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Cowboys vs. Patriots: Each team’s X-Factor player for Sunday

The Cowboys look to push their winning streak to five games. In order to do so, they will have to take care of business versus a well-coached Patriots team.

NFL: Dallas Cowboys at New England Patriots Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

The Cowboys walk into week six as one of the hottest teams in the league. They have won four straight, and have done so in convincing fashion as of late. Coming off the heels of a division beatdown win versus a shaky New York Giants team, it will be important for the Cowboys to turn the page and not look past a New England Patriots team that you can expect to be well-coached.

The Cowboys haven’t beaten the Patriots since 1996, but it is safe to say the two teams are headed in two vastly different directions since their last meeting in 2019. Tom Brady isn’t there any more, and this Patriots team is not nearly as talented as teams in years past. The Cowboys would be wise to not underestimate them as they do possess some skill players, and they always play with the discipline that is expected with a Bill Belichick coached team. The Cowboys will need to be on point to walk out of Gillette Stadium with a win on Sunday night, and limiting mental mistakes will go a long way in securing a fifth straight win heading into the bye.

You can look at all three phases of both these teams and convincingly state that there is an X-Factor on all three units. However, these two individuals, one a Cowboy, one a Patriot, will have the biggest impact on Monday’s game.

Dallas Cowboys X-Factor:

Randy Gregory

NFL: Carolina Panthers at Dallas Cowboys Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

This Patriots offensive line has dealt with some issues for most of this season and they will not be at full strength come Sunday once again. They surely will be without Isaiah Wynn their starting LT again due to COVID-19, while also playing another game without their starting RT Trent Brown who just recently had been put on injured reserve.

Randy Gregory will be important to this teams success as he will look to take advantage of the Patriots backup tackles on his way to affecting rookie quarterback Mac Jones. Look for Dallas to bring pressure and continue to be exotic in how they come with that pressure, but the X-Factor for the Cowboys come Sunday will be just how disruptive can Randy Gregory be in his one-on-one matchups.

Patriots X-Factor:

Damien Harris (or replacement running back)

NFL: New England Patriots at Houston Texans Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Part of the recipe to protecting a rookie quarterback is to lean on your running game. There is no secret that Josh McDaniels and the rest of the Patriots offensive staff have simplified, and have played it safe, when it comes to Mac Jones. Rather than forcing the game to be won at the hand of Jones, they have made sure more importantly that it hasn’t been lost by Jones either.

Damien Harris is banged up and listed as questionable going into Sunday’s game, but his availability has progressed positively as the week has gone on, and that is good news for the Patriots. The Cowboys will key on Harris and the rest of his running mates as the Cowboy will look to force the Patriots into making Jones to beat them. If Harris plays and is able to get going in the run game, it could spell issues for this Cowboys defense as the Patriots will look to play time of possession and keep this high powered offense on the sideline. Contain Damien Harris (or his replacement backs), and you contain the Patriots and their offense.