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What: Dallas Cowboys at New Orleans Saints
When: Sunday, September 29 at 8:20 p.m. ET
Where: Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana
How (TV): NBC
Latest point spread: Cowboys -2.5, Saints +2.5
In one of the most intriguing matchups of Week 4, the undefeated Dallas Cowboys travel to New Orleans to take on the Saints, who are currently without their future Hall of Fame quarterback Drew Brees, sidelined with an injury to the thumb on his throwing hand.
Saints’ backup quarterback, Teddy Bridgewater, is under center for the meantime and he proved that he can get the job done last week, leading his Saints to a victory against the Seattle Seahawks while Dak Prescott led his Cowboys to their third win against an easy Miami Dolphins.
Let’s take a quick look at how these two teams are set up for their Week 4 matchups.
With arguably one of the league’s best running backs, Ezekiel Elliott, running behind one of the better front lines in football, the undefeated Dallas Cowboys look to be in midseason form already with all three aspects of their game doing well these last three weeks.
Add to that mix Dak Prescott, the league’s 6th most productive quarterback, throwing to sure-handed receiver Amari Cooper and recently un-retired tight end Jason Witten, and this offense is tough to outscore.
The Cowboys’ defense is middle of the road right now, ranked 15th, but they were a top-ten unit last season so it will be just a matter of time before coordinator Rod Marinelli can get them on par with the rest of this 2019 team.
Will the Cowboys make it to the playoffs? Check out our article on the Dallas Cowboys Postseason.
You have to hand it to the New Orleans Saints – their best player, Brees, goes down, and without missing a beat they toss Bridgewater in and he throws for 2 touchdowns and a win and ends up with a quarterback rating of 112.7.
Of course, the key to the Saints offense is running back Alvin Kamara, who is just as dangerous catching the ball and running with it as he is from out of the backfield, last week with 39 total touches for 217 yards but no touchdowns.
New Orleans’ defense is their biggest weak spot, ranked 28th in the league right now, but with defensive end Cameron Jordan leading the way (he already has 2.0 sacks and four quarterback hits), they are bound to put up a decent stand at home.
These two teams have met 29 total times, with New Orleans winning 12 of those games and Dallas winning 17 times.
The Cowboys defeated the Saints in their last matchup that took place in November of the 2018 season when Dallas won by a score of 13-10.
If the Cowboys win this matchup, they’ll move to 4-0-0 and stay atop the NFC East where they seem to be the only real deal these days.
But if the Saints come out on top, then they’ll move to 3-1-0 and stay at least one game away from all the other NFC South teams, who all went into Week 4 with a 1-2 record.
Who’s favored to win this Week 4 Cowboys-Saints matchup?
Which team has a better offense? Defense? Special teams?
Which team’s quarterback is more likely to lead his team to victory?
We’re going to briefly compare the Cowboys and the Saints next and attempt to answer those questions and more.
Passing attack: The Dallas Cowboys have the 4th best passing game right now, averaging 301.9 yards through the air per game.
Prescott is playing well, currently the 6th best quarterback in the league, now with 70 completions for 920 yards and 9 touchdowns with 2 interceptions.
The Cowboys leading receiver after three weeks is Amari Cooper, who has 16 catches for 238 yards and 4 touchdowns, ranked 21st among receivers.
Rushing attack: The Cowboys’ rushing attack is the 3rd best in the NFL, averaging 179.0 yards on the ground each game.
Elliott looks fresh out of the backfield, so far with 60 total touches for 322 yards from scrimmage and 2 touchdowns, averaging 5.4 yards per touch, 5.3 yards per carry.
Dallas has scored 97 points this season, or 32.3 per game, which is the 4th best total in the league.
Listed as questionable for Week 4: wide receivers Tavon Austin (concussion) and Amari Cooper (ankle)
Injury notes: wide receiver Noah Brown (knee) is listed as PUP-R, wide receiver Michael Gallup (knee – meniscus) is listed as OUT, while receivers Jon’Vea Johnson (shoulder) and Lance Lenoir (knee) have been placed on injured reserve.
Passing attack: New Orleans has the 17th ranked passing attack right now after averaging 242.0 yards through the air every game.
Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater has done a thoroughly decent job stepping in for the injured Brees, and in one-and-a-half games has completed 36 passes for 342 yards and 2 touchdowns with no interceptions.
The Saints’ best receiver is Michael Thomas, who has caught 25 passes for 266 yards and a touchdown in three games.
Rushing attack: New Orleans has the 19th ranked rushing attack, averaging 97.7 yards per game.
Alvin Kamara is their best runner and currently, the 10th best in the NFL with 42 carries for 211 yards, averaging 5.0 yards per carry, also with 9 catches for 92 yards and 2 total touchdowns on the season.
New Orleans has scored 72 points this season, or 24.0 per game, which is the 11th best total in the league.
Listed as questionable for Week 4: wide receiver Tre’ Quan Smith (ankle), center Will Clapp (hand) and offensive tackle Terron Armstead (knee) and guard Larry Warford (shoulder).
