After losing their regular-season opener to the Los Angeles Rams on “Sunday Night Football,” the Dallas Cowboys return home to play the 0-1 Atlanta Falcons. The Cowboys are four-point favorites against Atlanta with the over/under set at 54, the highest implied total on the Week 2 slate.
How will the Cowboys fare in their home opener at AT&T Stadium? Here are three bold predictions for Sunday’s NFC matchup.
1. CeeDee Lamb scores first TD, reaches 80+ receiving yards
In his NFL debut, CeeDee Lamb registered five receptions for 59 yards. He led all rookie wideouts in catches and receiving yards in Week 1. Lamb will produce even better results score versus the defensively challenged Falcons.
— John Owning (@JohnOwning) September 15, 2020
The season-ending torn ACL injury to tight end Blake Jarwin should open up more looks in the passing game for Lamb. After playing 83 percent of the snaps last contest, he could see a slight bump in his snap rate. Lamb faces off against a Falcons’ defense that surrendered 324 passing yards and four touchdowns to Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson last Sunday. Cowboys signal-caller Dak Prescott has a chance to produce similar numbers, after being held in check (266 yards, 1 TD) against Los Angeles.
Atlanta’s biggest team weakness lies in its secondary, which is music to the ears of Cowboys’ receivers. In what will be a high-scoring affair, Lamb will snag his first career NFL touchdown and reach the 80-yard receiving plateau.
2. Ezekiel Elliott rushes for 115+ yards, adds TD reception
Ezekiel Elliott had the best game among Cowboys skill position players in Week 1. He rushed 22 times for 96 yards with a score. He also caught three balls for 31 yards and a receiving touchdown.
Ezekiel Elliott is so special. What a first touchdown of the season.
— RJ Ochoa (@rjochoa) September 14, 2020
The Cowboys will feed Elliott all afternoon against the Falcons. When these clubs last met in 2018, Elliott accumulated 201 scrimmage yards—122 rushing and 79 receiving—in a Cowboys’ win.
The Falcons yielded two receiving touchdowns to Seattle’s halfback Chris Carson. While Carson is a talented tailback, he is not usually a major factor in the passing game. In fact, he entered Week 1’s contest with just three receiving touchdowns in his entire career. If the Falcons had trouble defending Carson as a pass-catching back, they will likely struggle to contain Elliott. Elliott will score a TD as a pass-catcher for the second time in as many weeks.
In addition to logging a touchdown through the air, Elliott will carve up the Falcons on the ground. He should receive no fewer than 25 carries and will rush for over 115 yards.
3. Cowboys cover the spread, win by at least 7 points
The Falcons, who are four-point underdogs, have one of the league’s most potent offenses. They had three receivers surpass the 100-yard mark in Week 1. Julio Jones logged a game-high 154 yards, Calvin Ridley posted 130 and Russell Gage registered 114, with each wideout catching nine passes. This will be a shootout for sure, but the Cowboys have fewer holes in their roster.
Prescott can expose the weak links in Atlanta’s secondary. Rookie cornerback A.J. Terrell and third-year corner Isaiah Oliver struggled mightily against Seattle’s wideouts.
Dude, Isaiah Oliver never stood a chance, DK Metcalf playing bully ball at the LOS. pic.twitter.com/ZGgMFJkMln
— Austin Gayle (@PFF_AustinGayle) September 13, 2020
Those issues should resurface against Dallas, which has arguably the best receiving trio in football with Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup and Lamb.
Look for the Cowboys to win by at least one touchdown in their first home contest of the 2020 season.