It’s the biggest test of the Cowboys’ season – and a great opportunity to keep their momentum going.
Will Dallas (6-5) extend its win streak to four? Or will the New Orleans Saints, winners of 10 straight, move to 11-1? The DallasCowboys.com staff gives their ‘gut feelings’ for Thursday’s showdown (7:20 p.m. Central) at AT&T Stadium:
Bryan Broaddus: I understand – no one is giving this team much of a chance against the New Orleans Saints. Too good of a head coach and offense, and the defense is improving each week. The Saints deserve your consideration as the best team in the NFL and Super Bowl favorites. As good as the Saints have been, their opponents on Thursday have been just as good these last three games. The Cowboys have finally found some offensive rhythm to go along with a defense that has played well the entire year. It’s been a difficult time trying to figure out this team, but I feel like they’re starting to put some things together. The Saints present the ultimate test, but the Cowboys will be prepared for it. The defense has some rocky moments but gets enough stops to give the offense a chance: Dallas 28, New Orleans 24.
David Helman: I think there are two big factors working in the Cowboys’ favor in this game. Firstly, I genuinely think they’re going to be able to run the ball just fine. I firmly believe the Saints’ top-ranked run defense is a byproduct of their explosive offense. Secondly, Drew Brees is a true pocket passer, and I think that means DeMarcus Lawrence and the Dallas pass rush will have a good shot to get after him and disrupt the Saints’ flow. Those two things give the Cowboys a great chance to win. Unfortunately, I think there’s just too many ways for the Saints to put pressure on you. I don’t trust the Cowboys’ offense to cash in on their red zone opportunities, and I don’t trust their secondary to force the Saints to settle for field goals. It’s going to be a riveting game, but ultimately I think a late Dallas turnover makes the difference and the Saints get out of town with a 34-24 win.
Lindsay Draper: What a meetup on Thursday – and the name of the game, for the Cowboys, has got to be ‘keep away.’ There’s no ‘stopping’ this No. 1 Saints offense. They’re dynamic, fast, score quick, and also lead the league in time of possession. So there’s your key: just churn out drives and keep the ball away from them as long as you possibly can. Although the Cowboys are on a three-game win streak and definitely have momentum, I’m worried about the sheer speed and tempo New Orleans brings every single down. They are playing like a Super Bowl team, and it’s no fluke. They’ve been this dynamic for the duration of the season. Saints win, but the Cowboys suffer a ‘good’ loss because they keep up and stay within striking distance.
Rob Phillips: I had the privilege of covering the Cowboys’ shocking win in New Orleans back in 2009. Those Saints looked unstoppable, too, averaging close to 40 points a game. I fully expect the Cowboys to bring it Thursday night. They’ve got a ton of confidence and they don’t mind the underdog role, so another upset wouldn’t surprise me. It’s going to be a great game, but the Saints have been so consistently efficient on offense the entire season – and that’s the difference for me in a 60-minute game. If the Dallas defense can hand Dak Prescott and the offense a couple of extra possessions, my gut will want a do-over. When it’s all said and done, I’ve still got Dallas winning the division and maybe seeing New Orleans again in January.
Mickey Spagnola: This will be a Saintly gut feeling, and hopefully it’s been blessed, since we’re talkin’ going way outside the box, predicting the Cowboys will end the Saints’ 10-game winning streak, 31-30, Thursday night while extending theirs to four straight. Prevailing thought here is the Saints, as good as they’ve been, aren’t likely to go 15-1 this season, just as they were unlikely to go 16-0 in 2009 when the Cowboys went to New Orleans and were ‘dat ones to beat those 13-0 Saints, 24-17, and ruin their bid for an undefeated season. As I’ve always said, the more you lose in the NFL the closer you are to stumbling into and win, and vice-versa, the more you win in the NFL the closer you are to eventually stubbing your toe. ‘Bout time the Saints screamed ouch.
Nick Eatman: It seems like there’s a theme this week that I keep hearing around the facility. “I don’t think they’ll win but I won’t be surprised if they do.” Hey, I’m the king of hedging bets, but I’m not seeing the logic here. Can they win? Sure, it’s the NFL. But if the Cowboys win, yes I’ll be surprised. As hot as they’ve been here in the last three weeks, the Saints are seemingly three times as hot, winning 10 in a row. I did look up the stat that showed the Cowboys have faced a team four times that have won 10 straight games, and have a 2-2 record. I think the Cowboys’ offense will have some success and hang in there. But at the end of the day, I don’t have a lot of confidence the defense will continue to get enough stops time after time. I see the Saints pulling away in the second half for a 37-24 win.