Bills at Cowboys Prediction: Can Dallas Leap Over a Magic Thanksgiving Number?
ARLINGTON - America seems to be overlooking the 8-3 Buffalo Bills. "America's Team'' isn't nearly good enough to make that same mistake - and I don't think will, despite all the bright-and-shiny objects that offer up so many Thanksgiving Day distractions.
"We're used to it,'' All-Pro guard Zack Martin said, and he'd better be right. Because if this team is knocked around mentally and emotionally due to all of the heat on it and the Jason Garrett-led coaching staff ...
Imagine the heat if the 6-5 Cowboys lose a home game to a seven-point underdog?
The threats begin with QB Josh Allen, a mobile and assertive runner. He teams in the backfield with the elusive youngster Devin Singletary, who in last week’s win over Denver turned 22 touches into 114 yards. Behind him is likely future Hall-of-Famer Frank Gore ... both of them maybe licking their chops against a Dallas defense that, per Evan Silva, in the past three weeks has allowed the NFL’s fourth-most catches per game to running backs (6.2 per game).
The past three weeks have ben troublesome in another way for Dallas, as Garrett's gang has been exposed as confused, sloppy in detail, overmatched in "the fundamentals of coaching'' - that last one in owner Jerry Jons' own words, about as venomous evaluation as a boss can give an employee.
The Cowboys need to avoid confusion on special teams (Dallas is, not necessarily by all the numbers but surely via The Eye Test the NFL's worst) and they need to manage Bills receivers John Brown and Cole Beasley. Brown gets behind coverages while former Cowboy Beasley gets open underneath them - and Beas has big numbers in five of the last six games, too.
To top it all off regarding the Cowboys' defensive concerns, they will be without run stoppers Leighton Vander Esch (neck) and Antwaun Woods (knee) while safety Jeff Heath will try to play with two damaged shoulders.
Can the Cowboys outscore the Bills? Buffalo's defense focuses on stopping the pass, which makes the matchup between Amari Cooper (shut out in last week's loss at New England) and cornerback Tre’Davious White a juicy one. (Buffalo's other corner is the slowish Levi Wallace.
The Cowboys should be able to run Ezekiel Elliott here; Buffalo's pass-defense focus almost allows it as they rarely put eight men in the box. But that won't prevent struggles from QB Dak Prescott, who is going to face a defense that comes in ranking No. 7 in the NFL in sack rate (8.1 percent and No. 11 in QB Hit Rate (16.5 percent).
In the end, Buffalo only once all year has allowed a team to exceed 21 points in a game. Today, Dallas needs to be team No. 2 in that department ... so it can remain team No. 1 in the NFC East. Prediction: Dallas 24, Bills 23.