The Cowboys are riding high right now, having crushed the Eagles to move into first place in the NFC East, but there is still work to be done. They don’t control their destiny, and need to keep winning while hoping the Eagles lose one more.
That brings us to the daunting challenge of a road game in Buffalo. While the Bills are currently on the outside looking in at the playoffs, with a 7-6 record coming into this one, they’re still a dangerous team. And while there likely won’t be snow for this matchup, it’s expected to be windy and (possibly) rainy. Do our writers think they can overcome all that?
When Buffalo has the ball
Play disciplined and opportunistic defense
The Bills have built their entire offense around Josh Allen, a concept that more teams should embrace, but that also means this entire offense has adopted a gunslinger mentality. Most of the time, it’s going to work out for them; but there are times when this offense makes terrible blunders that cost them dearly. That’s why it’s so hard to stop them, because when Allen and this offense are on they’re nearly unstoppable, but there’s not really any trick to throwing them off.
In order to succeed, the Dallas defense needs to be disciplined and opportunistic. They can’t give Allen those big plays he desperately wants to hit, or keep drives alive with mistakes of their own. The Cowboys have generally been good about preventing big plays, but they’re also the most penalized defense in football. They also need to make plays when the Bills do make their mistakes, an area where Dallas is exceptional. They’ll have to put their best foot forward this week to slow down this offense.
When Dallas has the ball
Relentlessly attack the middle of the field
This Bills defense has been hit hard by injuries all season, but the two biggest losses were cornerback Tre’Davious White and linebacker Matt Milano, both of whom suffered season-ending injuries. Not only does that make it much harder to contain a receiver like CeeDee Lamb, but Milano’s absence has seriously hurt this defense in the middle of the field.
Since Milano’s injury, Buffalo is 31st in passer rating allowed on targets over the middle of the field. They also rank 30th in success rate allowed and 26th in EPA/play allowed on middle field throws. Prescott has been eating up defenses in the middle of the field this year, completing 69% of such passes and averaging a 102.6 passer rating. Lamb has been highly effective on those throws, and Jake Ferguson’s emergence as a downfield threat in the middle of the field has added a new element as well. Expect more of the same this Sunday.
Now onto the predictions from your BTB writers...
Tom Ryle (9-4):
I did an article and a podcast about how the Bills are a more formidable opponent than the Eagles were. They have a far better QB, and their defense is strong, especially against scoring. Josh Allen is a bit of a turnover machine, but that is always so hard to predict.
Add in that the Cowboys are playing on the road in what is predicted to be chilly, rainy weather in front of one of the best fan bases in the league, and this is going to be a real challenge. I would not be surprised to see this one come down to a Brandon Aubrey field goal for the win.
I think Dallas wins a one score nail-biter.
Tony Catalina (11-2):
This has the makings of being the trickiest of the remaining games for the Cowboys. A team that is far more talented than their record suggests, but has seemed to struggle at times.
The Bills need this win and they’re a good team at home so this is a recipe for a bad Sunday for the Cowboys. However, with that being said, Dallas proved a lot of doubters wrong last week, including myself, and I think they can do so again this week in a hostile environment against a team that needs to have it.
Give me Dallas 27-24.
Matt Holleran (11-2):
Riding high off last week’s big win Dallas heads into Buffalo playing as well as any team in the NFL. Dak Prescott is playing like the league MVP and the offense has scored 30 or more points in six of their last seven games.
While the Cowboys have been very impressive of late, I just have a bad feeling about Sunday’s game. Josh Allen is so dynamic and will cause problems for Dallas’ defense. I see the Bills putting up 30+ points and the Cowboys being forced to win a shootout. It’s not easy to win in Buffalo in December, and I see Dallas dropping this one.
Give me the Bills, 30-24.
Matthew Lenix (10-3):
With 15-18 mph winds, an 80% chance of rain, and a temperature near 50, this may need to be a game where the Dallas Cowboys rely on Tony Pollard and Rico Dowdle a little bit more. So in that case, the offensive line needs to control the game against the Buffalo Bills’ 19 ranked run defense.
Sprinkle in Dak Prescott making plays in the play action pass game and with his legs and the Cowboys win 27-17.
Mike Poland (10-3):
In the last three games the Cowboys have scored from inside the redzone 71% of the time. That’s sixth-best in the NFL. Over the same time, the Bills defense has allowed teams to score 88% of the time inside the redzone, third-worst in the league. On top of that the Bills offense has turned the ball over 21 times this year, fifth-most in the NFL. Where the Cowboys defense has forced 21 turnovers this year, the fourth-most.
The Cowboys win this one on the road 34-27.
Brian Martin (10-3):
It feels like a slap in the face that the 10-3 Cowboys are actually underdogs heading into this Week 15 matchup with the 7-6 Buffalo Bills. That however could be some added motivation for a Cowboys team that is playing really well right now. They may not be as good on the road as they are at home, but I’m still expecting them to relatively easily handle the Bills this week.
Cowboys win 34-23.
RJ Ochoa (11-2):
This is easily the game that I am most concerned about as it pertains to the rest of the season for the Cowboys and by far, relative to this year, the best quarterback who Dallas will have faced. People threw out last week’s game against Philly as a measuring stick of sorts for this team and while I understand that because of the narrative and division rivalry and implications that were on the line... given that this game is in Buffalo (so on the road where the Cowboys have not been quite as formidable) against a team that can go off in the middle of December makes it seem like the more appropriate “big test.”
The Cowboys have earned the benefit of the doubt from me, and I hope from you as well, so I trust that they will pass it. I’ll take them to win in a really close and potentially dramatic way... something along the lines of 33-27.
David Howman (9-4):
This one really comes down to the weather for me, which makes it hard to predict. The Cowboys crushed the Giants in a torrential downpour in the season opener, but that was also the Giants. Buffalo is a better team, and actually plays their games in New York, two very big differences.
I think the Bills are vulnerable enough on defense for Dak Prescott to have another good game, but if the Cowboys can’t force some stops against Josh Allen I don’t feel good about winning a shootout in a cold and rainy environment. So this really comes down to my level of confidence in the defense this week. I don’t feel warm and fuzzy about trusting this unit to stop Allen, but....
Cowboys win, 31-27.