The Dallas Cowboys return home to the confines of AT&T stadium for the next three games. Last time they were there, it was quite the thriller as the team pulled off the unthinkable. On Sunday, we’re hoping things won’t quite be as dramatic as the Cleveland Browns have been the laughing stock of the league for many years. Only thing is, they’re actually a pretty decent team these days. They have a roster full of talented players, and now they’re just trying to piece everything together.
Coming off of two straight wins, the Browns have some things working in their favor, and this one could be a little tougher than we’d like. Here are five things to pay attention to when the Browns roll into town.
1. Gotta stop Chubb to get the Dub
The Browns have rushed for 511 yards so far this season, which ranks third in the league. This is due to the dynamic tandem of Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt who have 292 and 204 yards respectively. While both can hurt you, it’s Chubb that gets the majority of the work. And considering he has a career average of over five yards per carry (including 5.7 this season), it’s easy to see why.
Chubb runs with great elusiveness. He’s an excellent cutter and then accelerates quickly. This enables him to get out of trouble in the backfield as well as change directions on a dime at the second level. He’s really a fun player to watch.
Not only is he a shifty runner, but Chubb runs with a lot of toughness as most of his yardage comes after contact. In fact, he leads the entire NFL with 4.3 yards after contact. He’s a tough guy to bring down, and it’s been on full display this season.
And the most dangerous thing about Chubb is that he has that extra gear to take off in space. He likes to bounce around the outside to where he can find just enough crease to take off down the sideline. If the Cowboys aren’t careful, he could be in for a big day.
2. Turnover differential
We don’t have to sell you on the idea that taking care of the ball is very important. The Cowboys have been especially bad at this lately, turning the ball over three times in each of the last two games. Even worse, five of those instances have come in their own territory, resulting in golden opportunities for their opponents.
The Browns just so happen to be coming off a game where their defense forced five turnovers. Granted, it was against the Dwayne Haskins-led Washington Team, but they are an opportunistic group. With some heavy hitters, the Cowboys need to be careful holding on to the ball. Dallas cannot continue with these self-inflected gaffes as it’s just incredibly hard to win football games that way.
Baker Mayfield has been a turnover waiting to happen in previous years, but he’s done a much better job taking care of the ball this season. It sure would be nice to see the Cowboys defense make a play or two to give them an advantage for once, and Baker could be the guy to make that happen.
3. A tested front line
We never know what the Cowboys offensive line arrangement is going to be as there are so many factors that could shake things up. Who they start with isn’t necessarily how they’ll finish. The first question resides around the availability of Tyron Smith. If he can go, who will then play right tackle? Odds are it would be Brandon Knight as he’s played well at left tackle in Smith’s absence. Utilizing Knight would free up Zack Martin to go back to his original spot at right guard.
Any way you slice it, it’s going to be a challenge for the Cowboys to handle the Brown’s pass rushers. We all know about 2017 no. 1 overall pick Myles Garrett, but they also have Sheldon Richardson in the middle. Richardson signed a three-year, $37 million deal in the offseason of 2019, and he’s been a nice addition to this defense. He’ll use his hands to shed blockers, has the awareness to diagnose the play, and will flat out overpower his man at times. He could be a problem for the Cowboys interior offensive line.
Of course, they should never lose sight of that Myles fella. He can be a game wrecker.
4. An old friend
There was a time when the Cowboys would see Odell Beckham Jr. twice a season when he was playing for the New York Giants. A trade last year brought him to Cleveland and he hasn’t been able to rekindle the magic that made him one of the most feared receivers in the league. After three straight 1,300-yard seasons with the Giants, OBJ is averaging a measly 62 yards per game since joining the Browns. His catch percentage last season was a career low 55%, but it’s dropped down to 50% so far this season. He just doesn’t seem like the same threatening receiver we were used to seeing.
Against the Cowboys banged up secondary, Beckham should get some chances. The Cowboys pass defense ranks in the bottom five in the league and only one team surrenders more receiving touchdowns than Dallas. The table is set for Beckham to have a big game. Even Brandon Carr has returned in case OBJ is looking for a new poster.
But as bad as the Cowboys defense has been, Trevon Diggs has shown some promise, we’ll see how he does against Beckham. That should be fun to watch.
5. A big game from Coop
The Cowboys have a fantastic receiving group. It’s just two games in and they already have four wide receivers who have had 100-yard games thanks to a career game from Cedrick Wilson last week. It might not be all that surprising that the big three are producing, and that idea of having three 1,000-yard receivers doesn’t seem so unreasonable thus far.
Can the Dallas Cowboys have three 1,000-yard receivers? Well, if they keep playing at their current pace, then the answer is - YES pic.twitter.com/5qW9XpWYYJ— Dan Rogers (@DannyPhantom24) October 1, 2020
As great as these guys have been, it feels good to see Amari Cooper show up in each game. In fact, he’s had over 80 yards receiving in all three games thus far, which just so happens to be the first time in his career that he’s been able to do that. Consistency has always been his bugaboo, but Cooper keeps showing up. Against the Browns, look for he and Prescott to attack former Cowboys corner Terrance Mitchell. Don’t be surprised if Cooper has a big day and keep that streak going as well as find the end zone for the first time this season.
What will you be watching on Sunday?