The Miami Dolphins are strolling into town to face the Dallas Cowboys, who are trying to start the season 3-0 for the first time in the Jason Garrett era. The Cowboys are three-touchdown favorites over the fish (I know a dolphin is technically a mammal, but this isn’t science class), and anything less than a convincing double-digit win over them will be viewed as a disappointment. The Cowboys should be ready to play on Sunday, whether it results in a blowout win or not, but which players are in line to have a big game?
Last week, Michael Sisemore selected the team’s right tackle to keep the Washington Redskins top edge rusher at bay, and sure enough - he delivered.
Michael Sisemore: La’el Collins
If the Cowboys are going to get repeat of week one, it starts with keeping Dak Prescott clean. Washington will miss Jonathan Allen in the middle of their defense but Ryan Kerrigan is still quite the edge rusher. Collins just got paid a hefty sum to stay in Dallas and this game is where he needs to show why. Kerrigan is disruptive from the snap and he’s not likely to spend much time rushing at Tyron Smith. La’el Collins needs to show that nastiness we’ve seen in the past and neutralize Ryan Kerrigan. If Collins is successful, you can expect the Cowboys offense to roll over Washington.
La’el Collins has been playing extremely well so far this season, and the Cowboys front office is looking like a genius for signing him to an extension a few weeks ago.
Four Cowboys linemen currently rank in the top ten at their position, according to ESPN's pass block win rate and pass rush win rate metrics.— Cowboys Stats & Graphics (@CowboysStats) September 19, 2019
La'el Collins - 100% win rate
Tyron Smith - 97%
Zack Martin - 97%
Maliek Collins - 18% (really high for a DT!) https://t.co/D2iKytGoNm
Which player do you believe has a huge game this week? Some front page writers here at BTB make their picks as to which players will come up big against the Dolphins.
Michael Strawn - Tony Pollard
I expect the Cowboys to play with a lead through most of the game and thus rest Ezekiel Elliott. That means more opportunity for Tony Pollard. I’m predicting over 100 combined yards and two touchdowns, one on the ground and one on a screen.
Michael Sisemore - Jaylon Smith
So far, I haven’t been so impressed with the second-level tackling by this defense. Whether it’s poor gap integrity by the defensive linemen, linebackers getting washed, or defensive backs taking poor angles, the Cowboys need to fix it. Tackling hasn’t been bad enough to matter but good teams on the schedule will shred them if they don’t get right. Guys need to stop thinking about the hit and focus on wrapping up and finishing.
David Howman - Donovan Wilson
With Darian Thompson likely getting the start in place of Xavier Woods, Donovan Wilson probably won’t see a ton of snaps but I do expect him to get on the field. He maximized his opportunities in preseason and both Woods and Jeff Heath have had easy interceptions that they just didn’t come up with. Wilson should be able to capitalize on that and really make his mark on this game despite not starting.
Matt Holleran - Trysten Hill
With injuries to Tyrone Crawford and Antwaun Woods on the defensive line, Trysten Hill will see his first NFL regular season action on Sunday. The Dolphins have arguably the worst offensive line in the NFL, and likely will have to give help to DeMarcus Lawrence and Robert Quinn on the edges. I think this will open up opportunities for Hill to create some pressure, and he will record a sack and forced fumble in his first appearance. He also likely will get a fair amount of playing time in the second half when this game should be a blowout.
Cole Patterson - Robert Quinn
It’s no secret that the Cowboys would like for their pass rush to improve, and what better way for Quinn to announce his presence to the team by creating pressure? The Cowboys made the move for the veteran rusher in hopes that he would solidify the opposite side from DeMarcus Lawrence. Although it’s his first game in a Cowboys uniform following the two-game suspension, look for Quinn to have a solid game against his former squad.
Danny Phantom - Cedrick Wilson
Okay, you might be thinking I’m just picking Cedrick Wilson because he’s jumped into the no. 4 wide receiver spot this week due to injuries to Tavon Austin and Michael Gallup. Well, you wouldn’t be wrong. After all, the team’s no. 4 WR last week, Devin Smith, finally got opportunities and he capitalized right away by catching a 51-yard strike from Dak Prescott. But my pick for Wilson goes deeper than that. With a lean receiving group, I’m also predicting that Randall Cobb is taken off of punt return duties at some point to preserve health, leaving Wilson to handle that role. And with the Dolphins punting a lot in this game, don’t be surprised if no. 11 (yes, he wears 11 now) gets loose in the open field.
Tom Ryle - Jaylon Smith
It’s kinda getting hard to come up with an X-factor, because so many on the team are doing so well. So let me throw in a type of play: The blitz. The Cowboys are just not getting pressure, and need a jump start. Sure, this is a great opportunity to get some sacks rushing four, but some early blitzes could really rattle the Dolphins and Josh Rosen (or whomever they put out there). Pile up a bunch of sacks early and build some confidence for the team. Given the talent the Cowboys have in the back seven, they can send anyone, and still have a good chance of covering things just long enough. And while he ain’t exactly under the radar as he promotes the new Rambo film, Jaylon Smith has not exactly been setting things on fire. Getting him a sack kills two birds with one Stallone - err, stone.
Who do you think will be this week’s X-Factor player of the game?