Big Picture: 5 Storylines for Cowboys & Jaguars

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As the Cowboys continue their tour of the AFC South after hosting both the Colts and Texans, they will now turn their attention to their third consecutive contest against an opponent of the division on the road against the Jaguars.

Jacksonville comes in at 5-8 and with some momentum following their 36-22 smacking of the Titans. Trevor Lawrence perhaps had the best game of his young and promising career, passing for over 350 yards and three touchdowns while running for another. Former Giants' tight end Evan Engram was sensational as well with 11 catches for over 150 yards and two scores. Toss in the four force turnovers and for sacks, and the Jags' defense had a day as well.

It's Week 15 in the Sunshine State for the Cowboys, by now you should know what we're doing here. These are the five storylines for both teams ahead of their meeting in this week's Big Picture.

Cowboys:

  • While yes the Cowboys got the win on Sunday, it did cost them both right tackle Terence Steele for the season with an ACL tear and defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins for the remainder of the regular season with a strained shoulder/pec. In other injury news, defensive end Dorance Armstrong suffered an ankle injury on the last play of the game against the Texans, putting him in a walking boot. Head coach Mike McCarthy said Monday there's a chance he plays this Sunday, while also saying it's too early to tell with rookie tight end Jake Ferguson (head/neck injury).
  • With Steele now lost for the year, McCarthy said they will continue to look at the rotation this week between Josh Ball and Jason Peters, both of which stepped in at right tackle on Sunday with vastly different levels of success. On the opposite end of the offensive line at left tackle, owner/general manager Jerry Jones told 105.3 The Fan Tuesday that All-Pro left tackle Tyron Smith will be playing Sunday against the Jaguars.
  • The Cowboys made their long-awaited addition to the wide receiver room on Monday (no, not that one.) Dallas signed four-time Pro Bowler and former Colts' receiver T.Y. Hilton to a one-year deal, while McCarthy said the plan is to have him practice on Wednesday and get him activated based on his ability to play right away. Jones added Tuesday that the Hilton signing does not rule out the potential addition of Odell Beckham Jr. for the playoffs.
  • Though he has only played in just eight games this season, Dak Prescott is already approaching his career-high in interceptions in a season at 13 back in 2017 with nine this season. Prescott has been open about his willingness to be aggressive since his return, but also said Sunday after the game that the turnovers are something he needs to clean up. Of note, the Jaguars' defense ranks near the top-10 in interceptions in 2022.
  • Dallas is making their first trip to Jacksonville since 2006 in search of their first win ever there. The Cowboys played the Jaguars in 2014 in London when they took care of them 31-17 behind a three-touchdown performance from Tony Romo, a six-reception, 158-yard, two-score performance from Dez Bryant, and a 100-yard rushing game from DeMarco Murray. These two last met back in 2018 in Dallas in a 40-7 thumping by the Cowboys.

Jaguars

  • Though it was not their highest-score game of the season, you could make the argument the Jaguars had their most complete game of the season. The Jags sit in second place in the lowly AFC South, but have seen considerable improvement in the first year under former Eagles' coach Doug Pederson, who was brought in to aid Lawrence. The former No. 1 overall pick in 2021 has tapped into that potential this year. He ranked ninth in passing yards and is tied for 10th in touchdown passes.
  • Outside of the addition of a competent NFL head coach, Lawrence has had help this season too. The most notable one? Jacksonville has kept Lawrence upright this season with the offensive line allowing just 23 sacks this season, one of the lower totals for eligible passers in 2022.
  • While the running game of the Jaguars won't initially jump out at you if just look at the stat-sheet, it should not be overlooked. Travis Entienne Jr. has racked up just over 800 yards on the ground this season while averaging right at five yards a carry. That capable running game has helped set up the Jacksonville pass-game which is top-10 in yards per game.
  • Defensively the Jaguars leave plenty to be desired in a multitude of categories, but especially in the sack department. They are near the very bottom in the category overall in the league, though defensive end Dawuane Smoot leads the team with five.
  • Finally on the injury front for the Jaguars, Lawrence missed practice last week on both Wednesday and Thursday with a toe injury despite his monster game against the Titans. Pederson was noncommittal on Monday on if Lawrence would practice this week. This season's No. 1 overall pick in linebacker Travon Walker left Sunday's game early with an ankle injury, and is listed as questionable after having an MRI.

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