Big Picture: 5 Storylines For Cowboys & Jets

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The Jets and Cowboys haven’t played since 2015 and it’s been eight years since they met at the Meadowlands. But the Jets are 0-4 and the Cowboys have lost two straight to be at 3-2, putting even more pressure on both teams to get a win on Sunday.

Here are five quick storylines for each team to get us ready for the matchup.

NY Jets

  • The Jets have officially cleared Sam Darnold to play this week after his recent bout with mononucleosis that has kept him out for the next three games. Jets head coach Adam Gase said earlier this week that Darnold would start against the Cowboys if cleared by doctors this week. Expect him to be under center for the first time since Week 1, when the Jets lost to the Bills 17-16. Since then, they’ve been outscored 84-28.
  • If there’s someone who could be the happiest about Darnold’s return, it might just be Le’Veon Bell. He not only leads the team in rushing, but receiving as well with 27 receptions. But he doesn’t have a single rushing TD all year and his only touchdown catch occurred in Week 1, from Darnold.
  • Darnold isn’t the only guy the Jets are hoping to get back after a lengthy absence. Second-year tight end Chris Herndon is also returning to the roster after serving a four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy. Herndon was a fourth-round draft pick out of Miami last year, and he immediately grew into a big-time contributor. He caught 39 balls for 502 yards and four touchdowns last season. If he’s ready to play this weekend, he could help open up a passing game that hasn’t had much in the way of weapons.
  • Injuries on the defensive line have been a problem for the Jets, who now might be without Henry Anderson, who suffered a shoulder injury early in Sunday’s game against the Eagles. He’s one of the Jets’ most productive linemen, along with first-round pick Quinnen Williams, who has been dealing with an ankle injury but has returned to the lineup.
  • Safety Jamal Adams was in the news earlier this season when it appeared he might be disgruntled and wanting a trade. But Adams never publicly said that, and he’s only played well in recent weeks, giving the Jets an option as both a cover safety and in-the-box player who can support the run. On a defense with a lot of first-round picks, Adams is consistently the Jets’ best defender.

Cowboys

  • Tyron Smith has a “promising” chance to play this week at left tackle for the Cowboys after missing last week’s game with an ankle injury. The Cowboys could be without right tackle La’el Collins now with an MCL sprain but the club will monitor his status throughout the week. Cam Fleming started last week’s game at left tackle, but could possibly now start on the right side if Smith returns but Collins is out.
  • The Cowboys are sticking with Brett Maher as their kicker for now, despite him missing two more kicks on Sunday, including a 33-yarder in the fourth quarter that ended any chance of a comeback. Maher is 4 of 7 this year and hasn’t made a kicker longer than 36 yards. Both Jason Garrett and Jerry Jones have given Maher their support and pointed toward his recent history of making big kicks that gives them confidence in him.
  • Two weeks ago, Dak Prescott seemed on top of the world, at least on top of the stat leaders. But after losing two straight games, Prescott’s numbers have also taken a hit. Sure, he put up a career-high 463 passing yards against the Packers, but he also had three interceptions. And that’s four picks the last two weeks after throwing only two in the first three games. While Dak continues to play without a new contract, his owner Jerry Jones said it’s “laughable” to suggest that the negotiations are fluctuating with every game he plays. Read more!
  • The Cowboys were able to get one defensive linemen back last week in Tyrone Crawford, who plays both end and tackle. But they should be getting one of their best run-stopping tackles back this week in Antwaun Woods, who has missed the last two games with a knee injury. Woods returned to practice last week in a limited role but should be ready to go against the Jets. The Cowboys were gashed several times last week by the Packers and Aaron Jones, who had 107 rushing yards and scored four touchdowns, the most by any Cowboys’ opponent in franchise history.
  • Cowboys owner Jerry Jones dismissed the notion that head coach Jason Garrett is on the hot seat after losing two games. Jones was asked on his weekly radio show about a report from Las Vegas oddsmakers that had Garrett as the next coach to be fired. Jones basically told the interviewers that anyone taking that bet would lose money. Read more!

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