It’s another week and another opportunity to see the Dallas Cowboys in action. This Sunday’s matchup sends Dallas north to face the Bills, currently embroiled in an eight-team battle royal for the AFC’s wild card spots. We know Buffalo will be giving it their all but they still have weaknesses Dallas can exploit. Which Cowboys are more or less likely to shine against the Bills?
TE Jake Ferguson
An emerging force in Dallas’ offense over the last two weeks, Ferguson is now a top-10 tight end in catches, yards, and touchdowns this season. That hot streak could easily continue in Buffalo after they just gave up 83 yards to Travis Kelce. The Bills will be missing starting safety Micah Hyde, who was declared out with a neck stinger, and that should help the Cowboys find openings in the middle of the field.
If these factors weren’t enough, Buffalo’s general defensive strategy could play well into what Dak Prescott likes to do, and where he and Ferguson have been finding success already this season.
The Bills use two-high shells at the third-highest rate in the league, but luckily for the #Cowboys, Dak has proven to be very effective against two-high defenses this season, ranking 6th in PFF passing grade, 7th in big-time throw rate (min. 50 dropbacks)— John Owning (@JohnOwning) December 15, 2023
Expect Prescott to attack the seams down the middle against this look, and expect Ferguson to be on the receiving end of at least a few of those targets. But even if Buffalo changes things up in their scheme, especially with Hyde out, the chemistry brewing between Prescott and Ferguson lately says they should be able to connect no matter what the Bills do.
LB Micah Parsons
The Bills have been vulnerable on the edges all year, so who better to exploit it than the best edge rusher in the game? We saw Parsons bully Lane Johnson last Sunday, even while fighting illness, so the opportunity for a big game here is ripe.
A disruptive day for Parsons will be huge against Bills QB Josh Allen; not allowing him to extend plays and hopefully limiting his run options as well. While Buffalo could exploit Parsons’ aggression with Allen’s versatility, Parsons can blow up those efforts if he gets there fast enough.
RB Tony Pollard
It’s been tough sledding for Pollard lately, averaging just 3.5 yards per carry over the last two games. Buffalo has been stiffer against the run than either Seattle or Philadelphia lately, plus the weather report could mean messy field conditions for a speed runner. It’s just not adding up to a big day for Dallas’ top running back.
The Bills have been vulnerable to receiving backs lately, giving up big numbers against the Jets and Broncos. Pollard is coming off an eight-target night against the Eagles, matching his season high, so perhaps that will help him contribute in other ways.
DT Mazi Smith
Moving into a bigger role with Johnathan Hankins’ injury, Dallas’ first-round rookie will get a lot of attention this week. Unfortunately, he could get a lot of the blame if Bills RB James Cook keeps up his recent production. Cook’s had over 100 total yards from scrimmage in each of Buffalo’s last four games and a strong year overall.
The Cowboys have shown improved rush defense recently against Philadelphia, Seattle, and Washington. not allowing their primary backs to average better than 3.5 yards per run. If Cook goes off for a big game, the forced switch from Hankins to Smith will be pointed at. Even if it’s unfair or superficial, that won’t stop criticism for the rookie.