clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Cowboys must find motivation for unfamiliar opponent Jaguars with Eagles rematch looming

Do the Cowboys need to win big this weekend to prove they’re still elite following the Texans game?

Jacksonville Jaguars v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images

So far, so good for the Dallas Cowboys against the AFC South. In two home games against the Colts and Texans, the Cowboys have escaped upset bids - most recently needing a final-minute touchdown - and kept the Eagles within sight atop the NFC East. Now, they face a road challenge against the Jaguars with an all-important rematch versus the Eagles to follow.

Sunday will mark the first meeting between the Cowboys and Jaguars since 2018, and is the last scheduled early kickoff for Dallas this season. A ten-win contender in the NFC, the Cowboys return to their rightful place in primetime or the late window over the final three weeks. With the Texans game last week possibly serving as a wake up call, this Sunday again has all the makings of a trap the Cowboys can’t afford to fall into.

It was the Cowboys offense that had to find itself late in last week’s win after keeping the game close with turnovers and other mistakes. Their last meeting with the Jaguars should serve as inspiration they can turn it around this week, winning 40-7 on 17-27 passing from Dak Prescott. The Cowboys attacked the Jaguars on the ground with Ezekiel Elliott carrying 26 times for 106 yards and a score, averaging over five yards a play in the blowout.

This breakout game for the Cowboys offense came the week after they faced similar concerns, coming off an overtime loss to the Texans. Instead of facing the Jaguars at 2-3 in a fight for relevance, the Cowboys are getting them at Jacksonville for the first time since 2006, and this time it’s a December game. Terrell Owens and Terry Glenn were the Cowboys leading receivers that day and Anthony Henry led them in tackles.

Whether or not style points matter is a discussion best left for this time next week, as the Eagles winning big early in the season has given them a grip on the top spot in power rankings they haven’t let up. The Cowboys last two games against the Jaguars have been won by at least 14, but they get a Jacksonville team coming off a 36-22 win in Tennessee. It was the Jaguars first win versus the Titans since 2019, and first on the road since 2013. Trevor Lawrence had a career day with 368 yards, throwing three touchdowns for just the fourth time in his short career.

If this was a coming out party for Lawrence trying to make the leap so many young quarterbacks have this season, Sunday needs to be a reality check delivered by Dan Quinn’s defense. While Quinn is still working through lineup changes sprung by injuries to Anthony Brown, Jonathan Hankins, and Dorance Armstrong, their goal line stand helped save the game last week. The Cowboys defense draws a Jaguars offense that ranks in the middle of the pack (pride?) in every offensive category except for passing yards per game, where they’re top ten.

They’re doing so with Zay Jones, Christian Kirk, and Evan Engram leading the way at receiver while keeping Lawrence upright at the fifth best pace in the league. The Cowboys lead the NFL in this category at 1.2 sacks allowed per game, while their opponent this week isn’t far behind at 1.8. It will be interesting to see how much the Cowboys defense still tries to bring pressure and force the ball out of Lawrence’s hands against a secondary with some new faces in it, or opts to play coverage and force him to drive the field multiple times. The Jaguars can also counter this with Lawrence’s read-option game, something the Cowboys have struggled to defend. Lawrence has rushed for 218 yards and four touchdowns this season, including one last week.

By the late window on Sunday, Cowboys fans will be able to officially look ahead to the Eagles - something that’s been happening in the media for weeks, and may have gotten to the team itself against the Texans. The type of win or loss the Cowboys are coming into this Christmas Eve matchup with will be telling, with the 5-8 Jaguars consistently playing better than their record this season - even keeping the Eagles game close on the road before a 29-21 loss.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the Blogging The Boys Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of all your Dallas Cowboys news from Blogging The Boys