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Cowboys vs. Steelers: Opponent player of the week and Cowboys X-factor players

If the Cowboys want to win this game they will need to make Big Ben uncomfortable in the pocket.

Pittsburgh Steelers v New York Giants Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Opponent Players of the Week

NFL: DEC 30 Bengals at Steelers Photo by Mark Alberti/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Outside Linebackers - T.J. Watt and Bud Dupree

Combined 2020 Stats: 12.5 Sacks, 16 Tackles for Loss, 31 Quarterback Hits, 44 Tackles

If you want to see what the Cowboys were hoping to get out of their pass rush with DeMarcus Lawrence and Aldon Smith this season, look no further than the pass rushers T.J. Watt and Bud Dupree of the Pittsburgh Steelers. This tandem has been terrorizing quarterbacks this season and giving offensive tackles nightmares. The perfect combination of speed and power from both players gives them the ability to beat offensive tackles multiple ways and change the momentum of a game in an instant.

The Cowboys offensive line is going to be the key if this team wants to have any chance to win the game. Cam Erving and Terence Steele are going to have to beat these pass rushers to their spots and hold them off just long enough for new starting quarterback Garrett Gilbert to attack the middle of this defense. If they can do that, they have a slight chance at winning the game. If they can’t, then it’s going to be another long day for this Cowboys team and fan base.


Cowboys Offensive X-Factor Player

Dallas Cowboys v Philadelphia Eagles Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

Quarterback - Garrett Gilbert

Just like last week against the Philadelphia Eagles, the Cowboys will be relying on a new quarterback to lead them against a team in Pennsylvania. After Ben DiNucci’s performance against the Eagles, the Cowboys coaching staff is rolling the dice with Garrett Gilbert in the hopes of giving the Cowboys more chances to put points on the board with his experience of being in the NFL.

He’s just going to have to do it against the most blitz happy team in the NFL in the Pittsburgh Steelers. Expect the Cowboys to use a lot of quick screens and slants to get Gilbert in a rhythm and boost his confidence. He will also need to remember that Watt and Dupree are coming for him and he will need to get rid of the ball if nothing is there and not take sacks.

He should play better than DiNucci did last week.


Cowboys Defensive X-Factor Player(s)

Dallas Cowboys v Philadelphia Eagles Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

Safeties - Xavier Woods and Donovan Wilson

Xavier Woods and Donovan Wilson are going up against a team that is very good at tricking safeties into jumping on shorter routes before taking the deep shot. This has been a problem for both Woods and Wilson this season but they played a lot better last week against the Eagles. You have to assume that Big Ben knows this and is going to try and exploit those issues.

If they are able to keep everything in front of them and not miss tackles then they will help keep this Cowboys team in the game and give the Cowboys pass rushers a chance to get to Big Ben an create turnovers. They will also have to contain very effective Steelers running backs in the passing game. All three of the Steelers running backs have the ability to catch the ball and making defenders miss in the open field.