December football is upon us, and the Cowboys kick things off with a Sunday Night Football clash against the Colts. Entering the game at 4-7-1, Indianapolis is led by interim head coach Jeff Saturday, easily the most bizarre story in the NFL this year. This is the Cowboys’ first of their cross-divisional slate of games with the weak AFC South, with two more games following immediately after.
As such, the Cowboys enter this game as heavy favorites. But with this being a nationally televised game, will it turn into a trap game for them? Let’s see what our writers think.
When Indianapolis has the ball
Pressure is key
The Colts are spending more money on their offensive line than any other team but it hasn’t stopped that unit from struggling to keep 37-year-old Matt Ryan clean. Ryan is currently seeing pressure at the ninth highest rate and he’s also the fifth most sacked quarterback in the league despite missing two games.
Three of the four quarterbacks ahead of him in sacks taken have already faced a Dallas defense that leads the league in both sacks and pressures. When Ryan is under pressure this season, he’s completing 50.5% of his passes with eight interceptions and 12 fumbles. That’s a big reason why the Colts offense leads the league in turnovers. If Micah Parsons and this pass rush can get to Ryan, they should have a field day.
When Dallas has the ball
Take what the defense gives you
Colts defensive coordinator Gus Bradley runs a very simple scheme, so the fact that his unit is currently ranked 13th in defensive DVOA is impressive. Bradley’s defense plays a lot of single-high safety looks and rarely blitzes. The idea is to take away the deep plays and make offenses dink-and-dunk you to death. Only four other defenses are allowing less yards per play than Indianapolis right now, so it seems to be working.
This defense is beatable, though. They struggle to create takeaways or get to the quarterback with any consistency and they’re giving up the eighth most yards after catch. Dak Prescott and this offense will have to sustain longer drives to move into scoring position, but there will be plenty of opportunities to do just that. If they can focus on chipping away at this unit, Dallas will be able to have their way with them.
Now onto the predictions from your BTB writers...
Tom Ryle (7-4):
The Cowboys seem to be hitting their full stride for the final third of the season, while the Colts are all but eliminated from the playoffs. Dallas clearly has more talent and I think they want to let the rest of the league they are a team to be reckoned with. They also seem to alternate between fast and slow starts, and this is due for a fast one.
I’m looking for another blowout, with the Cowboys winning 34-16.
Tony Catalina (6-5):
Sunday begins a stretch of some truly winnable games for the Dallas Cowboys. Now there is no reason for them to think like that, but we’re all thinking it so it’s okay for us to say it. That being said, we have seen this team let us down before in these scenarios, but I’m confident we won’t see that here in 2022.This Cowboys team is different in a lot of ways. This defense is real, this offense is rounding into form, and this team is completely bought in.
Give me a dominant Cowboys win. 34-13.
Matt Holleran (5-6):
Before the season when you looked at this matchup the Colts seemed like one of Dallas’ more challenging opponents. 12 weeks into the 2022 season that has really changed. Indianapolis has had a very disappointing season, so bad that they had to fire their head coach.
The Colts can’t protect their quarterback and struggle to put up points on offense. This is exactly the type of team that the Cowboys should dominate, and I see them doing just that Sunday night. Dallas’ defense puts together one of their best performances of the year in a big win.
Give me Dallas, 27-13.
Brandon Loree (7-4):
There is no reason the Cowboys should lose this game. They have beaten up bad teams in the past like they were supposed to, outside of the Broncos game a season ago.
This feels very similar to the 43-3 win they had over the Falcons last season, where Dan Quinn schemed against his former QB, Matt Ryan. Oh, wait, Ryan is now with the Colts and can be beaten again. The only way I see the Cowboys losing this game is if they let Jonathan Taylor rush for over 150 yards, and the Colts’ defense can pressure Dak Prescott. However, Dallas’ strength is Indianapolis’s weakness up front with the offensive line.
I see Dallas winning this game 30-10.
Matthew Arizzi (7-4):
All things considered, this game screams Cowboys. Matt Ryan has just about as many interceptions as touchdowns this season. The Colts are coming off a short week in which they lost and the Cowboys are off an extra rest win. There’s no reason the Cowboys shouldn’t win this game.
I’m looking for Dak Prescott to play a clean game of football and for Michael Gallup to build off the momentum he built last week. Those are the two things I have my eyes set on, not necessarily paths to victory, so to speak. Nevertheless, I’ll take the Cowboys with the Colts covering.
Cowboys 27, Colts 17.
Mike Poland (8-2):
The Colts are second worst in turnover differential with -10. Their offensive line has given up the most sacks so far this year, and the Cowboys have sacked the quarterback the most. Jonathan Taylor is the Wildcard, but with LVE and Damone Clark covering the runner well at the moment from the off-ball linebacker position, things look bright.
Cowboys win 31-10.
Brian Martin (8-3):
I’m going to predict the Dallas Cowboys not only easily take care of the Indianapolis Colts this week, but do it in a big way by completely shutting them out. There’s nothing about this Colts team the Cowboys shouldn’t be able to handle if they play the kind of football we all know they’re capable of.
Cowboys win, 27-0.
RJ Ochoa (7-4):
Look. I understand that the Dallas Cowboys have let us down many times in the past. And I get it if you are worried about this being some sort of trap game. But on paper, rock and chisel, or in an excel sheet... this Dallas Cowboys team is significantly better than this Indianapolis Colts team. That’s what it ultimately comes down to.
Give me the Cowboys and let’s start December off in style.
David Howman (8-3):
The Cowboys are 7-1 under Mike McCarthy in the month of December, with all seven wins coming against teams with a losing record. As Dallas prepares for their first game in December this year, they’re facing yet another team with a losing record in the Colts.
Indianapolis has a quietly solid defense. The Cowboys have the manpower to score against them, but I think a 40 burger is probably unlikely. I see the Cowboys getting an early lead and then working to kill the clock, which won’t lead to a barrage of points but still a dominant victory.
Cowboys win, 24-0.