The Dallas Cowboys are heading into a road game against the New England Patriots as the favorites. Wow, I never thought I’d say those words. Nevertheless, the Cowboys are opening up as the favorites this week but it’s not going to be an easy game. The Patriots, even without Tom Brady, have been a team that has stayed in games and almost beat the defending champion Buccaneers two weeks ago. Head coach Bill Belichick knows that this Cowboys offense will be the toughest outside of the Buccaneers that he will be facing so far this season. But, let’s see what the Cowboys will have to deal with this week from the Patriots.
New England Patriots
2020 Record: 7-9
Last Meeting: 11/24/2019 Patriots 13, Cowboys 9
Head Coach: Bill Belichick
Key Additions: TE Jonnu Smith, OLB Matthew Judon, TE Hunter Henry, S Jalen Mills, WR Nelson Agholor,
Key Losses: G Joe Thuney, CB Jason McCourty, DT Adam Butler, CB Stephon Gilmore, QB Cam Newton
Biggest offensive strengths and weaknesses
Don’t let the rookie quarterback Mac Jones fool you, he’s a quarterback coming from an NFL-style offense out of college, and on a team that leans on their strength to protect their weaknesses. He is an accurate passer that has shown a lot of poise, but his offense tends to play more underneath than vertical. The Patriots have two new tight ends in Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry that are quarterback-friendly receivers. Their speed and route-running ability make them the perfect targets for a rookie quarterback that many thought wouldn’t be starting this early in the season. They account for three of the Patriots five touchdowns through the air. Wide receiver Jakobi Meyers also acts as a safety blanket for the Patriots quarterback and is proving to be the most consistent weapon, usually catching passes underneath. The Cowboys are going to need their safeties and linebackers to step up this week to shut down the underneath game, and make sure tackles after the catch, if they want to contain this Patriots offense.
We discussed the recent history between Dallas and New England on the latest episode of Cowboys Roundup, our morning update show on the Blogging The Boys podcast network. Make sure to subscribe to our network so that you don’t miss any of our episodes! Apple devices can subscribe here and Spotify users can subscribe here.
As far as the weakness for this offense right now it has to be their offensive line as they’ve been hit with a slew of injuries recently. Last week, starters left tackle Isaiah Wynn, left guard Mike Onwenu, right guard Shaq Mason and right tackle Trent Brown were all out leaving only center David Andrews as the only starter to suit up. The Cowboys will have a chance to attack a weakened offensive line, but at this point it’s unclear just how many of these players will return for the game. Regardless, they will be weakened.
Biggest defensive strengths and weaknesses
The Patriots defense continues to be the mainstay for this team as they currently rank fifth in the NFL in scoring defense. This season they’ve added to their pass rush with Matt Judon who’s 6.5 sacks and 11 quarterback hits leads to the team. But it’s the secondary that has been a bright spot for this defense by only giving up five receiving touchdowns this season and adding five interceptions, all without Stephon Gilmore who they traded away. They will lean on this secondary to take away Dak Prescott’s weapons on the outside and make this Cowboys offense one-dimensional. It should be noted that the Pats secondary uncharacteristically struggled against a poor Houston offense last week, that was coming off the heels of containing the explosive Bucs passing game in their previous game.
Lucky for the Cowboys, though, they have an offense that can attack the linebackers with their tight ends and running backs. So far, the Patriots linebackers outside of Judon have struggled. New arrival Jamie Collins should help, but look for the Cowboys to attack these linebackers and create mismatches with Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard out of the backfield along with their tight ends. The Patriots play a lot of Cover 1 with man-to-man underneath, and the Cowboys playmakers on offense should take advantage.