I love seeing some of the historic plays in Cowboys history you guys have been putting on the website, especially the one of Larry Allen's tackle to prevent the pick-six. I would love nothing more than to be able to see Allen in his prime go toe-to-toe with Aaron Donald of the Rams. Head-to-head, who do you think wins that battle? — RANDY CHILDS / NORTH GRAFTON, MA
Nick: Wow, that's a tough one. Especially tough because there's never a right answer there. Just like with any competition, they both would probably win at times in the game. But overall, I've got to go with Larry Allen, just because of his pure strength. Not saying Donald isn't strong and he's definitely quick, but Allen could certainly move for a big guy, too. I think Allen would be able to handle Donald most of the time, but it would be a fun matchup to watch.
Kyle: Both guys are as incredible as they come at their respective positions and will undoubtedly be enshrined in Canton together when Donald's career is done. Their resumes are very similar. Both have seven Pro Bowls, one Super Bowl, All-Decade Team mentions, and were Madden 99 club members multiple times. But here's the thing. Allen was known as the strongest man to ever play in the NFL. At the top of his game, he could bench press 700 pounds, while Donald (still remarkably) can lift around 500. So that's my tiebreaker between the two. I think Allen would win the battle through most of the game, but also think Donald would make adjustments and make register a sack at some point.
When the Cowboys went 13-3 in 2016, the offensive line was really great, which led to a good running game. That's what they need to get back to for postseason success. This year it seems like there are a lot of "ifs" with the line. How well do you see the line blocking for the run game this year? — STEVE WADDELL / SUFFOLK, VA
Nick: Exactly right. The Cowboys will only be as good as this offensive line can take them. The line will help Dak and Zeke, just like it did in 2016. I think the blocking for the running game should be better, based off the addition of Tyler Smith, who will give them an upgrade with strength. Terence Steele is a good run blocker and if Tyler Biadasz can improve there, the line will be in good shape in terms of blocking. If that gets re-established again, the Cowboys might have a shot to lean on the running game again. If that can happen, this could be a really good team. But it all hinges on being able to run the ball consistently.
Kyle: You're spot on. When this team has been at its highest, even back in the 90's, the offensive line was the strength. That certainly doesn't seem to be the case this season. There is still plenty of confidence in savvy veterans like Zack Martin and Tryon Smith, with a prayer for availability. And while they've shown growth, there are plenty of questions surrounding Tyler Biadasz and Terence Steele. But the most insecure spots are left guard and swing tackle. We've seen that these last few seasons have needed a revolving door of capable linemen to plug holes left by injuries. Can the young duo of Matt Waletzko and Josh Ball confidently fill those holes when needed? I'd lean on the side of "not yet." The battle for left guard is between rookie first-rounder Tyler Smith and Connor McGovern who enters a contract year. A battle that I believe Smith will win and provide a jolt, especially in the run game. All-in-all, it's an odd time up front with a mixture of youth and aging veterans. Put those things together and I think the line can be stronger than last year. But not without suspicion.