The Cowboys' troubles on the field the past month have been matched by off-the-field issues that include a growing Covid-19 list that has Mike McCarthy on it, along with two players. We've got a suspension and injuries that have this 7-4 Cowboys in a bad way as they head to New Orleans.
But the Saints aren't in much better shape having suffered their own issues and a change now at quarterback.
Something has to give. The DallasCowboys.com staff gives their 'gut feeling' for this Week 13 matchup between the Saints and Cowboys.
Rob Phillips: There are parallels to the Chiefs game regarding the challenges the Cowboys' offense will face Thursday night — namely insane crowd noise and a disruptive Saints front. Factor in Mike McCarthy's absence this week due to COVID protocols, the team going to virtual meetings all week, etc., and it's hard to know how this game will play out. Ultimately, because there have been questions lately about the Saints' ability to manufacture points without Jameis Winston, I'll take the Cowboys in a close, grimy type of game, something like 23-20. But that'll also depend on the offense's ability to sustain drives and keep the defense fresher than they were in the Thanksgiving loss to the Raiders.
David Helman: As someone with a connection to both teams, I've always hated picking this game. I especially hate it this year, when this looks like such a toss up between two badly injured teams. The Cowboys once again look like they're going to be short-handed at receiver, and their head coach is absent, while the Saints have injuries all across their offensive line and elsewhere. Both teams need the long break that comes afterward. I don't feel good picking Dallas here, given the way they've played recently — and especially if Amari Cooper can't go. And yet, it's hard for me to justify Taysom Hill or Trevor Siemian outplaying Dak Prescott, who should have a healthier offensive line in front of him. I don't feel good about it, but give me Dak and a couple Dallas takeaways to make the difference in a 20-16 Cowboys win.
Nick Eatman: I've done this for a long time and people like to tell me things like "you've seen it all" and I always correct them. Never seen an NFC Championship Game. Never seen a Cowboys player win MVP. Haven't seen the Cowboys have the No. 1 pick (which is probably a good thing). And guess what, I've never seen the Cowboys play to a tie. And I would hate that, too. But on Tuesday's "Cowboys Break" I just couldn't pick the Cowboys based off everything I've seen with the Covid issues and not having a handful of coaches and then all these question marks on both sides of the ball. But then there's Taysom Hill starting for the Saints and I just can't think he's going to carry them to a win. So I refused either side. Call it a cop-out if you want, but right now, neither team should be picked for a win. Heck, the Cowboys were about 4-5 minutes from playing to a tie last week. Give me Cowboys 22, Saints 22 to cloudy up this playoff picture even more!
Kyle Youmans: This is the week to right the ship for the Cowboys. Lamb, Cooper and Lawrence all re-enter the fold and the Saints are reeling in the wrong direction. The Superdome in prime time will be rocking, which worries me about a slow start. It'll be tough to get a solid run game going against this defense. But I think Dallas finds their balance on offense, opens up the deep game more as the game goes along, and secures a big win. Dallas pulls away late in a 31-13 win over the Saints.
Mickey Spagnola: Just win, baby. Don't need any style points in this game Thursday night against the Saints. With the number of injuries the Cowboys are still dealing with, plus with COVID ravaging the coaching staff, six of the coaches including head coach Mike McCarthy out for this game, the Cowboys still have a lot to overcome in Game 12. But the Saints are having their own injury problems, slated to start Taysom Hill at quarterback, but are expected to be without RB Alvin Kamara and both of their starting offensive tackles, Ryan Ramczyk and Terron Armstead. Let's go and get that eighth win and end this two-game losing streak at the conclusion of this tough stretch of playing four games in 19 days but are now starting a string of three straight road games. Let's say 23-20.