The Dallas Cowboys got back on track in Week 4 against a struggling New England Patriots team. Fresh off a tough first loss against the Arizona Cardinals, the Cowboys did what they had to do and handled business to get back on the winning side of things.
With a trip to San Francisco, and all that comes with this opponent, the Cowboys quickly need to turn the page to a 49ers team that looks to be the best in the NFL. The Cowboys' kryptonite has been this very team. They have ended the Cowboys’ season two years in a row now. The Cowboys are hell-bent on proving they can slay the dragon that is San Fran.
Let’s take a closer look at this matchup and see who, on both teams, may end up being X-factors for Sunday’s matchup.
Dallas Cowboys X-factor:
With Trevon Diggs out for the season, what the Cowboys are now asking of Gilmore is very different than what they had originally hoped would be his role when they brought him in. With the 49ers on the schedule, it is clear that this will be the toughest test yet for the team, especially for Gilmore since joining the Cowboys.
Gilmore, who has played at a really high level since joining the team in a lot of areas, does show at least one weakness on tape. What makes this week a challenge is that weakness is a strength of this week’s opponent. Gilmore’s deficiencies come on the crossers in the intermediate and underneath areas where he is tasked to run stride for stride with guys across the field. At the age of 33, chasing stride for stride with the likes of Bradon Aiyuk and Deebo Samuel isn’t as easy as it once was and it'll play a huge factor in this matchup.
Gilmore is playing really good football right now, a lot of his work goes unnoticed, but he is bringing a veteran presence and stability to this Cowboys secondary. It’s just a tough matchup in a league where the old boxing saying “styles make fights” rings very true with. Gilmore’s play on every play, especially in this area, will be a huge factor in how this game plays out on Sunday.
San Francisco 49ers X-factor:
Brock Purdy is doing exactly what Kyle Shanahan and this offense needs him to do. He is protecting the ball and making smart decisions. With the group of talent around him and the defense this team has, that's really all Purdy needs to do.
However, if the Cowboys are able to disrupt Purdy and find a way to make him uncomfortable, it could play a huge part in this Week 5 matchup. Purdy hasn’t thrown an interception yet this year, but it doesn't mean that the opportunity hasn’t presented itself. He has thrown some risky passes that have worked out for him, but with this opportunistic Cowboys defense, it could be a change of fortune for the young QB.
There are a lot to be worried about when it comes to the 49ers, but if the Cowboys are able to affect Purdy, they could do so enough to give them their first loss of the season.