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Cowboys vs Jets: Writer predictions for home opener

The Cowboys are heavy favorites after the Aaron Rodgers injury.

NFL: OCT 13 Cowboys at Jets Photo by Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

After notching a historic 40-0 win on the road over the Giants, the Cowboys return home to AT&T Stadium for their first game of the year in their own stadium. They’ll be going for the Full Sinatra - New York, New York - when the Jets come to town. Of course, the complexion of this matchup changed dramatically Monday night when Aaron Rodgers, acquired by the Jets in the offseason, tore his Achilles just four plays into his first game of the year.

The betting markets aren’t all that encouraged by backup Zach Wilson, who will get the start this week against a ferocious Dallas defense, but the Cowboys aren’t a picture of perfect health either. Tyler Smith missed last week’s game with a hamstring issue, and it sounds likely he’ll miss this game as well. Meanwhile, Brandin Cooks’ status for Sunday is up in the air after an MCL sprain earlier in the week. The Cowboys are still nine point favorites at DraftKings Sportsbook, the largest margin for any team this week, but do our writers feel as confident? Let’s get into it.

When New York has the ball

Get in Zach Wilson’s face

This is literally the exact same thing I wrote last week for the Giants, but with Zach Wilson’s name in place of Daniel Jones. That’s because Jones and Wilson have the same underlying flaws, which is that they tend to completely fall apart when they’re under pressure. Wilson, in particular, makes things even harder for himself by refusing to simply give up on the play. Against the Bills last week, he frequently scrambled out of the pocket and risked losing 10 or 15 yards in the process before throwing terrible passes downfield.

The Cowboys’ pass rush is significantly better than Buffalo’s, who have a really good pass rush in their own right. Wilson was pressured on nearly half of his dropbacks in that game, which actually paled in comparison to Jones being pressured on two thirds of his dropbacks. For his career, Wilson has been terrible under pressure, completing just 30% of his passes when under duress. If the Dallas defense can get in his face as often as they did to Jones, the Jets offense won’t be able to do much of anything.

When Dallas has the ball

Keep Dak Prescott clean

Speaking of pressure, Dak Prescott barely saw any in the season opener. A function of the West Coast principles that Mike McCarthy sprinkled into this offense is getting the ball out quickly to mitigate pressure, and that was true on Sunday night. Prescott’s 2.37 seconds per throw was the fastest time to throw in Week 1. As a result, Prescott was only pressured four times and didn’t get sacked once. No quarterback saw fewer pressures in Week 1.

It will be quite difficult to replicate that performance this week, though. The Jets defense excels at creating pressure without blitzing, thus allowing them to commit more defenders in coverage. This defense pressured Josh Allen 21 times last week, forcing him into three interceptions and a costly fumble. For all the talk in the offseason about Prescott’s interceptions, this will be a good first test for him in shaking that monkey from his back. But it starts with keeping Prescott clean from a pass rush that is about as close as it comes to rivaling the Cowboys.

Now onto the predictions from your BTB writers...

Tom Ryle (1-0):

I have to believe this is going to be a better test for the Cowboys than the laughably easy win over the Giants. While the Jets offense is still going to have major problems dealing with Dan Quinn’s defense, they are a much bigger challenge for Mike McCarthy and Dak Prescott to face.

I still think having to go with Zach Wilson is a big issue for them, and I am confident that the Cowboys will get to 2-0, just not with another 40 burger. Although I expect the Jets to put up a good fight, I still look for a comfortable margin of victory.

Cowboys win, 34-20.

Tony Catalina (1-0):

This game lost some of its star power with the injury of Aaron Rodgers, but there is still plenty for the Cowboys to worry about this week. The Jets defense may be the best group they face all season and the rushing attack duo of Dalvin Cook and Breece Hall makes the run defense the key on Sunday. Ultimately the Cowboys are the better, healthier team, and I think it will show up that way when it’s all said and done. It won’t go smoothly but the Cowboys get to 2-0.

Cowboys win, 20-13.

Matt Holleran (1-0):

The Cowboys face off against a New York team for the second consecutive week. This game will be much more competitive than last week’s matchup against the Giants, and Dallas’ offense will need to bring their A-Game going up against a talented Jets’ defense. I see this game being a low-scoring affair that is settled on the last possession.

Dallas struggles to move the ball all game, but Dak and the Cowboys’ offense put together their best drive when it matters most. In recent memory, the Cowboys and Week 2 always seem to come down to last-second field goals, and this game follows suit.

Dallas wins as the clock strikes zeros, 17-14.

Brandon Loree (1-0):

With Aaron Rodgers out of the mix, the Cowboys matchup with the Jets looks less daunting. The Jets still possess one of the best defenses in the NFL, forcing four turnovers and recording five sacks against the Buffalo Bills in their matchup on Monday night. Even though this game will be challenging for the Cowboys offense to move the ball, I think their defense will force a few takeaways that gives Dallas favorable field position to score points.

Give me the Cowboys 24-16.

Matthew Lenix (1-0):

The Cowboys’ defense gets a break having to face Zach Wilson instead of Aaron Rodgers. However, the Jets do have capable offensive weapons, especially wide receiver Garrett Wilson, and one of the NFL’s top defensive units. I feel the Cowboys’ offense, despite the huge challenge, will look a lot better than it did against the Giants, and the pressure from their front seven of Dallas will be too much for New York.

Cowboys win 27-14.

Mike Poland (1-0):

The Cowboys have averaged 18 interceptions in their last 18 games. Simple math tells us that’s an average of one per game. In that same time the New York Jets are 1-7 when they throw one interception or more in a game.

This Jets team is a team built to hold a lead rather than try and come back or deal with controversy during a game. With Zach Wilson under center things will go back to last year’s struggles, and he struggles against pressure. Thankfully, this Cowboys defense is elite when it comes to creating pressure.

Cowboys win in their first home game of the year 34-17.

Brian Martin (1-0):

Give me the Dallas Cowboys by at least two touchdowns in this Week 2 matchup with the New York Jets. I just can’t see the Jets being able to put enough points on the board now having to play with their backup QB Zach Wilson behind a banged up offensive line. Micah Parsons and Company should dominate once again by harassing the QB and creating turnovers like they did last week against the other team from New York.

Cowboys 27, Jets 13.

RJ Ochoa (1-0):

This has been quite the week with the Cowboys dominating the Giants and then our expectations for the Jets game changing so radically. I say that to say, it must have been an even more ‘quite the week’ for the Jets themselves. While this is the NFL and anything can happen the reality here is that Dallas should win comfortably.

I’ll take the Cowboys getting to 2-0 with a 27-16 win.

David Howman (1-0):

This Jets defense means business, and will be a much better test of Mike McCarthy the play-caller and Dak Prescott in this Texas Coast offense. The pass rush is no joke, and I don’t like the idea of facing it without Tyler Smith. That said, they have some weak spots to exploit, and I’ll be looking to see if McCarthy can do just that.

I’m a lot less worried about the defensive side of things, as Micah Parsons and company should have another big day against a spotty offensive line and a quarterback who never makes it easier for the guys blocking up front. My guess is the Cowboys roll with a ton of 12 personnel this game with only a handful of deep shots schemed up to keep the defense honest. That’ll mean a low-scoring game, but hopefully still an efficient performance that results in a win.

Cowboys win, 17-6.

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