Dallas Cowboys versus New England Patriots
Let’s get this out of the way so we never have to think about this again. We’re cheering for Ezekiel Elliott. Yes, you read that correctly. We want the Patriots’ new but aging and worn-down running back to gash his former team.
The Cowboys are coming off the heels of a truly humiliating loss. The Patriots enter this one following a disturbing and downright disgusting win versus the New York Jets.
Both teams really want to get back on track but to varying degrees. The Cowboys want to get back to flexing on bad teams while the Patriots want to see how its defense plays versus an offense that's better than the one they just faced. The Jets can at times look like they're pulling teeth to gain yards.
Patriots Offense versus Cowboys Defense
Last year, the Eagles came up with the blueprint to stop edge rusher Micah Parsons, one few paid attention to. The plan was to run the ball directly into his facemask and make him the nail rather than the hammer.
Last week, the Cardinals did the exact same thing and it worked. One has to believe the coaches on Bill Belichick's staff are smart enough to follow that same game plan.
The Patriots want, more than anything, to be an offense that can run the ball. They certainly have the talent to do so with their offensive line and running back duo.
As foolish as it sounds, they have to follow the Cardinals' lead and make sure they break the will of the Cowboys’ defensive line early in the game. If they do that, they'll see sustained success in both the rushing and passing game. That’s something that’s much easier to say than to do.
What comes after that? The truth will be exposed. The Cowboys defense isn’t so scary.
With cornerback Trevon Diggs out, we saw that Stephon Gilmore could struggle if asked to play the CB1 role. Thanks to the domino effect, slot cornerback DaRon Bland had to move outside to compensate for Diggs’ loss. When you juggle pieces like that, the holes become obvious.
The Cowboys should be susceptible to the Pats' passing attack. That will only happen, however, if New England can make the defensive line and defensive coordinator Dan Quinn respect their running game.
Will they be able to do that? Hopefully, but probably not. After all, quarterback Mac Jones is the guy who starts every Pats offensive play with the ball in his hands, and he’s, for lack of a kinder/better word... bad.