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Cowboys at Patriots: Writer predictions for tough road test against New England

Can the Cowboys extend their streak before the bye?

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

The Cowboys and Patriots don’t play very often, but that doesn’t take the sting out of Dallas’ current six-game losing streak to this team, even if they’re on a four-game winning streak coming into this one. The Patriots aren’t what they used to be since Tom Brady left, but they’re a tough team to beat in Foxborough regardless.

Even so, the Cowboys are the favorites in this one, giving this matchup a slight feeling of a potential trap game. A win on Sunday would send a message about how serious this team should be taken, although injuries to key players like Tyron Smith and Trevon Diggs, both of whom are expected to play, threatens to upset the Cowboys’ plans. How confident are we that they can overcome these challenges?

When New England has the ball

Controlled chaos

It may be time to admit that the Patriots’ two decades-plus of offensive brilliance had more to do with Tom Brady than offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels. Last year’s offense under Cam Newton was less than inspiring, and with rookie Mac Jones running things now, McDaniels has implemented a wildly bland offense that hardly asks Jones to do anything of difficulty. Jones rarely goes deep, and when he does it’s usually an incompletion.

For the second week in a row, the Patriots could be without four of their five starters along the offensive line. Left tackle Isaiah Wynn and left guard Michael Onwenu are both still on the COVID-19 list, while right tackle Justin Herron has missed time in practice this week and right guard Shaq Mason has been ruled out. Jones has already been playing timid and going out of his way to avoid mistakes, but with so much uncertainty up front, the Cowboys will need to create havoc for the rookie and speed up his process. Dan Quinn and this defense have already shown an ability to do so this year, but they’ll need to really ramp it up on the road.

When Dallas has the ball

It all starts up front

Bill Belichick has had so much success defensively because of his ability to, as Michael Irvin put, make the other team beat him left-handed. That means that Belichick has a tendency to identify what an offense does best and take it away. Against the Cowboys, there’s not simply one thing to take away, although there is an avenue to be exploited.

The Cowboys offensive line has been dominant so far this year, but there are a few Achilles heels. Center Tyler Biadasz has struggled in pass protection and, at least for the last two games, with snapping the ball. Terence Steele has been playing better than anyone outside of the team facility expected, but he’s still got some problems in pass protection. And Tyron Smith is having neck issues again, although the team sounds optimistic. Expect star edge rusher Matthew Judon to alternate between attacking both Steele and Smith, while the quietly effective rookie Christian Barmore will likely draw plenty of reps against Biadasz.

New England plays man coverage at an extremely high rate this year, and they rank second in the NFL in Cover 1 man right now. Dak Prescott has been routinely great against man coverage, and his receivers are equipped to beat it, too. But if the offensive line’s weaknesses get exposed, there may not be enough time for receivers to get open, and that threatens to derail Dallas’ entire operation in a hostile environment.

Now onto the predictions from your BTB writers...

Tom Ryle:

For the Cowboys to lose this game, pretty much everything we have seen about them AND about the Patriots so far would have to be a mirage. After five weeks, that is all but impossible. Dallas is a better team with better talent, and for once the coaching is pretty much a wash as Belichick is finding out even he can’t win games with a severe lack of talent. I am a bit concerned about the Tyron Smith injury news, but not enough to back off on my prediction.

The Cowboys get another big win, 37-19.

Terence Watson:

America’s Team going up against the Evil Empire, that would have been a headline game a few years back but without the shine of quarterback Tom Brady it’s lost some of its luster. That doesn’t make it any less of an important game for the Dallas Cowboys this week. The Cowboys are looking to take their winning streak on the road heading into Foxborough where Bill Belichick and his still formidable New England Patriots defense are waiting.

The Cowboys will be facing their toughest defense since their week one loss to the defending champions, but they have the fortune of going against a weaker offensive team with a weakened offensive line. For that reason I see the Cowboys defense leading the way and giving the Cowboys offense good field position a few times during the game, a game I have the Cowboys winning in a close one.

Prediction: Cowboys 21, Patriots 17.

Matt Holleran:

This is going to be an interesting game. Gillette Stadium is not an easy place to play, just look at the Patriots 20-8 record at home since the start of the 2018 season. Fortunately for the Cowboys, this Patriots team looks a lot less talented than they did in 2018 and 2019. While I do think the Cowboys are clearly the better team, I don’t see this game being as easy as their last three victories have been.

On offense, the Cowboys should be able to move the ball through the air. On defense, Dallas should be able to prey on Mac Jones’ struggles to take care of the football. Overall, I think this is a competitive game that comes down to the wire. Dallas gets a game-sealing fourth-down conversion with a little over two minutes left, sealing the victory.

