The Cowboys are fresh off their first loss of the year, one that earned them plenty of scorn from around the league. The question now is how they’ll respond with Bill Belichick and the Patriots coming to AT&T Stadium. Over the years, Mike McCarthy’s Cowboys have developed a reputation for responding well to disappointing losses, and they’ve only had consecutive losses one time in the last two seasons.
On one hand, it’s at least mildly concerning that McCarthy’s teams have endured these kinds of losses in the first place. On the other hand, though, they’ve usually come out swinging the very next week. Let’s take a quick look:
- Week 10, 2021: after getting punched in the mouth by the Broncos a week earlier, the Cowboys dominated the Falcons 43-3
- Week 18, 2021: after losing to the Cardinals, who had been billed as the Cowboys’ last chance that year to prove they can beat good teams, they throttled the Eagles 51-26 to close out the regular season
- Week 7, 2022: the Cooper Rush Magic finally came to an end against the Eagles, but Dak Prescott’s return against the Lions resulted in a thorough domination to the tune of 24-6
- Week 11, 2022: the Cowboys blew a 14-point lead in Lambeau and cost their coach a chance at revenge over the team and quarterback that fired him. In response, they bludgeoned an 8-1 Vikings team 40-3
This seems to bode well for the Cowboys this week, but the opponent won’t be as easy as some of the ones listed above. The Patriots may have just picked up their first win of the year, but this is a good team. They were a pick-six away from beating the Eagles in Week 1 and took the Dolphins down to the wire in Week 2 while limiting Tyreek Hill to just five catches for 40 yards.
The big story for the Patriots coming into this season is their new offense. After letting longtime defensive coach Matt Patricia call the plays on offense a year ago, to predictably disastrous results, Belichick moved on from Patricia and welcomed back former offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien, who had just wrapped up his second season in the same position at Alabama. O’Brien is now running a more cohesive offense for former Crimson Tide quarterback Mac Jones, though things are still coming together after adding several new pieces around Jones.
The defense remains a calling card for the Patriots, who rank 11th in both defensive DVOA and EPA/play allowed. Defensive tackle Christian Barmore is eighth among interior defenders in pressures, while edge rushers Matt Judon and Josh Uche are tied for 10th in pressures among their position group. Rookie cornerback Christian Gonzalez has been one of the better coverage defenders in the NFL so far as well, making it difficult for quarterbacks to throw his way.
The last time the Cowboys met the Patriots, the game was up in Foxborough in Week 5 of the 2021 season. Dallas entered at 4-1 while the Patriots were 2-3, victims of an especially hard schedule to begin the year. Nevertheless, it made for one of the more entertaining games of the year, as the Cowboys won in overtime on a walk-off touchdown from CeeDee Lamb.
Once again the two meet, though the Cowboys are now licking their wounds after losing to Arizona while New England is looking to get back to .500 and right the ship. The Cowboys are hoping to get their three starting offensive linemen - Tyron Smith, Tyler Biadasz, and Zack Martin - back after all of them missed last week’s game. Meanwhile, the Patriots have been missing several starters on the offensive line all season thus far. The trench play for both teams could become a focal point of this matchup.
Oddsmakers still really like the Cowboys despite their stunning loss to the Cardinals. Dallas is currently favored by a touchdown in this one without any clarity on the health of the offensive line. The Cowboys surely want to cover that comfortably as they look to bounce back with a vengeance, but Belichick’s teams rarely get blown out. This one has the early makings of a very competitive game.