The Dallas Cowboys may be in first place in the NFC East, but it’s no time to relax in Big D.
The Cowboys will face the Buffalo Bills on Thanksgiving Day in a game that they really need to win to avoid dropping into a likely tie with the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC East (you can’t really count on the Eagles losing to the Miami Dolphins on Sunday regardless of how poorly they have been playing).
Not only that, but Jerry Jones blasted Jason Garrett and the coaching staff after Dallas’ loss to the New England Patriots, so the time is now for the Cowboys to respond with a victory.
Here are three predictions for Dallas in its Week 13 tilt.
3. The defense will hold the Bills under 20 points
The Cowboys have the sixth-ranked defense in the NFL. The Bills have the 18th-ranked offense.
You do the math.
Buffalo is 8-3, so it is a team that should be respected, but there is also no doubt that the Bills are not exactly a great offensive ballclub, as Josh Allen remains a bit inconsistent under center.
To be fair, Buffalo does have a really good run game between Frank Gore, Devin Singletary and Allen, but something tells me that Dallas—which has actually only been mediocre against the run this season—will be up to the task in what is essentially a must-win game.
Look for the Cowboys to hold the Bills under 20 points.
2. Amari Cooper will be targeted early and often
This past Sunday, Amari Cooper was targeted just twice and did not log a single catch. I can pretty much guarantee you that won’t happen again.
First of all, he won’t be going up against All-Pro cornerback Stephon Gilmore this time, and second, Cooper is too good of a wide receiver to be blanked in consecutive weeks.
The Cowboys will likely try to get Cooper involved early on in the contest to establish his presence in the aerial attack and open up the offense, something that will be crucial to victory.
It should be noted that Buffalo has the league’s third-ranked pass defense, but it does not have Gilmore.
1. Ezekiel Elliott will rush for 100 yards
Ezekiel Elliott has largely been held in check over the last three weeks, logging rushing totals of 47, 45 and 86 yards, respectively. In the former two weeks, he averaged under three yards per carry.
Elliott has not racked up 100 yards since Week 9, and with Dallas badly needing a win and understanding that Zeke is the most important piece of its offense, Garrett will likely feed the ball to his star running back quite a bit.
While the Bills excel in defending the pass, they aren’t fantastic against the run, as they ranked 14th in the NFL and are allowing 104.4 rushing yards per game on 4.4 yards per attempt.
Taking all of those factors into consideration, it would not be the least bit surprising if Elliott had a big day on Thanksgiving. Not only would it not be surprising, but I am expecting it.