Keys to Victory

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Keys To Victory: Time To Clean Up The Mess

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The Cowboys got a serious wake-up call last week at home, getting blown out by the Broncos, who entered the game with a 4-4 record.

This week, Atlanta comes to town – also at 4-4 – looking to upset the Cowboys, who are once again dealing with injury issues to both Tyron Smith and now Randy Gregory.

Here's a look at the keys to victory for both the Falcons and Cowboys.

The Falcons will win if…

The Falcons' path to victory features a fast start by their offense and Matt Ryan. If the former MVP gets into a groove early, he is capable of stringing together enough completions to put the Cowboys' defense on its heels. In addition, a quick start by Matty Ice will open up running lanes for Mike Davis and Cordarrelle Patterson as the Falcons rely on a sneaky running game to control the clock.

Defensively, the Falcons will make stopping the run the No.1 priority while putting a cap on their coverage to prevent Dak Prescott from taking shots down the field to CeeDee Lamb and Amari Cooper. If the Falcons contain the Cowboys' offense while playing from in front, the Dirty Birds could walk out of the stadium with a big win on the road.

The Cowboys will win if…

The Cowboys must play a clean football game to get back into the win column this week. The team needs to avoid the turnovers, penalties, and big plays allowed that led to their surprising loss in Week 9. Dak Prescott needs to lead the way by playing an efficient game from the pocket. He needs to maintain his aggressiveness by taking the downfield shots when they appear, but exercise enough discretion to take the check-down when the defense takes away the deep ball. Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard need to make their mark as the 1-2 punch on the ground.

On defense, the Cowboys need to clean up some of the issues that have started popping up in their play in recent weeks. The frontline must shore up the gap integrity problems to eliminate the Falcons' running game, and Trevon Diggs must focus on maintaining proper leverage on receivers down the field. The sticky-fingered ballhawk has delivered plenty of splash plays but he has given up a few too many deep balls as an All-Pro defender. If the Cowboys play a solid football game, they should chalk up win No.7 this weekend.

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