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Cowboys at Patriots: Three questions to be answered in Week 6

Taking a look at some questions to be answered during Sunday’s matchup.

NFL: New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Last week the Cowboys kept on rolling. The Giants were no real match for Dallas, as they delivered New York a 44-20 beat down.

This week, the Cowboys face another challenge in the New England Patriots. On Sunday, Dallas will attempt to win a game in a place they are yet to register a victory in.

Before the Cowboys and Patriots square off, here are three questions that will be answered during Sunday’s game.

New York Giants v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images

1) Will the Dallas offense or New England defense win out?

To this point of the season, the Patriots have relied on their defense to carry their team. New England has allowed 22 or fewer points in four of their first five games, allowing less than 20 three times. New England has given up the fifth-fewest points and yards per game in football and has held three teams to under 185 passing yards.

The Cowboys have been almost the exact opposite team. The high-flying Dallas offense, ranked as the best offensive unit in football by a wide margin via Pro Football Focus, has been the clear strength of their team.

Dallas has scored 170 points on the year, second-most in football, averaging an astounding 34 points per game. The Cowboys have scored 121 points (41/36/44) in their last three games, their best three-game offensive stretch since Week 14-16 of 2014 where they also scored 121 points.

On Sunday, one team’s strategy is going to win out. New England wants to make it a ugly, low-scoring affair. The Cowboys want to open things up and make Mac Jones and the Patriots offense play from behind and be forced to air it out.

If Sunday is a high-scoring game, it’s hard to see a way the Patriots walk out victorious. If it’s a low-scoring affair like the last time the Cowboys went up to Foxborough, New England certainly has a chance to deliver the Cowboys a loss.

New England Patriots v Houston Texans Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

2) Will the Patriots continue to give the football away?

Turnovers have been a big reason why the Patriots have gotten off to a 2-3 start. New England has given the football away nine times, tied for the third-most in football, and has turned the ball over two or more times in four of their five games.

The Patriots have played games against the Dolphins, Saints and Buccaneers. In all three of those matchups, they’ve turned the ball over at least two times. It should come as no surprise that New England is 0-3 in those games.

Rookie quarterback Mac Jones has played a large part in the team’s overall struggle to take care of the football. The signal-caller is one of eight quarterbacks in football with at least five interceptions thrown, four of those coming in their losses against the Saints and Buccaneers.

Last week, New England turned the football over twice against the lowly Houston Texans. Ultimately, the Patriots were able to erase a 22-9 deficit and come back to win that game, but that was more of a product of how poor of a team they were playing.

The Patriots struggling to hold onto the football plays right into the Cowboys’ hands. Dallas has recorded 12 takeaways, the second-most in football, and have recorded two interceptions in all five of their games this season. This 10 interceptions in a five-game stretch is the Cowboys’ highest interception total in five games since 1982. (13 INTs)

If the Patriots can’t avoid turning over the football and fall into a big deficit, they won’t be able to flip the script as they did against Houston last week. The Cowboys offense is simply too good of a unit to give the football to. If New England does so, it could be a long Sunday for the Pats.

New York Giants v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images

3) How will the Cowboys respond in a potentially close game?

It’s pretty clear the Cowboys are a better team and have a much higher ceiling than the Patriots, but this likely will be a competitive game. In the history of the Cowboys, they’ve played at New England seven times. Five of the seven matchups have been settled by seven points or less. More recently, Dallas has played three games at Gillette Stadium since it opened in 2002, and gone 0-3.

While it seems like the Cowboys have a great shot at getting their first victory at Gillette this Sunday, it won’t be easy on the road against a well-coached Patriots team.

Dallas hasn’t had a real competitive game since Week 2 against the Chargers, all the way back on September 19th. So it’s been nearly a month since they’ve had a game that came down to the wire. Let’s not forget, it worked out well in Los Angeles, but the clock management at the end of the game could have been a disaster if Greg Zuerlein missed the kick.

That’s not the only time we’ve seen the Cowboys have clock management issues, and in close games, things like that become magnified.

If this one comes down to the final quarter on Sunday, it will be interesting to see if the Cowboys can avoid coaching mistakes, lock in, and take care of business playing in their first tight game in quite some time.

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