It’s been a while since my last article (#StudentLife am I right?), so I figure I would do a quick preview of the New England Patriots taking on the Dallas Cowboys.
The Patriots offensive woes have been well documented, but there is a good reason for optimism – if you needed any – in New England (more on that in a minute). The Patriots are 9-1 and the Cowboys are 6-4. Both have championship rosters, with the Patriots’ defence carrying the load, and the Cowboys’ offence doing much of the heavy lifting so far.
I see this as a get “right game” for New England, much to the dismay of Cowboys fans. I don’t think that this game will be very competitive (that’s not my bias coming through, is it?), and I will lay forth why I believe this.
Isaiah Wynn Is Set to Return
Yay! PatsNation can rejoice knowing that arguably the worst offensive tackle in the NFL, Marshall Newhouse, will no longer be blocking Tom Brady’s blindside. Isaiah Wynn is expected to be activated off IR this week.
Wynn, who only has two career starts, was a stud in his first game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. He was up against one of the toughest defensive fronts in the league and gave up just one QB hit in 45 pass-blocking snaps, according to PFF.
Marshall Newhouse has done his fair share, and it hasn’t been very good.
#Patriots LT Marshall Newhouse has already allowed six sacks, per PFF (he didn’t play Wk 1).
Only once in the previous five full seasons has a NE lineman allowed more (2015 Vollmer: 7).
— Pat Thorman (@Pat_Thorman) November 6, 2019
Pat Thorman’s tweet doesn’t include the Week 11 game that just transpired against the Eagles, where Newhouse was once again inept. This is not what Tom Brady and the Patriots have come to expect from their O-line. Part of the offensive woes this year have been because of a lot of pressure being in Brady’s face when he’s making his reads which ultimately result in poor throws or throwaways.
While Wynn is still rather unproven, his athleticism is heaps and bounds better than Newhouse’s at this stage. This will certainly improve the offence in all facets.
That Defence Though
The Patriots defence is ranked 1st in yards allowed this season which is a welcomed sight, considering under Matt Patricia they adopted a “bend don’t break” philosophy. The vaunted secondary doesn’t give up big plays through the air – which is what the Cowboys have been trying to do more of as of late.
Meanwhile, the Patriots’ run defence made a nice comeback against the Eagles’ rushing attack, holding them to only 81 yards rushing, and just 255 yards of total offence. It was good to see them adjust after having Lamar Jackson and Co. dice them up for 210 yards on the ground.
It’s an obvious challenge for the Patriots to limit Ezekiel Elliot and the run game, but the Patriots are trending in the right direction after last week. What will help is their ability to leave their corners in 1-on-1 matchups on the outside, freeing up defenders to stack the box against Zeke.
After that, it comes down to the best shutdown defender in Stephon Gilmore to cover Amari Cooper. While that’s no easy task, Gilmore has proven to be able to hang with the best of the best time and again throughout his time with New England.
This secondary is too good for Dak and the Cowboys. In fact, Dak gets his own segment…
Dak Prescott is Overrated
Quiet down Cowboys fans, hear me out. Your quarterback is just not good against good competition. I know some of you say he’s elite, or MVP-worthy, but he’s just good at beating down bad teams – which isn’t a knock on him!
If a QB is to be elite or MVP-worthy, that QB needs to be able to play well against good teams. Dak simply hasn’t this year. In the beatdown of the Eagles, it was not because of Dak that they got up 14-0 early, it was because of their defence, and then Dak did enough to maintain the lead the rest of the way.
Dak struggles mightily against good teams. This is my problem with the pro-Dak elitists. Winning against a Matt Stafford-less Detroit Lions, the tanking Dolphins, Redskins, and Giants is fun and all, but don’t be fooled by those wins.
Against teams with winning records, the Vikings, Saints, and Packers (all of whom the Cowboys lost to), Dak Prescott has a passer rating of 86.1 – pretty average (here’s a link for those wondering what passer rating is). His stats in the Packers game were even somewhat inflated from the fact they were losing 31-3 before Dallas was able to move the ball.
Now, take an inarguably elite QB, Russell Wilson, who has a passer rating of 101.6 against teams with a winning record. We could also take another elite QB, Patrick Mahomes, who has a passer rating of 112.9 against teams with a winning record.
The aforementioned elite QBs have much higher passer ratings. Dak can be above average at times, but he is not as good as Dallas fans want to think.
Let’s save the term “elite” for the truly elite players, shall we?
Bill Belichick vs Jason Garrett
That is all.
Dallas is going to come into Foxborough with hopes and dreams of competing with the best of the best. Unfortunately for them, the Patriots are going to show them the time is not now as they unleash a revitalized offensive attack that sees Brady pick apart the Cowboys defence behind a fortified offensive line.
Dak Prescott will have NFL fans everywhere questioning if Gillette Stadium does have ghosts as he has his worst game of the year.
These are not hot takes, people; it’s simply the truth.
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