Dallas continues big-game struggles

Posted 11/26/19

The Dallas Cowboys continued to struggle against formidable opponents with a 13-9 loss to the New England Patriots on a wet night in Foxboro, Mass. Sunday.

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Dallas continues big-game struggles

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The Dallas Cowboys continued to struggle against formidable opponents with a 13-9 loss to the New England Patriots on a wet night in Foxboro, Mass. Sunday. Dallas is now 6-5 and hanging on to a slim lead in the NFC East (6-1 against teams under .500, 0-4 against teams above). 
The Cowboys failed to find the end zone for the first time in 2019 and wide receiver Amari Cooper was held without a catch for the first time in a Dallas uniform. This was due to the dominance of New England corner Stephon Gilmore, a strong candidate for the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year distinction.

It was always going to be a tall order to ask Dak Prescott and the Dallas offense to find success against the best defense in football on their home turf, and the rainy conditions only added to their issues. If New England’s defense has a potential weakness, it is in the run game.

The Cowboys were able to run for 109 yards on 26 carries (4.2 yards per carry), 86 of which came courtesy of Ezekiel Elliot. But the offense could never capitalize their drives with touchdowns despite keeping Tom Brady and the struggling New England offense at bay. The only touchdown of the game came after a blocked punt set up the Patriots up inside the 10-yard line.

The Patriots remained in control of the top seed in the AFC playoff picture at 10-1 and two games ahead of the Buffalo Bills in the AFC East.

Bill Belichick’s defense appears to be setting records on a daily basis, but Brady and the offense will have to come alive if they expect to make another playoff push. With a struggling offensive line and the retirement of Rob Gronkowski, the run game has suffered mightily.

The defense is showing no signs of slowing, but it is hard to believe they would keep Pat Mahomes or Lamar Jackson out of the end zone in a playoff game.

The good news is that the Patriots are almost unbeatable in New England and are on a collision course with yet another top seed in the postseason.

The Cowboys, meanwhile, will have to grind it out with the Philadelphia Eagles for the NFC East title. Dallas currently has a one-game lead and the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Eagles, but they will travel to Philadelphia on Dec. 22 for a matchup that could define the season.

Dallas will battle the 8-3 Buffalo Bills at home on Thanksgiving afternoon. The Bills, who have impressed this season with a stingy defense and impressive play from young quarterback Josh Allen, currently hold the AFC’s top wildcard spot.

The Cowboys will finish the year against the Chicago Bears, Los Angeles Rams, Philly and Washington.

The 5-6 Eagles, meanwhile, have one of the easiest remaining schedules in the NFL with matchups against the Miami Dolphins, New York Giants, Washington, Dallas and New York.

The Houston Texans stayed atop the AFC South with a critical victory over the Indianapolis Colts at NRG Stadium Thursday. Houston has now split the season series with the Colts and lead them by one game with a record of 7-4.

Will Fuller exploded back onto the scene with 140 receiving yards on seven catches from Deshaun Watson. It was DeAndre Hopkins, however, who hauled in both of Watson’s touchdown passes.

The Houston defense recovered a pair of fumbles en route to a much-needed, 20-17 divisional win. The victory also allowed the Texans to stay on top of the Tennessee Titans (6-5), who defeated the Jacksonville Jaguars 42-20 Sunday.

Houston will remain at NRG Stadium and host the Patriots on Sunday night. They will conclude their season with matchups against the Denver Broncos, Titans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Titans.

The San Francisco 49ers improved to 10-1 and remained in control of the top seed in the NFC with a dominant 37-8 victory over the Green Bay Packers. They also maintained their slim lead over the Seattle Seahawks (9-2), who handed them their only loss on Nov. 11.

The Green Bay loss gives the New Orleans Saints (9-2) current control over the conference’s second playoff bye. The Saints edged the Panthers 34-31 in a divisional matchup at the Superdome Sunday.

With the ultimate lesser of Seattle and San Francisco pegged for the top wildcard, the race for the final playoff seed in the NFC is extremely competitive. The Minnesota Vikings (8-3) are currently second-tier to the Packers due to a head-to-head loss, but enjoy a two-game lead in the race for the six seed.

Other outside hopefuls for the six seed in the NFC are the Rams (6-5), Panthers (5-6), Bears (5-6) and the loser of the NFC East race between the Cowboys and Eagles.

In the AFC, Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens are hot on New England’s trail for the conference’s top seed. Another decisive victory over the Rams on Monday marked seven straight wins for the explosive Ravens.

Baltimore will finish their season with a pair of tough matchups, but they have already delivered the Patriots their only loss of the year and one of Seattle’s two losses. They will capture the top seed in the AFC if they can with the same amount of games as New England.

The AFC West is currently controlled by Pat Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs (7-4) with the Oakland Raiders (6-5) not far behind.

With Buffalo seemingly in command of the first available wildcard, a flurry of 6-5 and 5-6 teams are vying for the six seed. Teams in contention for the final wildcard include the Raiders, Colts, Titans, Steelers and Browns. At 4-7, the Jets, Chargers and Jaguars still stand an outside chance, as well.

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