TNF Preview: New Orleans Saints (10-1) vs. Dallas Cowboys (6-5)

Updated: Aug 2, 2019


Photo Courtesy of Pat Pryor


Preview

With both the Saints and Cowboys playing on Thanksgiving Day, each team should be fully rested heading into Thursday's primetime matchup in Dallas. New Orleans, widely regarded as the best team in the league since beating the LA Rams in week 10, continue to ride their ten-game winning streak. Dallas, on the other hand, has found new life thanks to a three-game winning streak of their own that has launched them into first place in the NFC East after beating Washington a week ago. The intrigue in this matchup comes with each team playing to their strengths against one another. The Saints' defense, for example, gives up a league-best 73.6 rush yards/game, though this number could be partially due to other teams often playing in "catch-up mode" and being forced to pass more than usual. The Cowboys counter with a strength of their own, as they boast the NFL's 6th-best ground attack at 134.5 yards/game. On the other side, Drew Brees and the Saints' potent offense lead the league in scoring (37.2 ppg), while the Dallas defense ranks third in points allowed (19.4 ppg). Time to queue the old cliché, “something’s gotta give” for these in-game matchups.


Players to watch

It's no secret the Cowboys want to keep the ball out of Drew Brees' hands, who is playing at an MVP level with incredible efficiency (76% completion percentage, 29 TD/2 INT). To accomplish this, Dallas must run the ball early and often with Ezekiel Elliott, the NFL's current rushing leader. Dallas is 5-1 this season when Elliott rushes for more than 100 yards, and he has averaged 131 yards/game during their current three-game winning streak. Another key matchup will be between Cowboys CB Byron Jones and Saints WR Michael Thomas. Through 12 weeks, Jones is the top rated corner in the game and Thomas ranks second amongst wide receivers, according to Pro Football Focus. One other position worth keeping an eye on for each team is left tackle. Saints’ starter Terron Armstead will miss his third straight game with a shoulder injury, so Jermon Bushrod will be counted on once again. Dallas’ starter Tyron Smith is questionable (neck) after missing last week’s game and will likely be a game-time decision. If Smith can’t go, Cameron Fleming will start in his place, who did a serviceable job against the Redskins.


Keys to the game

New Orleans Saints

-Score early, put Dallas in a hole

-Keep the Cowboys’ defense honest

-Focus on slowing down Zeke


Dallas Cowboys

-Control the clock, keep the ball out of Brees’ hands

-Feed Zeke early and often

-Don’t give up big plays/make New Orleans drive the field


Injury list

New Orleans Saints

Terron Armstead, OT - Pectoral (Out)


Dallas Cowboys

Tavon Austin, WR - Groin (Out)

David Irving, DT - Ankle (Out)

Maliek Collins, DT - Knee (Questionable)

Geoff Swaim, TE - Wrist (Out)

Sean Lee, LB - Hamstring (Out)

Xavier Su'a-Filo, G - Ankle (Questionable)

ZacK Martin, G - Knee (Questionable)

Tyron Smith, T - Neck (Questionable)


Top 5 Fantasy Players

Ezekiel Elliott, RB (DAL)

Alvin Kamara, RB (NO)

Drew Brees, QB (NO)

Michael Thomas, WR (NO)

Amari Cooper, WR (DAL)


Prediction

The way in which this game flows will be a significant indicator of the outcome. A back-and-forth, high scoring shootout certainly favors New Orleans with their ability to put points on the board in a hurry. Dallas, on the contrary, clearly prefers a slower pace by running the ball on offense to control the clock and keep their speedy defense (and pass rush) as fresh as possible. With that said, whichever team is able to establish and dictate the pace of the game first will be in great position for a win, and if that's the case, it's hard to bet against Drew Brees. Dallas keeps it interesting, but New Orleans put the game away late.


Final Score: Saints 33, Cowboys 24


Written by: Greg Lehr

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