By Bailey Montgomery
Wow, I could not have been more wrong about last week’s prediction, which I had to live through in person at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. The offensive line got blown up by the Indianapolis defensive line all game long, and those Colts linebackers flew around and made tackles, and the offense had no answer. A quick first drive that led to a Brett Maher field goal attempt that was eventually blocked started the day off the wrong way for our Cowboys, and Indianapolis controlled the game from there. The defense could not seem to get Andrew Luck and that offense off of the field on third down when it mattered most, and the offense could not get anything going.
The great thing about this season is that it is a brand new week and another chance for this Cowboys team to clinch this division. After a 5 game winning streak, this team tasted some humble pie, and we can all only hope that this team is ready to answer the bell this Sunday with a test against Tampa Bay.
I think the key to this game is up front. This Tampa defense is one of the worst in the league, ranking third to last in points per game, allowing over 400 offensive points on the season. They have trouble stopping the run, averaging 4.8 yards per carry to opposing running backs.
The key to this game is getting Ezekiel Elliott involved early and often against this defense. This offensive line needs to have a bounce back game this Sunday. With a chance to clinch the NFC East, I expect this team to come out and answer the bell and punch this defense in the mouth, running the football down their throat. This offense needs to get back to the smash mouth, dirty football style that they got rolling with during the winning streak. I believe that the run game will open things up for Dak and these receivers, and hopefully this offense can gain some momentum with a win rolling right before Postseason play.
On the other side of the ball, this defense will face a tough task against an extremely high-powered Tampa offense. This Tampa Bay offense led by Jameis Winston and Mike Evans account for over 416 yards per game, 318.9 of which comes through the air. While Winston had issues turning the football over early in the season, he has taken better care of the ball as of late. He is coming off of back-to-back weeks with an interception, but turning the ball over is a result of pushing the ball down the field through the air as much as this offense likes to. On the receiving end, Mike Evans poses a threat for any secondary with his 6 foot 5 inch and 230 pound frame. The Winston and Evans combo is a threat to hit on a go route at any time, as the Cowboys will try to limit the big plays from this offense on Sunday.
The HotBoyz didn’t come to play last week, but I truly expect a different result this week. I think this team needed to get back to the “Backs against the wall” mentality, and I think they will do that this week.
Prediction: Dallas Cowboys 23, Tampa Bay Bucs 20
I think that this offense has a big day yardage wise, but struggle to get into the end zone. I think Zeke will have a big day against this defense, but will only find the end zone once in the contest. The red zone woes have been an issue all year, and unless adjustments are made, I don’t see that changing in this one. The Cowboys defense and three field goals from the foot of Brett Maher I believe will be the difference in this one, bringing the NFC East title back to Dallas Sunday afternoon in a close one.
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