Football analyst Bucky Brooks, a former NFL player and scout who now works for NFL Network and serves as an analyst for DallasCowboys.com, gives his weekly keys to the game Sunday, providing specific points of emphasis for both the Cowboys and Colts.
The Colts will win if…
The Colts' want to control the tempo with a smash-mouth offense built around Jonathan Taylor's talents as an explosive power runner. Interim head coach Jeff Saturday will make a concerted effort to get No.28 ball to turn this game into a half-court basketball game with limited possessions If Taylor is able to grind out a series of four-yard runs that forces the defense to put extra defenders in the box,
Matt Ryan could make a handful of plays as a passer utilizing a series of play-action concepts that test the discipline and awareness of the linebackers and defensive backs.
Defensively, the Colts will challenge the Cowboys to drive the length of the field by utilizing short throws and runs. Defensive coordinator Gus Bradley will take away the deep ball at all costs and put pressure on Dak Prescott to play a disciplined game from the pocket. If the Colts limit the big plays on the perimeter, the scrappy squad can steal a win by utilizing a ball-control strategy designed to keep the game close for 60 minutes.
The Cowboys will win if…
The Cowboys have been at their best when relying on an explosive running game and opportunistic defense to dictate the terms of the game. Tony Pollard and Ezekiel Elliott should receive a heavy workload to set the table for an offense that wants to control the game with a power running game that sets up deep shots to CeeDee Lamb and others on play passes. If Dak Prescott can patiently await his opportunity to take his shot down the field without forcing a throw into coverage, the Cowboys will score on a series of long drives that wears the Colts down in the second half.
Defensively, the Cowboys must contain Jonathan Taylor and force Matt Ryan to throw in obvious situations. The Colts' leaky offensive line struggles in pass protection on the edges and that could lead to big days from Micah Parsons, DeMarcus Lawrence, Dorance Armstrong, and Dante Fowler. If the defensive front is able to cut it loose without fearing the run, the Cowboys will force a ton of turnovers and splash plays that result in an easy win for America's Team.