LONDON – This is a setting unlike any regular season game the Cowboys have ever played, but the circumstances should be familiar to any NFL player, coach or fan.
The Cowboys enter Sunday on a two-game losing streak with a Week 11 bye looming on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. A win would give them a healthy, four-game cushion and a week to rest before a stretch run that will feature four road games in the final six weeks.
A loss gives them an added week to dwell on their losing streak, and sends to them to their next game – a divisional road game – playing dangerously close to that familiar .500 level.
Having factored all of that, here are the gut feelings from the staff of DallasCowboys.com on Sunday's game against Jacksonville:
Nick Eatman:The Cowboys have never been here before to play a regular-season game. The Jaguars have been here three times now. Jacksonville is starting to get a lot of fans here, and while the Cowboys have a strong fan-base, too, there were will be a lot of fans rooting against Dallas, just because. Add in the fact the Jags are playing much better and the Cowboys have lost two straight games and what do you get? You get the Cowboys winning 34-14. That's the way I see it, at least. I really like the attitude I've seen from this team this week. This is a business trip all the way. From what I hear, there weren't a lot of players, coaches excited about the trip they made Friday night because it steered from the overall theme and focus of the trip. This is about coming here and getting to 7-3 before the bye. The difference between 6-2 and 5-3 didn't seem to be great. But 6-4 and 7-3 is like a completely different outlook. The Cowboys must take care of business and with Tony Romo back, I see that happening here Sunday. Jacksonville has good, young talent and can be scrappy on defense. But I can promise you they will be focused on testing Romo's back and getting up the field and by doing so, they'll be gashed in the running game. I see a 200-yard game for DeMarco Murray on Sunday. The Cowboys take control early in the game and force Blake Bortles into a few mistakes. The Cowboys will have an impressive game here Sunday and look for a bounce-back day for Brandon Carr.
David Helman: I got burned by expecting Tony Romo to play last weekend, but I feel no trepidation about saying he'll play this time around. I think he will play against the Jaguars, and I think he will be somewhat limited, but effective – a lot like his performance Week 2 against Tennessee. The Cowboys shouldn't need Romo to carry this game, but they will need him to make two or three throws that keep the Jaguars at bay. With a legitimate passing threat back in the mix, I'm thinking DeMarco Murray can get to at least 130 yards against a rushing defense ranked 24th in yards allowed per game. I imagine Blake Bortles will play a similar game to Austin Davis from the Rams back in Week 3 – he's going to hurt this Dallas defense, but he should also make one or two very costly mistakes. The Cowboys will take control of the game in the second half, and they'll win – something like 30-17.
Bryan Broaddus: The last two weeks this Cowboys offense has been out of sorts with their overall execution. Areas where they had been having success in that six-game winning streak has hit a bit of a dry spell. The Jaguars defensively struggle in several different categories, but the one that they are best in the league is playing in the red zone. Conversely, the Cowboys are ranked ninth, so something will have to give here. My gut feeling is the Cowboys will be a perfect 4-of-4 in their trips into the red zone and it will get this offense back on the track to once again do those things that will allow them to play winning football.