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Big Picture: 5 Storylines For Cowboys & Patriots


Here are five quick storylines for each team to get us ready for the matchup Sunday in New England.


  • Tom Brady was visibly frustrated after Sunday's win over the Eagles, disappointed in the offense and even admitting that the Patriots are feeding off the strength of their defense and special teams. Brady, the only quarterback in NFL history with six Super Bowl rings, obviously has high standards. And even though he acknowledged the Patriots are still 9-1 this season, he wasn't happy about his team scoring just 17 points at Philadelphia last week.
  • One of the specific problem areas for the Patriots has been red-zone scoring. New England ranks 25th in the NFL, finding the end zone at just 48 percent of their trips inside the 20-yard line. One of the players who could help the Pats this week is first-round pick N'Keal Harry, who was activated to the roster last week for the first time this year. Harry suffered an ankle injury that landed him on IR but made his debut against the Eagles, catching three passes for 18 yards.
  • Like Harry, another key offensive player returning from IR is offensive tackle Isaiah Wynn. Patriots coach Bill Belichick said he expects Wynn to be active for the first time this year and could be inserted into the starting lineup at left tackle. Wynn was the Patriots' first-round pick in 2018 and was injured in Week 2 this year against the Dolphins, but is now eligible for return.
  • One thing that has carried the Patriots all season is their stingy defense that ranks first in total yards allowed (249.9) and points allowed (10.8). The Patriots have scored six touchdowns on defense or special teams. To compare, they've only allowed nine total offensive touchdowns this year.
  • The Patriots have been one of the best teams in the land at just about any stadium over the last two decades. But here of late, winning at Gillette Stadium has been even tougher. New England has won 17 straight regular-season games at home, dating back to October 2017. The Cowboys have certainly had their issues in New England, albeit it's a smaller sample size. The Cowboys haven't won there since 1987.


  • Injuries have been a problem for the Cowboys all year, especially hurting their depth. They took another hit this week with cornerback Anthony Brown going to IR with a triceps injury. The Cowboys have two cornerbacks on the practice squad, including Donovan Olumba, but could look to add depth there with a veteran.
  • One storyline that will be seen throughout the week is Michael Bennett's return to the Patriots. New England traded him away to the Cowboys after he was disgruntled over playing time and was even suspended for a game after an incident with the coaching staff. Bennett had 2.5 sacks in his six games with the Patriots, but he has three sacks in three games with the Cowboys and will certainly be looking to add to that total as he faces his former teammates.
  • With his third straight game of three touchdown passes and his third 400-yard game of the season, Dak Prescott is slowly getting himself into the NFL MVP discussions, although the Cowboys are just 6-4. He's obviously going to have to lead the Cowboys to more wins to be a serious contender for that award, but he's at least leading the NFL in passing yards (3,221). He'll obviously have the toughest test this week against the NFL's No. 1 ranked defense.
  • While Prescott's numbers have been strong, the same can't be said for Ezekiel Elliott, who scored two touchdowns last week. Zeke has been held under 50 yards for two straight games for the first time in his career, and he hasn't been able to break off a run longer than 27 yards this year. In fact, over the last two weeks the Cowboys don't have a rush longer than 9 yards, and that came from Prescott, who nearly picked up a first down on a designed run.
  • The kicking game has becoming a disturbing trend the last three games. The Cowboys have been able to overcome them with two victories, but the Patriots have consistently been one of the better special teams units and the Cowboys can't afford more mistakes this week. Against the Lions, the Cowboys allowed a long punt return that led to a touchdown and had some miscommunications on kick returns that led to poor field position. The week before, the Cowboys mishandled a late-game punt return situation against the Vikings and also gave up two big kick returns the week before in New York.