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X Factors

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X Factors: Game-changers in Miami-Dallas matchup


FRISCO, Texas – This game is filled with dynamic players, so coming up with just 10 isn't an easy chore.

Since the Super Bowl is always the goal for every team, we decided to rank the Top 10 X-factors for the Cowboys and Dolphins, using roman numerals, since 10 = X.

Here we go, these 10 guys will likely be big difference-makers one way or another.

X – De'Von Achane – The Dolphins were already the fastest offense in the NFL before they added the speedy Achane to the mix but the rookie from Texas A&M brings another gear to the offense. He's only played in limited time, due to injuries, but he's averaging 8.5 yards a carry and has seven touchdowns on the ground, despite just 72 carries.

IX – Tyreek Hill – After missing last week's game with the Jets because of an ankle injury, Hill should be in good shape to play against the Cowboys. Hill was a game-time decision last Sunday, meaning he is expected to be healthy enough for this game. Hill leads the NFL in receiving yards with 1,542, even despite being out last week. His speed is unmatched and will likely cause plenty of matchup problems.

VIII – Bradley Chubb – Recently named AFC Defensive Player of the Week on Wednesday, Chubb had his best game of the season last week against the Jets, recording three sacks with two forced fumbles and one recover. Chubb, the former No. 5 overall pick of the Broncos in 2018, joined the Dolphins last season and has 9.5 sacks, the most since his rookie year in Denver when he had 12.5.

VII – Tua Tagovailoa – His 104.0 rating is second in the league, behind only Brock Purdy (106.0) and ahead of Dak Prescott (103.8). He leads the NFL in completion percentage (71.0) and passing yards (3,921). Whether or not he's the real leader of the offense or the one that simply distributes the ball to the playmakers, Tagovailoa's performance will undoubtedly play a huge factor in the outcome.

VI – Tony Pollard – It's not just the Dolphins who have some explosive running backs. Pollard is also an effective back that has been rather consistent this year, even if his numbers haven't been off the charts. San Francisco's Christian McCaffrey is the only other running back in the NFL this year that has produced at least 50 yards from scrimmage in every game this year.

V – DaRon Bland – With the speed demons on the edge such as Hill and Jaylen Waddle, the Cowboys cornerbacks are going to be tested early and often. Stephon Gilmore and Bland will both be challenged but look for the Dolphins to try and get Bland on the move with the crossing routes. Plus, both cornerbacks will need to step up in run support with the Dolphins likely using a similar approach that Buffalo did in running off the edge.

IV – Micah Parsons The Dolphins are loaded with playmakers. The Cowboys definitely have one on defense in Parsons, who wasn't much of a factor last Sunday in Buffalo. If the defense is going to have any chance of slowing down the NFL's No. 1 offense, Parsons has to be a game-wrecker.

III – Markquese Bell There are bigger names to mention here but something tells me Bell will be counted on heavily to try and keep a lid on the Dolphins' rushing attack and/or to keep Tua Tagovailoa from scrambling to move the chains. After seeing James Cook have his way, up next comes the speedy duo of Devon Achane and Raheem Mostert, so Bell and Co. will have their hands full — needing to improve upon the 12 missed tackles as a defense suffered against the Bills.

II – CeeDee Lamb – He did what he could in the fight against the Bills, but the Cowboys did indeed get defeated by a "formula" that saw Dallas go down 21-3; and that forced them to become one-dimensional in the chilled wind with rain moving in. This time around, in sunny Miami, Lamb should have a chance to get going early to help apply pressure to the Dolphins secondary — one that allowed Will Levis to mount a game-winning drive there recently.

I – Dak Prescott – Make no bones about it, Prescott is looking to have a big day in South Florida and, needless to say, he might have to if the Cowboys are looking to upset the Dolphins at Hard Knock Stadium. It wasn't the best showing for him and the offense in Buffalo, adding to the questions surrounding their struggles on the road, and outscoring the high-powered Dolphins would go a long way to silencing that critique. Still every bit a frontrunner for MVP, Prescott has to walk into 305, cook up an explosive day and leave with an 11th win.

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