The Dallas Cowboys welcome a somewhat unfamiliar opponent to AT&T Stadium this Sunday. In the Cowboys history in the NFL, dating all the way back to 1960, they have only played the Jets 12 times. Dallas leads the all-time series seven wins to five. But, Dallas is on a losing streak to Gang Green. They have dropped their last three games to the Jets, the last one being a 24-22 loss on October 19th of 2019. That game was in New York, the last meeting in Dallas was December 19th, 2015, a game the Jets won 19-16.
Of course, given how fast the NFL moves with roster turnover, coaching changes, etc., that game in 2019 is ancient history. This game was supposed to feature Cowboys nemesis Aaron Rodgers, but as we all know he is out for the season and Zach Wilson steps back into his role as Jets quarterback. That change at quarterback greatly shifted the line on this upcoming game. Originally Dallas were 3-point favorites, but once Rodgers went down, that number ballooned to the current 9.5 points according to DraftKing Sportsbook.
Last week, Wilson rode the defense, and their four turnovers created against Josh Allen, to a thrilling overtime win against the Bills. Still, the Jets had plenty of trouble protecting their quarterbacks in that game, with an offensive line that was very leaky. That’s not a good problem to have this week as the Cowboys lead the NFL so far in 2023 with seven sacks. Sure, it is just one week, but this is a continuation of what the Cowboys pass rush has been doing the last few years. They ranked third in sacks for 2022. And it wasn’t just sacks in Week 1, they pressured Daniel Jones and the Giants on 62.2% of dropbacks (23 of 37). That is an incredible number.
One guy who wasn’t talked about much but has already had a great start is pass rusher Dorance Armstrong, He had two sacks against the Giants, but he also had the fourth-highest pass rush win rate (40%) in the entire league last week.
We know that the Cowboys defense will be able to get after the quarterback, but the Cowboys offense will be facing a tough Jets defense. The Dallas offense wasn’t exactly explosive last week, but they did account for 27 of the 40 points the Cowboys put up. That’s a decent number. And the overall 40 points was the highest in the league last week. It was also the 12th time the team scored 40 points under Mike McCarthy (2020). That leads the league, with Tampa Bay, Kansas City and Buffalo all tied for second with seven 40-point games in that same time span.
And with the Cowboys at home, expect the offense to perform. Ever since Dak Prescott became the quarterback in 2016, Dallas has scored 196 touchdowns at AT&T Stadium, and averaged 29.2 points there. That’s the most touchdowns and points-per-game in the NFL, at home, during that time span. It’s rare that the Cowboys offense doesn’t put points on the board at home, so the Jets defense will have its hands full.
Both of the Cowboys big additions this offseason, Brandin Cooks and Stephon Gilmore, have had success in the past against the Jets. We don’t know if Cooks will play, but his previous efforts against the Jets total three games, with 14 catches for 217 yards and two touchdowns. Meanwhile Gilmore has played the Jets 12 times while with New England and Buffalo. His team record is 10-2, and he has 33 tackles, 11 PBUs, three interceptions and a forced fumble.
Both the Cowboys and the Jets enter the game 1-0. But the odds are favoring Dallas to be the undefeated team when the game is over. Both teams sport excellent defenses, but the Jets have a weaker offensive line and quarterback. With the way the Cowboys defense is playing, Zach Wilson would have to have the game of his life to pull this one out. The Cowboys need to be vigilant, but if they can avoid catastrophic turnovers, they should have a comfortable win.