Some storylines for the game, including how the Cowboys are still stuck in the middle between playoffs and draft positioning.
Dallas does not have a whole lot of extra time to sit on the fence of how the rest of their 2020 season will result. As they enter Week 13, the Cowboys sit one game out of first place in the NFC East despite a 3-8 record, but they are also just one game behind having the number three overall pick in this April’s draft. The current draft position for the Cowboys is fourth overall with Cincinnati just above them on the board, but also ahead on the schedule in Week 14 with a chance to move up. Despite the opportunity and even encouragement from a section of the fan base, Dallas has no intentions of letting off the gas and coasting the rest of the regular season as only one of the remaining five teams on the schedule have a winning record. That one team is Baltimore who as mentioned earlier has lost four of five and three straight games entering this week.
Stretch run filled with struggling QBs gifts Cowboys one last shot at NFC East division title - Tim Cowlishaw, Dallas Morning News
If the Cowboys do make a run at a division title, they should get some help in the form of struggling quarterbacks that features a couple backups and Carson Wentz.
Joe Burrow was supposed to be up next in Cincinnati. Last year’s Heisman winner passed for 300 or more yards in five of his first seven pro starts before he began taking too many hits and was finally lost for the season with a serious knee injury in Washington. Former Arkansas quarterback Brandon Allen is his less than scary replacement unless the team switches to Ryan Finley, which is really just more of the same.
Instead of Jimmy Garoppolo, the Cowboys get Nick Mullens when the 49ers fly into town from their temporary home of Glendale, Ariz. San Francisco’s season was derailed by massive injuries early and now they can’t even live and practice in Santa Clara.
The real wild card follows on Dec. 27 when Carson Wentz and the Eagles come to AT&T Stadium. You probably have seen the stories regarding his rapid decline and how it parallels what has happened to other quarterbacks in their late 30′s. Philly’s problem is that Wentz is 27 and signed a $128 million extension last year.
Speaking of Carson Wentz...
If the Cowboys did make a push for the division crown, they could get boost late in the season as there’s a chance a couple rookies may return.
Jerry Jones on @1053thefan said there's a chance that Cowboys rookie cornerback Trevon Diggs (foot) and rookie center Tyler Biadasz (hamstring) will still be able to return this season— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) December 4, 2020
Diggs suffered a broken foot during the Cowboys Week 9 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. The rookie was showing signs of why the Cowboys took him in the second round. In his last five games, Diggs recorded 22 tackles, eight passes defended and hauled in his first two career interceptions against the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 8. He has 48 tackles and 10 passes defended for the season in just nine games.
Biadasz has gotten some valuable experience as a rookie as well. After veteran center Joe Looney went down with an MCL sprain against the Cleveland Browns in Week 4, he logged every snap from that point through Week 8. He played well enough to be named to the midseason All-Rookie team for Pro Football Focus but suffered a hamstring injury during pregame warmups before the Cowboys battled the Steelers just days before.
It’s amazing how the division is historically bad this season.
The NFC East is on pace to have only the third team in NFL history make the playoffs with a losing record. The others were the 2010 Seattle Seahawks (7-9) and the 2014 Carolina Panthers (7-8-1). The Seahawks went on to defeat the New Orleans Saints in their wild-card matchup before losing to the Chicago Bears in the divisional round. The Panthers also won in the wild-card round, defeating the Arizona Cardinals before falling to the Seahawks in the divisional round.
This season’s NFC East has a chance to be worse than both of those teams, possibly sending a team with only five or six wins to the playoffs. The NFL Draft impact is also interesting. All four teams are currently in position for a top-eight pick. However, a playoff team can’t pick higher than 19th. Members of all four teams would say right now that they’d prefer making the playoffs, even if it means probably losing in the wild-card round. But it will cost them in April when, instead of selecting at the top of each round, they’ll be picking in the middle.
Robert Griffin III Placed on Injured Reserve; Trace McSorley Preparing to Start - Ryan Mink, Baltimore Ravens
If you think Lamar Jackson is a guaranteed start at quarterback on Sunday against the Cowboys, you are Sorley McStaken.
Checking in over at Ravens base camp leaves the door open. Lamar Jackson remains on the Reserve/COVID-19 list and Robert Griffin III was placed on injured reserve Friday. That leaves second-year quarterback Trace McSorley preparing as if he will be the starter Tuesday night. Under the NFL’s protocol for returning from the COVID-19/Reserve list, players who test positive must quarantine for a minimum of 10 days.
Under that timeline, Jackson could be eligible to play against the Cowboys. However, it remains to be seen whether he’ll be physically prepared to do so. Head Coach John Harbaugh stated that it’s a medical decision, not a coaching decision, and did not elaborate on Jackson’s specific status.
One guy who will be playing on Tuesday for the Ravens is former Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant.
He was one of the league’s most dominant wide receivers over a three-year stretch from 2012-2014 in which he averaged more than 1,300 yards and scored 41 touchdowns. He’s the Cowboys’ career leader in receiving touchdowns (73).
But Bryant’s production dipped as foot and knee injuries struck, and the Cowboys released their homegrown star and outspoken Pro Bowler following the 2018 season.
The release happened in April, after free agency had died down. Bryant also shot back after some negative public comments about his final season.
So, does Bryant have any hard feelings?
“For the most part, it’s water under the bridge,” Bryant said. “That’s two years ago. I had time to get myself together. You have to move forward with life, because life ain’t going to wait on you. Time waits on no one. So, I had to get myself together and move forward.”
Our sister site over at Baltimore Beatdown includes Dez in one of their players to watch, as well as the third-stringer McSorley.
Speaking of Jackson, his status for Tuesday’s game is still unclear. Technically, he is eligible to be activated from the reserve/COVID-19 list on Sunday, but that does not mean that he will, in fact, be activated before Tuesday. If Jackson cannot play, McSorley would receive his first career start. Robert Griffin III was placed on the IR with a hamstring injury. Against the Steelers, McSorley completed two out of six passes for 77 yards, including this 70-yard touchdown pass to Marquise Brown:
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