The Dallas Cowboys have a difficult task ahead of them when they play the Saints on Thursday Night Football. Led by a MVP candidate in Drew Brees, the Saints offense is the most dangerous in the league. Both teams will enter Thursday riding win-streaks, the Cowboys’ 3 game win streak and the Saints’ 10 game win streak. One is slightly more impressive than the other, but still, both squads have momentum.
It seems like the Saints have no weakness. Their double-headed monster of a backfield with Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram II is top tier in the NFL, the receiving corps is stacked, led by 1000 yard receiver Michael Thomas, and the defense has surprised many people so far this season. New Orleans is no doubt the team to beat in the NFL. They are favored to win the NFC, and are on track to storm through the playoffs and content for the Super Bowl. Unfortunately for New Orleans, they have been in an almost identical situation before.
In 2009, the 13-0 Saints met the 8-5 Cowboys in New Orleans for Saturday Night Football during Week 15 of the season. Romo vs. Brees. Dallas really dominated throughout the game, which ended with a strip sack by Demarcus Ware to seal the 24-17 victory. Thursday night will look a little bit different. It will be Prescott vs. Brees, but the game will really be up to the Cowboys defense and slowing down the Saints unstoppable offense.
The formula to winning this football game will be similar to what we have seen for the past three weeks. Feed Zeke, and dominate defensively. The defense will have to bring it. Dallas has 5 takeaways during their win streak, and it will be absolutely necessary to force more. Another key will be to control the ground game, on both sides of the football. Dallas’ defense will need to stop the Saints run game, and Ezekiel Elliott will need to continue his outstanding stretch of football.
Elliott has taken over in the last three games. His impact on the team’s success and the offense’s success has been undeniable, but one who has arguably had a bigger impact is wide receiver, Amari Cooper. Cooper’s slow start to the season in Oakland has been mended since the trade that sent him to Dallas, Texas. Not only have HIS number’s rocketed, but Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott are better players because of him.
“America’s Team” has all the pieces. Zeke leads the league in rushing. Amari Cooper and Cole Beasley have progressed the receiving corps dramatically. Dak Prescott continues to get better. For the first time all year, the pressure is not going to be on the offense. Instead the focus question will be, can the Cowboys’ defense somehow slow down the menacing Saints offense.
The outcome of this game will be huge for the NFC’s playoff picture. If New Orleans can get the win, they will retain the No. 1 bye seed, while the Rams and the Bears fight to catch them. The Cowboys will fall to 6-6, which could be a 3 way tie in the NFC East between them, the Redskins and the Eagles. While the Cowboys will still be in good position to win the division, it will be easier to do with a win on Thursday. If Dallas can win, they will be 7-5 with both the Eagles and the Redskins down on them.
If the Saints lose another game this season, it will likely be to the Dallas Cowboys. New Orleans is due for a loss and the Cowboys are arguably the toughest team they have left. The ‘Boys are hot. Zeke is hot. Elliott will need to bust open the NFL’s No. 1 run defense, likely sending him into the MVP conversation. Dak Prescott is playing his best football since his 13-3 rookie campaign in 2016. The table is set for the Cowboys.