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Cowboys mailbag: Questions on the running game, playing in the cold and playoff situation

Our latest mailbag features plenty of questions about the Dallas Cowboys.

NFL: DEC 10 Eagles at Cowboys Photo by Matthew Pearce/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Every week, we take questions on Twitter and Facebook about Dallas Cowboys players and other questions surrounding the team. So let’s get right into it.

“How do the Cowboys get the running game going more?”

(Jason Swisher via Facebook)

Mike: The last few weeks has seen the run game improve. For the season the Dallas Cowboys are averaging 118 rush yards per game, but in the last three games they have averaged 125 rush yards. They’ve also improved in rush yards per attempt in the last three games ranking seventh at 4.5 yards per attempt. One reason has been finding a good balance with Tony Pollard and Rico Dowdle, the other part is the offensive line improving as a run-blocking unit. The gap blocking has improved some but the zone blocking in inside runs has gotten better. The start of the season saw some of the starters miss time or still working back from injury, but now they’ve spent time together playing finding cohesion.

Brandon: One way the Cowboys could improve running the ball is by throwing it to their running backs more often. Tony Pollard’s skill set also involves being a dynamic pass catcher and someone who could be a mismatch on linebackers.

Here’s what I mean—If Pollard lines up next to Prescott in the shotgun and runs a Texas Route out of the backfield, that puts the opposing linebacker in a difficult spot to run with Pollard on his cut. Since that look comes from shotgun, the Cowboys could show something similar where, instead, he runs a draw play up the middle to keep the defense honest with the threat of a pass.

It’s not the only way to fix the run game, but showing different passing looks with Pollard or Dowdle out of shotgun or I-formation could keep defenses guessing and allow more running lanes to open if successful.

“How big of a factor will the rain, chill and wind be for a Dallas team tuned to play indoors?”

(Craig Cameron via Facebook)

Mike: The conditions will play a huge factor. Expect to see more running of the ball and less deep shots, but the way the Buffalo Bills defense works, that could play into the Cowboys favor. The Bills defense allow an average of 4.7 yards-per-carry, which is third-worst in the NFL. The other added bonus with having to play a game heavily featuring the running backs is the Bills defensive line is predicated mostly on the pass rush, which has meant the run stopping isn’t something they’re good at. So that’s another plus to playing in western New York conditions this weekend.

Brandon: The NFL has shown certain quarterbacks can not play well in cold environments and outdoors. Jared Goff struggles in those conditions because his smaller hand size contributes to more turnovers.

For Dak Prescott’s career, he has a record of 32-24 playing outdoors. Prescott is also 20-6 for his career when playing in December. Not all of those games have been outdoors, but some have. For instance, last season against the Titans in December, it wasn’t the best performance by Prescott statistically, but he did enough not to put his team in harm's way and allow Tennessee to come back.

Remember that Mike McCarthy knows a thing or two about playing cold-weather games, having spent most of his career in Green Bay. Be sure that he’ll have the Cowboys ready to play, leaning on his experience of working in all kinds of conditions. Having to hit each other in the cold and rain is never fun, but that makes football great this time of year.

“If the Cowboys win this weekend, do they secure a playoff spot?”

(Chris Thomas via Facebook)

Brandon: Plain and simple—Win and in. Now, if the Cowboys don’t win in Buffalo, they could still secure a playoff berth with help from other NFC teams. Here are the various scenarios from Todd Archer.

POLL OF THE WEEK

Poll

How points will the Dallas Cowboys score this weekend?

This poll is closed

  • 2%
    3-13
    (13 votes)
  • 23%
    14-24
    (137 votes)
  • 66%
    25-35
    (383 votes)
  • 6%
    35+
    (39 votes)
572 votes total Vote Now

Be sure to check Blogging The Boys as well as @kenfigkowboy and @brandoniswrite on X and also Facebook for the weekly post, asking for your questions to include in the weekly mailbag. Many thanks to everyone who send in your questions and votes.

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