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Big Picture: 5 Storylines For Cowboys & Saints 


The Cowboys and Saints played more of a defensive struggle last year at AT&T Stadium, with Dallas holding on to a 13-10 win.

But things are different now for both teams, including the Saints playing without future Hall of Famer Drew Brees. The Cowboys have exploded on offense through three games but another big difference this year is the location. The Saints can be awfully tough at home in the Superdome, which will likely be electric come Sunday night.

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

New Orleans

  • In his first start since Drew Brees' thumb injury, Teddy Bridgewater didn't exactly light up Seattle's defense, but he led the offense to a victory in which the Saints scored 33 points. He threw two touchdowns and 177 yards, but kept it simple with shorter passes and found his playmakers – both Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara – letting them do most of the dirty work. Bridgewater is now 18-12 as a starter in this league.
  • While his first two seasons saw him as more of a complementary back that can run and catch the ball, Alvin Kamara is now every bit the featured back for the Saints, and he's thriving in the role. Last week against Seattle, Kamara carried – literally – the Saints to a road win. He played 88 percent of the Saints' offensive snaps. He rushed the ball 16 times for 69 yards and also had nine catches for 92 yards and a touchdown. Last year against the Cowboys, Kamara was held to just 36 yards rushing and 36 receiving.
  • Saints head coach Sean Payton has been raving about rookie punt returner Deonte Harris, who finally broke free last Sunday against Seattle with a 53-yard touchdown in the first quarter to give the Saints an early lead. Harris leads the entire NFL in punt return yards with 107 and also leads the NFL in combined return yards with 203, as he also serves as the Saints' primary kick returner.
  • Despite the change in quarterbacks, wide receiver Michael Thomas is still putting up big numbers. He leads the NFC with 25 catches and ranks fifth with 266 yards. He signed a huge contract during training camp, one that appeared to have an effect on Amari Cooper's next contract. But for now, the two are both atop the NFL leaders in several categories and should put on quite a show Sunday night.
  • On the flip side, the Saints are near the bottom in the league in pass defense, allowing 301.7. yards per game through the air. That's not a great matchup for them with the Cowboys coming to town. Dak Prescott is the NFL's second-ranked passer in QB rating (128.0) and has 920 yards, averaging over 305 yards per outing.


  • From an injury standpoint, the Cowboys are rather beat up on the defensive line. Fortunately for them, it's an area of depth. But it's not likely that nose tackle Antwaun Woods (knee) will play this week and isn't even expected to practice. Defensive end/tackle Tyrone Crawford (hip) missed last week's game against Miami and could be out again this week. While Robert Quinn came back from suspension and got a sack in his first game. There could be some depth issues in the middle but Christian Covington played through a calf injury and second-round pick Trysten Hill was able to make his NFL debut at the backup tackle spot.
  • Some good news in the secondary could occur depending on Xavier Woods' health. The safety missed last week's game with an ankle injury but could return to practice on Friday. Woods is one of the team's most active defenders and will be needed with the Saints' high-powered offense. Although, even with Woods out, backup Darian Thompson filled in nicely and could be used in other sub-packages as well.
  • One player not expected to return this week on offense is receiver Michael Gallup, who had surgery last week to remove a torn meniscus from his knee. Gallup should be out another 1-2 weeks. He was missed in the first half last Sunday against Miami but the offense finally picked up the pace in the second half. Tavon Austin (concussion) has missed two games but is expected to return this week to the lineup.
  • While the defense has only allowed 44 points over three games, which ranks fourth in the NFL, the Cowboys are near the bottom in both sacks and turnovers. Just five sacks for the defense after three games has them ranked 30th. The Cowboys are one of five teams in the NFL without an interception on defense.
  • With 103 rushing yards from rookie Tony Pollard, the Cowboys had a pair of 100-yard rushers for just the fourth time in Cowboys history and the first time since 1998. Ironically, the last time the Cowboys featured two rushers over 100 yards, Jason Garrett was the starting quarterback, as he allowed Emmitt Smith and Chris Warren to take over in a 31-10 win at Washington. Pollard and Ezekiel Elliott formed a dynamic duo last week but the Cowboys aren't exactly ready to make this a two-back system. Last week, with the game in doubt, Zeke had a 13-2 advantage in carries. Pollard was able to make up the difference in the second half with the game out of reach.