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Cowboys vs. Titans: Four candidates to be the X-Factor player of the game for Dallas

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Which player do you think will be the difference-maker when the Cowboys face the Titans Monday Night?

Jacksonville Jaguars v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The Dallas Cowboys will be on the the big stage this week as they host the Tennessee Titans on Monday Night Football. It’s a special game for a lot of reasons. It will give fans their first look at new wide receiver Amari Cooper who the Cowboys acquired via trade with the Oakland Raiders. It will also be a time to honor legendary tight end Jason Witten as he makes his first ever broadcast of the team he’s spent the last 15 years playing for.

While those things bring some excitement for Cowboys fans, it’s very important that the Cowboys come away with the W on Monday night so they can stay in the playoff hunt at the midway point. How can the Cowboys emerge victorious? Well, the BTB writing staff offers up their guess as to who will be the x-factor on Monday night.

Tom Ryle: Michael Gallup

I’m going back to the same X-factor I had in the Washington game, Michael Gallup. If Scott Linehan uses Amari Cooper correctly, his arrival can really change the ways other defenses approach the Cowboys. Before this, the main receiving threat other teams focused on was Cole Beasley. Now, he is likely to become the number two concern, with Cooper the big gun. And that means there won’t be a lot of double coverage for Gallup to contend with. We saw the first glimpse of what he can become in the first half of the last game. Now, with the attention split with the other receivers, Gallup is going to be open more than ever. I think he is going to make the most of that.

Michael Sisemore: Tyron Smith

For this week, give me Tyron Smith, the All-Pro left tackle. If we’re to believe some of the whispers, Tyron wasn’t a fan of his now former line coach or his technique preferences. Well, Alexander is now unemployed so he’s out of the picture and it’s time for Tyron Smith to show that he’s still that guy. The Titans defense may be long in the tooth but it’s still a group of talented veterans. Smith and his counterpart La’el Collins need to prove that their regression this season was just a product of a bad marriage. If it truly was just a styles clash in philosophy, expect Tyron Smith to go back to that aggressive style that has allowed him to dominate his opponents.

Danny Phantom: Jaylon Smith

When Day 2 of the 2016 NFL Draft arrived, I was expecting the Cowboys to select one of the top defensive ends remaining on the board - either Emmanuel Ogbah or Kevin Dodd. Surprisingly both those players were the first two guys picked in the second round. The Titans actually picked Dodd, much to the dismay of many Cowboys fans who felt that the front office panicked when all the edge rushers were gone, and took too big of a risk by selecting injured linebacker Jaylon Smith.

Well, Dodd isn’t in the league anymore, but Smith is and he’s finally making fans feel good about the pick.

The Titans don’t have many weapons on offense, but the ones they do have are going to test the Cowboys linebacker group. With the quick receiving back in Dion Lewis combined with the elusive Marcus Mariota, the trio of Smith, Sean Lee, and rookie Leighton Vander Esch will need to make plays to keep the Titans offense from moving the ball. Jaylon has come up big against both of the Cowboys AFC South opponents this year, with a forced fumble and key fourth down stop to his credit. Look for Smith to have another swipe-worthy play against the Titans.

Dave Halprin: Scott Linehan.

Yup, I said it. The much-maligned offensive coordinator is going to look like a genius by the end of the night. The Titans have a great scoring defense, but the Cowboys are going to explode on offense. Amari Cooper will be seen as the main reason, everyone will say he opened the offense up. But much of the credit should go to Linehan as he uses the bye week to re-tool some things in the offensvie game plan and the Cowboys players will take advantage.