This week the New England Patriots take on America’s Team in the Dallas Cowboys. It is a game that is incredibly huge for both teams. New England needs it to stay ahead of the red-hot Baltimore Ravens for the AFC’s top seed. The Cowboys need the game to stay in first place in the NFC East.
Let's go over the three keys that will help New England come out with a victory over Dallas Sunday afternoon.
1) Time to Wynn
2018 first round pick Isaiah Wynn was recently activated off the IR and has a chance to play in Week 12. This is incredibly huge news. The offensive has had their share of struggles. Marshall Newhouse has struggled mightily at the left tackle position this season and Isaiah Wynn is an immediate upgrade. Having great play at left tackle can help open up the struggling offense.
Tom Brady has been running for his life every time he drops back to pass. Last week vs. Philadelphia Brady had no time in the pocket, and it led to 14 incompletions in the first half, which is the most incompletions Brady has thrown in a half in his career.
The more time the offensive line can give Brady allows receivers like N’Keal Harry time to run vertical routes and take the top off the defense, to borrow a phrase from Randy Moss. Wynn will hopefully give Brady that kind of time.
2) Contain, Confuse Dak Prescott
Dak Prescott has thrown his name into the MVP conversation by putting up incredible numbers this season. The Cowboys offense used to be powered by running back Ezekiel Elliott, but this season Dallas’ best player has been Prescott. Prescott has thrown 21 touchdowns and 3,221 yards. Prescott has the best compliment of weapons the Patriots have faced this year in Elliot, Amari Cooper, Randall Cobb, and Michael Gallup.
While Prescott is not the running threat that Lamar Jackson is, he will not hesitate to tuck it and run. Whatever lessons the Patriots learned in defending the run-pass option in Week 9 can be used this Sunday vs. Dallas. Keeping Prescott inside the pocket while continually making him guess pre-snap will be the key to shutting down Dallas' offense.
3) Let Jake Bailey do Jake Bailey things
That’s right. New England's punter is the third key to a victory this week for the Patriots.
Bailey is coming off a week where he won AFC Special Teams player of the week. The rookie punter has been great this season and has allowed the Patriots to win the field position battle. With the offense struggling to put up points and sustain drives, Bailey’s ability to pin opposing teams inside the 20 has been tremendous and extremely helpful for the 9-1 reigning Super Bowl champions.
If Bailey can pin Prescott and the Cowboys offense inside their own 20 yard line and force them to work with a long field early and often, that will be the remedy to success for the Patriots as they try to snag their 10th win of the season.