwing too much to try to rally. The Cowboys’ offense lacks the Chiefs’ firepower. That should enable the Jaguars to be more balanced offensively, which should allow Bortles and the Jaguars to score enough to win.