Dallas limps into a Thursday night showdown with the Bears licking their wounds after their Thanksgiving beat down at the hands of the Buffalo Bills. Luckily, they received an early Christmas present as the Philadelphia Eagles were stunned by Fitzmagic and the Miami Dolphins. Barely clinching to their division lead at 6-6, you can feel the increasing tension throughout the Dallas Cowboys organization.
After their Thanksgiving loss, you could hear Michael Bennett and multiple players yelling from the locker-room. That frustration has apparently followed the team into this week’s practice. Ezekiel Elliott was quoted stating that the team is ‘angry’ at the lack of execution while things are also getting ‘chippy’ in practice. Look for Dallas to exert some of that anger and frustration as they take on the Bears in primetime on Thursday Night Football as we focus on the three keys to victory.
The Cowboys may boast the eighth-overall defense, but they are dead last in interceptions. Also, they sit in the middle-of-the-pack tied for 16th when it comes to sacking the quarterback. The defense isn’t 100% healthy, but they have enough talent to get to the quarterback consistently. By doing so this leads to hurried and misguided throws by the opposing quarterback.
This defense has a prime match-up this week as they face the 29th overall offense led by Mitch Trubisky. Chicago’s signal-caller has had a rough go this year as he has been sacked 26 times with seven interceptions. Coming off his best game, expect Trubisky’s confidence to be at a season-high as he faces this young Dallas defense. Look for Demarcus Lawrence and company to get back on track against a Bears’ offensive line that has struggled most of the year.
Stopping the Run
Dallas may have a top-ten defense, but you wouldn’t know it when looking at their run defense. The Cowboys fall all the way to 17th when zoning in on their ability to stop the run. When teams want to really focus in on a Cowboys’ weakness, they turn to the ground game. Rod Marinelli’s group, often led by Kris Richard, is giving up just under 107 rush yards per game. Dallas is often forced to abandon their run as they fall behind and try to force the ball downfield.
This defense must focus on pressuring the quarterback and stopping the run early and often. Chicago ranks 28th in rushing offense who only averages 79 yards on the ground each week. With the Bears defense likely to slow down this Cowboy’s high-powered offense, this defense must help by getting the Bears off the field and providing Dak and company with shorter fields. They will accomplish this goal if they can bottle up David Montgomery and Tarik Cohen.
Kellen Moore’s unit may sit atop the league in overall offense, yet they boast a record of 6-6. Although several factors play into this, Dallas has yet to find and establish its offensive identity. Dallas boasts a rare combination of having a top-tier pass and run game. The problem is they tend to shy away from their ground game too early and too often. Failing to adjust to in-game situations as they present themselves.
Zeke is averaging a healthy 4.4 yards-per-carry this season while receiving just under 19 carries each week. Prescott leads the league in passing, but Dallas has shown that they struggle to hold opposing teams out of the endzone and off the scoreboard.
In order to help the defense, Dallas must feed Ezekiel Elliott as the game dictates. Last week against the Bills, Zeke was averaging 5.9 yards a carry and only ran the ball 12 times while Prescott had an eye-popping 49 attempts.
If Dallas wishes to maintain its position atop of the NFC East, they must adapt to in-game situations. I see Kellen Moore doing a much better job this week, as coaching has been a big headline for Dallas in the media.
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