Give me the Cowboys in a close one, 26-20.

Darreck Kirby:

Although New England has had tremendous success against Dallas over the past decade plus, the equation is unquestionably different in 2021. The Cowboys are riding high with a seemingly unguardable offense and a turnover-hungry defense that’s always craving seconds. Bill Belichick might be capable of drawing up the perfect game plan but if Dallas executes, it’s overall balance and superior talent will be too much for the Patriots to contend with.

Should Dallas build an early lead, Mac Jones will be forced to start throwing on every down, and if there’s one thing we can count on with a rookie quarterback in the face of a ball-hawk defense it’s that mistakes can and probably will happen. Out of respect for Belichick’s game-planning acumen, I’ll keep it somewhat close.

Give me Dallas 27-17 on the road.

Aidan Davis:

With the Cowboys traveling to Foxborough to face Bill Belichick and the always-impressive Patriots defense, it is easy to believe the game will be competitive. However, I do not see that as being the case here. Yes, the Patriots have a top ten defense, but it doesn’t really matter at this point. Even after two consecutive losses, the Panthers boast a top three defense by most metrics, and the Cowboys were still able to hang 36 on them. The Patriots rushing defense is nothing spectacular, so expect another game where Zeke and Pollard rip off yards at will.

As for the Patriots offense, it will likely be the worst that Dallas has seen thus far. Mac Jones is looking like the best rookie quarterback this year, but that isn’t saying a whole lot. Jones has a bright future, but for now Belichick simply wants him to be a game manager. Pair this with a weaker rushing attack and it is hard to believe the Patriots’ offense will be able to play catch-up. Unless the Cowboys make mistakes and give Belichick a window of opportunity, this should be a relatively comfortable game for Dallas.

Dallas Cowboys 31, New England Patriots 17.

Tony Catalina:

This is another game where the Cowboys come in and are clearly more talented than their opponent. The major difference is the level of talent that is dawning the headsets on the other side. when ever you play a Belichick coached team you better be prepared and on point or they will expose you. Dallas will need to play clean, mistake free football, and if they do so there is no reason why they shouldn’t walk out of Gillette Stadium with a W.

Look for the Patriots to hone in on Dalton Schultz and see if taking away Dak’s safety valve will throw him off is game, and although as a result of that, Schultz might not have a good game, look for Dak to use his other talented weapons to attack this defense. This game will stay close for a while but ultimately the better team prevails and the Cowboys head into the bye on a five game win streak.

Cowboys 27 Patriots 17.

Brian Martin:

The only teams the New England Patriots have beaten this year are the Jets and Texans, two teams in a bit of a rebuild with rookie quarterbacks and new head coaches/coaching staffs. They aren’t a team that should give the Dallas Cowboys much trouble if they play the way they’ve played all season. I’ll even go as far as saying the Patriots are arguably the least talented team the Cowboys have faced off against so far this year.

Because of that, I’m expecting a relatively easy victory. I just don’t think the Patriots can do enough defensively to slow down the Cowboys high-scoring offense. Bill Belichick may be a defensive mastermind, but Kellen Moore has way too many offensive weapons at his disposal to put a Belichick-led defense in checkmate.

Score prediction: 33-13, Cowboys.

Danny Phantom:

The Cowboys haven’t beaten the Patriots in 25 years, so why should Sunday be any different? Well, there are a lot of reasons actually and they all start with how Kellen Moore can carve up defenses. New England is very smart in their defensive scheme so the chess match will be fun to watch. In the end the Cowboys offense will be too tough to stop, and Daddy Mac Jones doesn’t throw downfield enough to keep up. Barring some slopping field conditions or sloppy ball control, the Cowboys finally snap this quarter century losing streak.

Cowboys 26, Patriots 20.

David Howman:

Through five games, the Cowboys have given me very little reason to doubt them, and yet I still find myself increasingly worried about this game. If Dallas can go into a very tough place to win and come out victorious, I’ll never doubt them again. But for me, it’s just hard to assume this team can win against Belichick in Foxboro.

I expect to see Prescott under pressure quite often, as Belichick will come up with some schematic wizardry that finally stifles this potent offense. Defensively, the Cowboys will hold their own against Mac Jones, but if the Cowboys offense can’t get things going then this becomes a rubber match. And those are exactly the type of games these Patriots historically excel in.

Cowboys lose 18-15.

We discussed everything as it relates to the Dallas Cowboys and New England Patriots during our Preview Show for this week’s game on the Blogging The Boys YouTube Channel. We also spoke to our friends from Pats Pulpit to understand exact what Dallas is up against.

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