It’s been just a few days since the Cowboys lost 13-9 to the Patriots during a non-stop monsoon. Speaking of non-stop, the last four days have been filled with non-stop calls for Jason Garrett’s job and the sky has been falling hard in Dallas. The Cowboys are still in control in the NFC East yet they are still looking for a signature win at 6-5. The Buffalo Bills are 8-3 but have five wins against opponents with two wins or less. Both teams need to beat somebody to ‘be’ somebody.
When the Bills have the ball
Stop the run
The Bills offense doesn’t wow you but they can be efficient. One of the keys to stopping the Bills is by wrangling Buffalo’s run game. Unfortunately, it’s not that easy to stop the fifth-ranked rushing offense because they got several pairs of legs to watch. Frank Gore is the leading rusher with 540 rushing yards but he’s averaging just 3.9 yards per carry. Gore is the hammer but it’s what supports him that can slice your defense up. Devin Singletary averages almost six yards per carry, he’s just 51 yards shy of Gore with 490 rushing yards, on 53 less carries than Gore. Singletary can flip speeds on a defense and lastly don’t forget about the legs of QB Josh Allen, he’s over 300 on the ground, with seven rushing touchdowns. If the Cowboys struggle in run defense (15th in NFL), it’s going to be a long and lousy holiday weekend.
When the Cowboys have the ball
A balanced rushing attack
The Bills rank 14th in run defense, allowing 104.4 yards per game on the ground, that’s about a half-yard better than the Cowboys run defense. In this game, the Cowboys have to attack the Bills like the Bills like to attack their opponents. In the three games Buffalo has lost, they average giving up 146.3 yards on the ground. Buffalo has struggled to stop the run, allowing 4.4 yards per carry and 11 rushing touchdowns. This is a game where it’s not just about Ezekiel Elliott but Tony Pollard should have a role and so should Dak Prescott. We have seen way less running from Dak this season, as he leads the league in passing. It’s time for a vintage Cowboys rushing attack.
The Bills defense is especially vulnerable in stopping explosive runs, giving up nine rushes of 20+ yards, which is more than twice the amount the Dallas defense has given up. Two of these runs went for 27- and 65-yard touchdowns. The average explosive run gained on Buffalo is 27.8 yards. Dallas needs to switch things up and get their ground game going in a multitude of ways and it will break this game open.
What are the writers predicting from this one?
The Cowboys will have a rebound game that will even include a fast start. There will be moments where they slip back to their old ways and settle for field goals, but they’ll keep grinding away. The defense will look dominant at times, but then give up some big plays to keep the Bills in the game. The Cowboys break their three-game turnover drought, and in the end do enough to pull out the win. Cowboys 23, Bills 13.
I have an unusual lack of excitement about this game. To me, it is more an indicator of what the rest of the season will be than anything. I am more waiting to see what happens than trying to predict. Having said that, I think the Cowboys are going to be a bit too tight to start this one, and the Bills are just a bit too good for them to overcome the typical early game foibles. I don’t want to see it, but I think the Cowboys lose 23-16.
I’ve been nervous about this game since the schedule came out and I’m still nervous about it. The Bills have a great defense and an underrated offense, so I see this going down to the wire. At the end of the day though, Dallas is angry about the Patriots loss and pulls out the win here, 31-28
I’ve gone back and forth with this game but I do believe the Cowboys are incredibly motivated to win this football game. The Cowboys owner has called everyone out saying “It’s time to win some damn football games.” I believe the Cowboys are the more talented team overall but that hasn’t mattered because they were the more talented team in all five of their losses. I see an angry Cowboys team coming out here with something to prove. At least for the next week, the Cowboys will have quieted some of the negativity with a win on Thursday. The Cowboys defense puts together another solid performance and the offense gets cooking late to win 24-17.