The Cowboys are looking to become 4-0 for the first time since 2007, but standing in the way are the New Orleans Saints. Even without future Hall of Famer Drew Brees, the Saints will be a formidable opponent, especially in the always-raucous Superdome.
The DallasCowboys.com staff gives their 'gut feeling' for this Week 4 game with the Saints.
Mickey Spagnola: The Cowboys played last week against Miami a bit shorthanded with five considered starters out with injuries. My gut tells me the Cowboys should be in much better shape Sunday night in regards to the walking wounded. Start with Pro Bowl guard Zack Martin, whose back flared up this week to the point he did not practice on Thursday, is ready to go. Same for Amari Cooper, limited all week with a sore ankle. I'm told he's ready to go for sure. Same for free safety Xavier Woods, who missed last Sunday with a slightly sprained ankle. In fact, he tells us he was pushing to play against Miami, that he felt that good, and he, too, was mystified when that national report came out he would miss four to six games. Punt returner/wide receiver Tavon Austin, in concussion protocol the past two games, has practiced all week and will be available if called upon. So really, the only guys the Cowboys will be missing are the three starters still out:: WR Michael Gallup, DL Tyrone Crawford and DT Antwaun Woods. So my gut, too, tells me the Cowboys should survive the Noise Dome.
Bryan Broaddus: I am going to remind you of something I learned a long time ago in the NFL. Nobody feels sorry for you when you lose players to injury. Last year when these two teams met, the Cowboys were down three starting offensive linemen and still won the game with a gutty effort. The Saints will be down Drew Brees and their offense will be different because of it. Brees is the master of making those backbreaking plays which crush a defense while Teddy Bridgewater does not. I expect to see Kris Richard/Rod Marinelli to come after Bridgewater in this matchup and challenge him to make plays consistently. As a staff they saw what the Los Angeles Rams did to him with pressure and that's going to be too much for him to overcome. No Drew Brees will hurt the Saints and the defense takes advantage of that 28-17.
David Helman: I'm ready to watch a stressful football game. Ironically, the last time these two teams played at the Superdome, one of them was starting a backup quarterback and the game went to overtime. I don't know if overtime is going to happen this time around, but I think the Saints have more than enough talent to make this a close game – even without Drew Brees. Between Alvin Kamara and Mike Thomas, I think Teddy Bridgewater has enough weapons to move the ball. My thing is that I think the Dallas defense can limit the Saints to field goals. And when the Cowboys' offense is humming like this, that should provide the difference. The Cowboys should be able to find balance in this game. Running the ball might be tough sledding, but Dak Prescott should be able to flirt with 300 passing yards to back the defense off the line of scrimmage. A fun prediction: I think Tony Pollard will get in on the action with 50 receiving yards and a touchdown. Bridgewater will find ways to keep it close, but I ultimately think then Cowboys will be better in the red zone, and it will help them to a close win – something like 27-23.
Rob Phillips: Offensive coordinator Kellen Moore said Jason Garrett "maxed that sucker out" regarding the noise in practice this week, trying best to simulate what's in store Sunday night at the Superdome. How the offense handles that in pre-snap communication, particularly early when that place is rocking, will be most critical. This where a veteran offensive line, and Travis Frederick at center, helps the Cowboys in a situation like this. The Saints undoubtedly have a sense of urgency without Drew Brees, but I've seen enough from the Dallas offense in three games to feel good about their ability to move the ball and score points over the course of 60 minutes. They were 1-of-5 in the red zone last November against New Orleans. As long as they're finishing drives, I think it'll be the Cowboys moving to 4-0 for the first time in 12 years.
Nick Eatman: It's a show-me league – always has been. With that, the Cowboys are going to have to show me something not to pick them. They're 3-0, yeah the schedule ahs been favorable but you can argue that they're still getting breaks, especially with Drew Brees being out. I think Teddy Bridgewater was able to play well with a lead but it'll be different if the Cowboys can get out in front and force the Saints to be more aggressive. I think the Cowboys will tackle better than the Saints and swarm to the ball on Kamara. I like Dak Prescott to be more of a runner this game and hurt the Saints with his legs as well. Zeke will have a nice night and look for Devin Smith to get by the defense again this week for a huge play. Give me Dallas with a hard-fought, yet somewhat comfortable 30-20 win.