The Cowboys return home after enduring a tough loss to the Cardinals. Under Mike McCarthy the past two years, this team has made it a habit of responding in a big way after a bad loss, but the opponent is pretty tough this week with the Patriots coming to town. New England may only be 1-2, but their two losses came within one score against two of the three remaining undefeated teams in the league.
For Dallas, they’re expected to get Tyler Biadasz and Zack Martin back for this game after playing without them last week, though Tyron Smith has already been ruled out. That likely means a fourth straight start for Chuma Edoga, and his second at left tackle, as the Cowboys try to bounce back against a team that features running back Ezekiel Elliott returning to AT&T Stadium for the first time since he was cut this offseason. Let’s find out what our writers are expecting in this matchup.
When New England has the ball
Shore up the run defense
The Dallas defense got torched by the Cardinals last week, and much of it came on the ground against a run-heavy offense. The Patriots are similarly inclined, with three more carries than Arizona through the first three weeks and the ninth-highest early down run rate.
New England hasn’t had the success that the Cardinals have, as they’re currently 19th in rushing DVOA and averaging a paltry 3.7 yards per carry. But the duo of Rhamondre Stevenson and former Cowboy Ezekiel Elliott have shown flashes behind a makeshift offensive line this year. If the Cowboys can’t put up a better fight against this rushing attack, it may be time to talk about this as a very serious problem.
When Dallas has the ball
Score touchdowns, not field goals
This should go without saying, but the Cowboys have struggled to score in the red zone so far this year. They’re scoring a touchdown on just 40% of their red zone trips; only three teams are worse so far this year. Settling for field goals wasn’t enough to beat the Cardinals, and it certainly won’t be enough to beat a Patriots team that’s played three straight one-score games.
That said, the Patriots defense hasn’t been great in the red zone either. They’re giving up a touchdown on 66.7% of red zone appearances, 23rd worst in the NFL. To be fair, the Patriots haven’t had that many red zone appearances on defense, but they’ve struggled once they get in that spot. Just like the run defense, if Dallas can’t correct this issue against New England then it might be time to officially hit the panic button on this red zone offense.
Now onto the predictions from your BTB writers...
Tom Ryle (2-1):
I just don’t have a warm fuzzy about this one. There were so many issues last week and I really need to see the Cowboys fix a lot of them. I just worry about how much went bad. Hopefully a couple of the missing offensive line starters will be back, but that is hardly assured. And Bill Belichick is always a concern, especially with so many things on the tape he can attack. I hope they can pull this one off, but I think it is going to be a bit closer than we like.
I’ll still take the Cowboys to win by one of those automatic Brandon Aubrey field goals, 23-20.
Tony Catalina (2-1):
The Cowboys were, for lack of a better term, embarrassed last week. The Cardinals took it them for four quarters and the Cowboys were never able to get above water. A game like that, versus a team like that, tends to stick with you. Not only are the Cowboys far more talented than they showed last week, they are going to have a massive chip on their shoulder to prove it.
The Cowboys are out to prove they are not those guys and are much more like what they showed in the two weeks prior. All this adds up to bad news for a young Patriots team coming off their first win against the Jets.
Look for the Cowboys to come out focused and spoil Zeke’s homecoming to the tune of 27-17.
Matt Holleran (2-1):
This is a tough matchup to pick. I do see the Cowboys’ defense bouncing back from their dreadful performance in Arizona, but just how healthy will their offensive line be? If two of Zack Martin, Tyler Biadasz, and Tyron Smith are able to play a full game I feel confident Dallas will be able to score just enough to win.
But even if two of the group are able to start the game, who knows if they will be healthy enough to finish it. I’m going with my gut here and trusting Dak Prescott to put this offense on his back and make just enough plays to give Dallas the edge.
I’m not confident about it, but give me the Cowboys, 23-16.
Brandon Loree (2-1):
Everything coming from the locker room this week seems like the team is locked in and ready to get to 3-1. The only thing standing in their way is Bill Belichick, who knows everything about this team minus their social security numbers.
It’ll be interesting to see if they can get their passing offense going because I think a few Mac Jones turnovers will be the difference in this game. I have the Cowboys winning, the first time Dallas has beaten the Patriots at home since 1996.
Cowboys win, 17-7.
Matthew Lenix (2-1):
Dallas has a chance to dominate the Patriots offense line with their pass rush seeing as they give up a lot of pressure, and I think they will. That will keep the Patriots behind the chains and set up short fields for Dak Prescott and the Cowboys’ offense to work with.
Dallas wins 31-14.
Mike Poland (2-1):
The New England Patriots are scoring an average of 17 points per game, that’s the sixth-lowest in the league. For the Cowboys, their defense is allowing an average 12 points per game, the third-best in the league. The Cowboys defense will want to bounce back after a bad week and pressure Mac Jones constantly all day against a Patriots offensive line that is allowing the fourth-most pressures in the first three weeks.
Cowboys win 27-17.
Brian Martin (2-1):
After getting upset and embarrassed by the Arizona Cardinals last week, the Dallas Cowboys should be out to prove something in this Week 4 matchup with the New England Patriots. This is a game the Cowboys should probably win, but we thought that last week as well. I’m predicting a close game, but one Dallas walks away with the “W”.
Cowboys 17, Patriots 10.
RJ Ochoa (2-1):
This has been a long week and as a result it seems like people have forgotten how good the Cowboys are. I know that the Cardinals game was rough but we all know that this team is better than that.
Give me Dallas here to win and get back on track, something along the lines of 27-16.
David Howman (2-1):
I just do not feel good about this one. The Patriots defense is really, really good and I don’t doubt Bill Belichick’s ability to absolutely expose this offensive line, especially Chuma Edoga at left tackle. That said, I also expect the Dallas defense to bounce back against a Patriots group that has their own issues along the offensive line.
I can see this turning into a really low-scoring game, with solid games from both defenses. And if that’s the case, I don’t like the Cowboys’ odds with a referee crew that’s notoriously strict on home teams, one that has also called double-digit penalties on the Cowboys the last two times they called a game for Dallas. If the score is close but the penalty count is high, it’ll be a hard obstacle for the Cowboys to overcome. I hope I’m wrong, but...
Cowboys lose 17-13.