Will the Cowboys miss Greg Zurlein more than they think this week?
The Cowboys look to rebound against the Falcons this week after suffering their first home loss of the season.
The Cowboys will face a Falcons team that enters AT&T Stadium at 4-4, winners of three of their last four games.
Could these two teams play anything close to the 2020 game back in Week 2, when the Cowboys rallied from 20-0 deficit to win 40-39?
Here are 12 “Big Facts” to note ahead of Sunday’s battle with the Falcons at Noon CT on FOX.
Cowboys will need to get back on track against Atlanta.
Look for the Cowboys’ short-yardage running game to be more fruitful than it was last week against Denver.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Cowboys were gashed last week by the Broncos.
Fortunately, for Dallas, Atlanta has the second-worst rushing attack in the NFL, ahead of only the New York Jets. They average just 3.4 yards per attempt. The main weapon out of the backfield for the Falcons is Cordarrelle Patterson, and he is not an in-between-the-tackles runner as he has played wide receiver for most of his career.
Patterson is an explosive weapon catching the ball out of the backfield, having 38 grabs for 459 yards, although some of those catches have been with Patterson lined up as a receiver.
The Falcons will also be without Calvin Ridley, leaving Tajae Sharpe and Olamide Zaccheaus as their top two wideouts, but their top pass-catcher is the rookie Tight End, Kyle Pitts.
The Cowboys have allowed 466 yards receiving on 44 catches this year to opposing tight ends, so Pitts may be a struggle for the Cowboys. He lines up as a traditional tight end as well as a wide receiver, and it will be imperative for the Cowboys to slow down Pitts to keep the Falcons’ offense in check.
Cowboys vs. Falcons: Week 10 matchups to watch for the Dallas Cowboys - Brian Martin, DallasCowboys.com
Matchups to keep an eye on.
Micah Parsons vs. Cordarrelle Patterson
Micah Parsons may not be directly tasked with shadowing Cordarrelle Patterson Sunday against the Falcons, but he is someone with the ability to contain such a unique and versatile player. Patterson’s ability to do damage as a running back or wide receiver is something the Cowboys defense is going to have to account for on every single play. Parsons is without a doubt Dallas’ best defensive player and his size and speed matches up well against Patterson’s unique versatility. Keep an eye on these two players in Week 10.
Tarell Basham vs. Jake Matthews
Randy Gregory versus Jake Matthews would’ve been an excellent matchup to watch and one that probably favored the Dallas Cowboys. But, with No. 94 missing at least three weeks with a calf strain, someone else will have to step up. Tarell Basham is likely the next man up, but Dan Quinn will probably use a rotation between him and Chauncey Golston to find out who can get the better of the Falcons left tackle. Putting as much pressure on Matt Ryan’s blindside would greatly benefit the Cowboys defense. Hopefully someone steps up.
What’s been going on with Trevon Diggs over the last few weeks?
Dallas Cowboys’ Trevon Diggs is volatile but he has the pieces to become elite
According to Pro Football Focus Trevon Diggs is the 103rd graded CB this season out of 117 that have been graded (51.9). And in coverage he is 72nd (59.8). For anyone unfamiliar with how PFF grading works each play the player participates in gets a grade between -2 and 2 and at the end of the game they’ll get a grade out of 100. For context the highest graded CB over the season is Jalen Ramsey (83.9), so a grade of anything above a 90 is playing consistently at an exceptionally elite level. Regardless, any grade between 50-60 is pretty mediocre.
Both of these interceptions are fantastic reads on the ball. Let’s focus on the one versus Jalen Hurts. The Dallas Cowboys defense comes out in a 4-3 with what looks like a man coverage with one high safety.
That mean that it’s just Diggs 1 on 1 against former college teammate Devonta Smith. Smith runs about a 5-6 yard out route and seemed to pretty clearly been Jalen Hurts’ first read for this play. Diggs jumps it beautifully. Smith looked open for a brief second and that’s because Trevon Diggs was playing off the line of scrimmage. A quick-hitting out route shouldn’t have been too much of an issue and the way the defense was lined up I’m sure Hurts thought he had the perfect play call.
Hurts drops back and throws, Smith stumbles, falls, and it’s pick six one of two on the season for Trevon Diggs. Whether or not Smith stumbles here doesn’t really affect the result of the play, Diggs was housing that one no matter what.
Dallas Cowboys should establish dominance in the trenches vs Falcon - Mauricio Rodriguez, A to Z Dallas
It’s won and loss in the trenches.
But there’s one thing that’s clearly different from the Cowboys’ opponent this weekend. It’s different from the Los Angeles Chargers (when Dallas also missed Gregory) and the Denver Broncos (that absolutely dominated the Cowboys physically).
That one thing is that the Dallas Cowboys can dominate the line of scrimmage against the Falcons. It will be a challenge to do so without the team’s top pass rusher this season, but the thing is the Atlanta Falcons offensive line is… bad.
As mentioned in the above clip of my show A to Z Sports Dallas Primetime, the Falcons’ offensive line is ranked 30th in the NFL by PFF. Atlanta’s linemen have all given up double-digit pressures this season and there are no signs of it getting better anytime soon.
What about on the other side of the ball? That’s a more interesting topic given how different evaluations are on the Cowboys’ offensive line. PFF ranks it as the best O-line in the league. Yet they rank 28th in ESPN’s pass rush win rate. The jury is still out on an offensive line that’s seen most of its struggles come from Connor Williams and Tyler Biadasz.
Last weekend, Terence Steele struggled in his first game of the year taking over the left side, but the second-year swing tackle should improve with more practice over there.
But there is good news! Do you know that Atlanta Falcons offensive line that we just described as bad? Well, Atlanta ranks 31st in the NFL in pressure rate. And they don’t blitz all that much, ranking 21st in the league in blitz rate.
The Cowboys should have the edge on both sides of the line of scrimmage, and that will go a long way in making this a very different game from what we witnessed vs the Broncos last Sunday.
It’ll be Terence Steele at LT for the second straight week.
3:08 p.m. – Starting left tackle Tyron Smith will miss a second straight game because of an ankle injury.
The Cowboys officially ruled Smith out of Sunday’s game against the Falcons. Wide receiver Cedrick Wilson (shoulder) is listed as questionable for Sunday, but the Cowboys are expected to activate Michael Gallup from injured reserve this week.
Terence Steele started at left tackle for Smith last week and said the transition was a little more challenging than he expected after a successful five straight starts at right tackle for La’el Collins. But Steele said he’s feeling more comfortable on the left side this week with more reps.
Click here for the full injury report for the Cowboys and Falcons.
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