Monday Night Football Preview: Tennessee Titans (3-4) vs. Dallas Cowboys (3-4)


Photo Courtesy of Pat Pryor

Preview

Fresh off a bye week and an extra day of rest, the Tennessee Titans visit the Dallas Cowboys in a matchup of two 3-4 teams desperately needing a win to gain some positive momentum as they head into the second half of the season. Both teams have struggled mightily on the offensive side of the ball, as the Cowboys and Titans come into the game ranked 29th and 31st, respectively, in total offense after eight weeks. Dallas chose to make a couple of notable adjustments in their week off, trading a first-round pick to the Oakland Raiders for their 2x Pro Bowl WR Amari Cooper and firing offensive line coach Paul Alexander after just seven games with the team. Outside of signing fullback Jalston Fowler, the Titans stood pat since their loss to the Chargers in London, showing faith in first-year play-caller Matt LaFleur to find some answers with Marcus Mariota and the rest of the offense.


Players to watch

On the home side, there will undoubtedly be eyes on Amari Cooper in his debut wearing the star. He has worked with the Cowboys’ receivers coach Sanjay Lal during the bye week to try to get up to speed in a new system and look to make an early impact. It will also be interesting to see if his presence loosens up the box for Ezekiel Elliott to find a little more room, as Elliott continues to be the engine of the offense. For the Titans, Marcus Mariota is under the spotlight after a poor start to an important year for the former #2 overall pick. Mariota currently has thrown for just 3 TDs compared to 5 INTs so far this season, as Tennessee's passing offense ranks 30th in the league. Dion Lewis, coming off his best appearance of the season two weeks ago against the Chargers (155 total yds), needs to continue being a threat as a receiver out of the backfield with Dallas allowing just 3.47 yds/carry to opposing backs (2nd in the league).


Keys to the Game

Tennessee Titans

  • Force Prescott to get rid of the ball early

  • Get Dion Lewis the ball in space

  • Find a way to create an explosive play

Dallas Cowboys

  • Establish Amari Cooper early to open up the box for Elliott

  • Keep Mariota in the pocket

  • Get the Titans behind the chains/long 3rd-downs


Injury list

Tennessee Titans

  • Will Compton, LB - Hamstring (Questionable)

Dallas Cowboys

  • David Irving, DT - Ankle (Out)

  • Joe Thomas, LB - Foot (Out)

  • Tavon Austin. WR - Groin (Out)

  • Geoff Swaim, TE - Knee (Doubtful)

  • Randy Gregory, DE - Knee (Questionable)


Top 5 Fantasy Players

  • Ezekiel Elliott, RB (DAL)

  • Dion Lewis, RB (TEN)

  • Cole Beasley, WR (DAL)

  • Dak Prescott, QB (DAL)

  • Tajae Sharpe, WR (TEN)


Prediction

There’s a lot of buzz in Dallas this week with the Amari Cooper trade, offensive line coaching change, and of course Jason Witten back in town as an ESPN announcer for Monday Night Football. While it may take a quarter or so for the home team to settle down, Tennessee simply is not explosive enough on offense to put Dallas in too big of a hole to overcome. In what should be a smash-mouth game for much of the evening, expect Elliott to run better as the game goes on and for the Dallas defense to hold true to their high rankings against Mariota. Tennessee continues looking for answers on offense as they lose their fourth straight game and the Cowboys get a tough, much-needed win to keep pace in the NFC East.


Final Score: Cowboys 27, Titans 19


Written by: Greg Lehr