Big Picture: 5 Storylines for Colts & Cowboys

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Just six games remain for the Cowboys before the playoffs begin, and with their toughest portion of their schedule mostly behind them they might be rounding into shape at the perfect time. After a big win over the Giants on Thanksgiving where Micah Parsons racked up two sacks and Dalton Schultz tallied two touchdowns, all phases of the ball are clicking.

Now the embattled Colts are set to come to Dallas this Sunday after their loss on Monday Night Football to the Steelers. Despite an up and down season to this point, the Colts still possess plenty of impact players like Jonathan Taylor and DeForest Buckner.

It's Week 13, so you know where this is headed. Here are five storylines for the Colts and Cowboys before they link up in primetime for Sunday Night Football.

Colts:

  • Let's start with the Colts and their Monday night loss to the Steelers, Matt Ryan passed for 199 yards and a touchdown while also throwing an interception. Jonathan Taylor ran for 86 yards and a score, Michael Pittman picked up a touchdown on 61 receiving yards, while rookie tight end Jalani Woods had his best game of the season with eight catches for 98 yards. On defense, Yannick Ngakoue had two sacks.
  • We mentioned it's been an up and down season thus far for the Colts, and it starts at the head coaching spot. After letting go of Frank Reich earlier in November, the Colts turned to former franchise stalwart center Jeff Saturday to assume head coaching duties without any prior coaching experience in the NFL. If you go back further than that, Ryan was benched for two games before returning to the starting role. Since Saturday took over, the Colts have gone 1-2 during that stretch.
  • The injury bug struck the Colts early in the season like it can to any team, but it's thwarting of key players is what is notable. Linebacker Shaquille Leonard has essentially missed the entire season after recovering from offseason back surgery. After returning in Week 4, the three-time All-Pro and Pro Bowler sustained a setback in that back injury and was placed on injured reserve. Taylor has not been able to replicate his dominant 2021 season either, missing three games with an ankle injury, but still has almost 800 yards rushing and four touchdowns.
  • Though Leonard has missed time this season, the Colts still have plenty of firepower defensive. Ngakoue and Buckner have combined for 14 sacks this season, while the secondary led by safety Kenny Moore and veteran corner Stephon Gilmore have helped lead a defense that ranks in the top five of passing yards allowed per game this season. Oh, and the Colts lead the league in total tackles this year with 501.
  • Finally, after spending 14 years of his career with the Falcons, Matt Ryan will face off against one of his former coaches in Cowboys' defensive coordinator Dan Quinn. The two spent six seasons together, including the 2016 season when Ryan won the MVP and reached the Super Bowl.

Cowboys:

  • Ah the Odell Beckham Jr. sweepstakes have yet to come to a conclusion. As he does every Tuesday, owner/general manager Jerry Jones told 105.3 The Fan that Beckham's recent reported incident where he was removed from a flight has no impact on the team's pursuit of him. Beckham will meet with the Cowboys at The Star in Frisco on Dec. 5, while Jones said "We think he'd fit in really good with us."
  • On the injury front, Jones also said that receiver James Washington could be rejoining the Cowboys soon after spending the entire season on the IR after sustaining a broken foot during training camp. As for safety Jayron Kearse, head coach Mike McCarthy said Monday that he is dealing with a shoulder injury that will limit him practice, but could still play against the Colts on Sunday.
  • The Cowboys led the NFL with 45 sacks through 11 games, with Micah Parsons leading the team with 12 followed by Dorance Armstrong with eight. The notable portion of that stat? The Colts have allowed the most sacks this season with 43 while Ryan in particular has been sacked 32 times, fifth most in the league.
  • Don't look now but the Cowboys' offense has really caught fire in the five games since Dak Prescott has returned. CeeDee Lamb has posted two 100-yard receiving games during that span while picking up three touchdowns, while Michael Gallup has started to look like himself after returning from his ACL surgery. Ezekiel Elliott has totaled five touchdowns since Prescott's return despite missing two games, while Tony Pollard has six total scores.
  • Lastly, the Cowboys have won three of their last four matchups against the Colts dating back to the 2006 season. The two last met up in Indianapolis in 2018 when the Cowboys were shut out 23-0 while Marlon Mack ran for 139 yards and two touchdowns. For the Colts though, they have not beaten the Cowboys on the road since way back in 1996.

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