The Patriots have been one of the best teams of the last two decades and it’s not exception this year as they wait for the Cowboys with their 9-1 record. This is a huge benchmark game for the Cowboys, who need this win to stay in first place of the NFC East.
The DallasCowboys.com staff gives their ‘gut feeling’ for Sunday’s game in New England.
Rob Phillips: All these headlines up north about Tom Brady’s so-called decline . . . man, that’s unfortunate timing for the Cowboys. Brady has a lot of Michael Jordan to him: He has always looked for any slight, real or perceived as motivation. None of that talk has come from the Cowboys. They know the challenge that awaits every phase of their team Sunday. Defensively they have to play their cleanest game, because the Patriots like to get their skill players out in space a lot. Offensively, they’ve got to avoid turnovers against, by far, the highest-takeaway defense in the league. Weather could be a factor, too. Road teams don’t win often up there, but I’m taking the Cowboys because every time they’ve seemingly been counted out the last two years (vs. Philly this year, at the Saints last year) they play their best.
Nick Eatman: I usually decide which way I’m going the day we write these on Friday. Not this week. I had this one picked out for the last six weeks I think. Those who watch and listen to “The Break” know where I’m headed here. I just think it’s totally the Cowboys thing to do if they win this game. It doesn’t mean they’ll win many games after this or even against Buffalo in four days. But beating the Patriots where they never lose, would fit into their up-and-down ways. I think the Cowboys will not only win this game, but I think they’re going to be the better team. The fact that New England’s defense has only faced one team in the Top 15 this year is a factor for me. The fact that the one team – Baltimore – crushed them just makes me wonder how much they’ve been tested. Sure, the Patriots are great and will be great after this game regardless of the outcome. But my gut tells me the Cowboys are going to play very sound on defense, tackle better than ever, and the offense will test the Patriots in ways they haven’t been tested this year. Give me Dallas, 28-17.
Mickey Spagnola: Gut tells me the Cowboys are going to win this game, 23-20. But that will depend on these three things. First, they cannot turn the ball over. The Patriots lead the NFL with 28 takeaways, six of those returned for touchdowns. Second, the Cowboys must tackle well, not allowing the Patriots any of those little-big plays. Meaning turning those screen passes to running backs and those short crossing patterns to underneath receivers into huge gains. Must be aware. And lastly, unleash Zeke. Look, it’s going to be cold, rainy and windy in Foxborough, Mass., for the game on Sunday, weather not even fit for the birds. Plus, the Patriots lead the NFL with 37 sacks, 19 of those interceptions. Throwing 46 times could be debilitating. On top of that, they don’t play a lot of down linemen – ever. Love to rush linebackers all over the formation. So the Cowboys must run right over that undersized front. And that my dear friends is the recipe for 23-20.
David Helman: Here’s the frustrating thing: the Cowboys are talented enough to win this game. They have the No. 1 offense in the league, with enough balance and enough weapons to challenge the Patriots in the air and on the ground. They have an unflappable quarterback who is playing the best football of his life. Their defense has struggled at times this season, but then again, so has the Patriots’ offense. The problem is that I just don’t trust the Cowboys to play to their talent level. They haven’t managed to put together a complete performance all season long, so it’s hard for me to imagine they’re going to step up and deliver against the defending world champions in a building where they almost never lose. I see this being a fairly defensive game, with the conditions hindering what both offenses want to do. The Cowboys are good enough to find some success, but they’ve also shown a tendency to get in their own way. Against a good team, that will bite them, which is why I see a late turnover helping New England squeak out a 24-20 win.