This past week’s victory against the first-place New Orleans Saints was a statement win for the Dallas Cowboys. With a six and five record coming into the matchup, the jury was still out on whether or not the Cowboys were truly contenders in the NFC. But after the 13-10 victory, the Cowboys proved that even without the most prolific offense, they are still Super Bowl contenders.
Despite a strong offensive line and an All-Pro running back in Ezekiel Elliot, there were concerns coming into the season about how quarterback Dak Prescott and the rest of the Cowboys’ offense would fare without former star wideout Dez Bryant and future Hall of Fame tight end Jason Witten. To date, the concerns have been warranted. Offensively, the Cowboys are 25th in the league in yards per game with 331.8 and are 24th in the league in points scored per game with 20.6.
To help boost the offense, the Cowboys acquired the Oakland Raiders top wide receiver Amari Cooper for their 2019 first-round pick. Although many experts felt the Cowboys gave up too much for Cooper, the trade has paid immediate dividends for the Cowboys who are 4-1 since the trade. Cooper has excelled so far going for 424 receiving yards and three touchdowns in the five games. However, the real catalyst for the Cowboys strong November has been their defense.
The Cowboys are allowing the fifth fewest total yards per game at 318.2, the fourth fewest rush yards per game at 91.2, and the second-fewest points per game at 18.6. Led by All-Pro defensive end Demarcus Lawrence and rookie middle linebacker Leighton Vander Esch, the Cowboys defense has been one of the toughest in the league. Despite a struggling offense, Thursday night’s 13-10 victory against Drew Brees and the Saints prolific offensive unit showcased just how elite this defensive unit has become. Drew Brees, one of this years leading MVP candidates, had his worst game of the season throwing for only 127 passing yards and had a season-low passer rating of 71.6 for a Saints offense which struggled to move the ball all game.
At 7-5, the NFC East is now the Cowboys division to lose and with a win this week against their big division rival and the reigning Super Bowl Champion Philadelphia Eagles, the Cowboys would almost certainly seal their ticket to the playoffs. The Cowboys old-school style doesn’t make them the most entertaining team to watch, but with a good offensive line, strong running game, and stellar defense, the Cowboys, as proven by the Saints victory, can beat anyone. They might not be as exciting as this year’s offensive powerhouses like the Kansas City Chiefs and Los Angeles Rams, but they could very well be just as dangerous come playoff time.