The Dallas Cowboys lost to the New England Patriots and now take on the Buffalo Bills. With every game of the season there will be things to watch and pay attention to. Here are five things to watch for in week 13.
1. Can the Cowboys Beat an Above Average Team?
The Cowboys have been able to win games that they are favored in for the most part, but have struggled against teams that look like playoff contenders. Dallas has lost to New Orleans, Green Bay, Minnesota and New England to go along with a head-scratching loss to the Jets. The best team the Cowboys have beaten is the 5-6 Eagles. For them to have a successful season, they’ll have to start winning those types of games.
This week, the Cowboys will get another chance at a competitive team in the Buffalo Bills. They come into the game with an 8-3 record and will be looking to continue leading the AFC Wild Card race. With a tough defense and a quarterback that can make plays, this would be a huge win for Dallas, especially because they have a tough schedule the rest of the way.
2. Will Dak Continue to Let it Fly?
It is a pretty surprising stat, but the Cowboys continue to lead the NFL in passing yards per game at 303.5. They were unable to get the passing game going against the Patriots due to the inclement weather, but still played them close. Dallas needs to continue to embrace throwing the ball, as they have weapons and it will set up the running game.
Buffalo has one of the best pass defenses in the NFL, as they allow 204 yards passing per game. Their run defense is also great, so Dallas will have to focus on throwing the ball, because that is what the Cowboys are doing well right now. As always, the question now lies in the coaching staff and whether they will call plays that allow Prescott to throw the ball around the field.
3. Amari Cooper vs. Tre White
Last week, Amari Cooper was completely shut down against the Patriots. He had no catches after failing to haul in a pass on a fourth down late in the fourth quarter. Stephon Gilmore had a great game following Cooper and it showed. For this team to reach their potential, Cooper needs to step it up big time.
Unfortunately for Cooper, things won’t get easier this week. Buffalo has a great secondary that features one of the best corners in the game in Tre White. White doesn’t often allow catches and will be a tough matchup for Cooper. Cooper has done well against good corners before and needs to have a big day on Thanksgiving for the Cowboys.
4. Can they Force Turnovers?
Fox showed a stat during last week’s broadcast displaying Dallas’ correlation from their inability to force turnovers and losses. That has been a problem all season for the team. The defense has played well at points, but for them really to be successful, they’ll need to start getting the ball back to the offense.
There should be some opportunity to force turnovers in this game. While they do have the veteran Frank Gore at running back, they also have a rookie in Devin Singletary who could cough the ball up. The young Josh Allen has already thrown eight interceptions on the year as well. Dallas needs to take advantage and force those turnovers.
5. Will the Special Teams Play Improve?
The special teams were not great at New England. Brett Maher missed a field goal, a punt was blocked and Tony Pollard fumbled a punt that he recovered. That doesn’t even cover all of the miscues. Jerry Jones said after the game that poor special teams’ play is a reflection of coaching.
Now, the coaches need to fix the problem. Most of these mistakes are correctable, meaning that this week, special teams should be a lot better. In the end, special teams might make the entire difference in this game, as it could be a low-scoring affair.