Cowboys Hopeful for the Future–Haunted by the Past: Week 11 at Atlanta

–Nathan Jones–

A strong win against a division rival always hypes up fans and the team– sometimes too much. The Dallas Cowboys must forget about what happened last Sunday and begin focusing on the Atlanta Falcons.

For those who are not currently suffering from PTSD and having nightmares from last years’ Atlanta game, Dak was sacked a whopping eight times in week 10 of the 2017-18 season.

The game against Atlanta  was the turning point for Dak Prescott. He has not been the same since the night he had his face-mask in the dirt the whole game. However, left tackle, Tyron Smith, is ready to play this time and Adrian Clayborn, who recorded six of the sacks, is no longer on the team. However, the memory is still there.

Atlanta, sitting at 4-5, perhaps has less hope to make the playoffs than the Cowboys because they are in the same division as the Saints and the Panthers. Just like recent years, they have a strong offense with even more weapons. Everyone knows about Julio Jones and the challenge he presents every defense. But, rookie Calvin Ridley is off to fantastic career. Calvin Ridley, out of Alabama, has caught 36 passes for 500 yards and seven touchdowns. Matt Ryan has tons of tools at his disposal. At tight end, Austin Hooper has 418 yards so far in the season, and after racking up around 50 yards and a touchdown against the Cowboys in 2017, and watching Zach Ertz torch the Cowboys, Hooper is poised to have a great matchup.

The Dallas Cowboys’ defense is strong in all areas, but the one way to attack them is with tight ends. Jeff Heath and Xavier Woods have not done a great job in their tight end battles.

Pressuring Matt Ryan will be key to the game. If Ryan is allowed to sit comfortably in the pocket, he will make the defense pay.

The question arises: should Byron Jones travel with Julio Jones?

I say no. Against elite receiver, DeAndre Hopkins, the Cowboys chose not to travel Byron. And the Falcons have a much more well rounded receiving core than the Texans. If Byron were to travel with Julio, he would be forced to play in the slot or the left side– positions that he has experienced in playing.

On offense, the Cowboys must score early and get the run game going. Atlanta is 19th in the league in rushing defense, giving up 120 yards per game. They are not a very strong passing defense either. The rank only 27th in passing yards allowed, with 294 yards through the air.

The freshly juiced-up receiving core for the Cowboys will likely get many one on one opportunities. Amari Cooper has been “just what the doctor ordered” in his first two games as a Cowboy. Last week, Amari won on almost every route, and Dak must have been killing himself all week for not capitalizing.

If given enough time in the pocket, expect Dak to go Cooper’s way often.

This game boils down to one thing: Can we score first and get a few interceptions on defense. The Falcons will score points, but if they are playing from behind, then the pass rush will get chances to rush. And as for the offense, as long as Zeke is given his touches, they will be fine.

 

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