Injury notes: quarterback Drew Brees (thumb) is listed as OUT while wide receiver Keith Kirkwood (hamstring), tight end Garrett Griffen (undisclosed) and center Cameron Tom (undisclosed) have been placed on injured reserve.
With all their weapons in shape, the Dallas Cowboys definitely have the offensive edge in this one.
Pass coverage: The Cowboys have the 15th best pass attack, averaging 246.0 yards through the air per game.
Dallas’ defense has yet to pull down an interception, but they have 5 sacks total.
Run coverage: The Cowboys are the 10th best team against the run right now, allowing opponents to run for 90.0 yards per game.
Dallas has allowed their opponents to score 44 total points, which is 4th least in the NFL.
Keep a lookout for middle linebacker Jaylon Smith, who is currently leading his Cowboys in tackles with 27.
Defensive end Demarcus Lawrence is a quarterback hunting beast with 1.5 sacks, 5 quarterback hits, 4 tackles, a forced fumble and 2 fumble recoveries.
Linebacker Leighton Vander Esch is a real talent worth watching, so far with 21 tackles, a quarterback hit, half a sack, 2 passes defended and a forced fumble.
Check out our article on Most NFL Sacks in 2019.
Listed as questionable for Week 4: defensive tackle Tyrone Crawford (hip), defensive tackle Antwaun Woods (knee), linebacker Luke Gifford (ankle) and safety Xavier Woods
Injury notes: defensive end Randy Gregory (suspension) is listed as OUT, while defensive end Jalen Jelks (undisclosed), defensive tackle Daniel Ross (shoulder) and cornerback Chris Wetry (undisclosed) have been placed on injured reserve.
Pass coverage: The Saints’ defense is 30th against the pass, allowing opponents to throw for an average of 301.7 yards per game.
New Orleans has only once intercepted an opposing quarterback and they have 9 total sacks after three weeks.
Run coverage: The Saints are 26th best against the run, allowing opponents to rush for an average of 134.3 yards per game.
New Orleans has allowed their opponents to score 82 total points, which is 7th most in the NFL.
The best tackler on the Saints right now is strong safety Vonn Bell, who has 21 tackles to his name this season, plus a fumble recovery for a touchdown.
Definitely watch for defensive end Trey Hendrickson, who has 3.0 sacks already with 3 quarterback hits, 8 tackles, and a forced fumble.
Free safety Marcus Williams owns the Saints’ secondary, so far with an interception, 3 passes defended and 11 tackles.
Listed as questionable for Week 4: defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins (Achilles)
Injury notes: linebacker Chase Hansen is listed as NFI while linebackers Alex Anzalone (shoulder), Kaden Elliss (knee), Colton Jumper (undisclosed) and Josh Martin (shoulder – labrum) have all been placed on injured reserve.
These are not two of the league’s premier defenses right now, but of the two, the Dallas Cowboys have better numbers so they will have the advantage on Sunday despite playing away from home.
Dallas’ veteran punter, Chris Jones, is in his ninth NFL season, all with the Cowboys, and this season he has punted 9 times for a net average of 42.4 yards per punt, which was the 16th best in the league.
New Orleans’ punter, Thomas Morstead, is in his eleventh NFL season, all with the Saints, and this season he has punted 13 times for a net average of 46.3 yards per punt, which was the 2nd best in the league.
Dallas’ placekicker, Brett Maher, is in his second NFL season, both with the Cowboys.
Maher has made 2-of-3 field goals this season, his longest a 28 yarder, and so far, he has missed no extra point attempts (13/13).
New Orleans’ placekicker, Wil Lutz, is in his fourth NFL season, all with the Saints.
Lutz has gone 6-of-7 in 2019, his longest a 58-yarder and he has missed one extra point attempt (6/7).
Dallas’ punt returner, wide receiver Tavon Austin, hasn’t returned a punt yet in 2019 due to injury (concussion) and he is listed as questionable for this Week 4 game (see above).
The Cowboys have used wide receivers Ced Wilson (2 returns for 13 yards, 6.5 yards per return, ranked 23rd) and Randall Cobb (1 return for 4.0 yards, 4 yards per return, ranked 30th).
New Orleans’ punt returner, wide receiver Deonte Harris, is ranked 7th in average punt return yardage this season.
Harris returned 9 punts for 107 yards, averaging 11.9 yards per return, his longest for a 53-yard touchdown.
The Saints have a better punter and a more experienced placekicker, so they have the advantage in Week 4.
The Dallas Cowboys will win this matchup because they are on a roll, at midseason form and the Saints are without their leader, Drew Brees, so it will be relatively easy for defensive coordinator Marinelli to cook up an effective game plan.
And if the Cowboys can limit Kamara’s and Thomas’ production and force Bridgewater to improvise, they will easily outscore this Saints team who have the lesser defense of the two.
Head coach Jason Garrett seems to have figured out the game-winning formula for these Cowboys this season, but it may all stem from owner / general (and micro) manager Jerry Jones’ willingness to pay his playmakers what they’re worth and a little more.
If you saw how Teddy Bridgewater did filling in for Brees in Weeks 2 and 3, having him under center becomes less of a concern, the 26-year old posting a 112.7 passer rating in Week 3 when it really counted.
Kamara needs a big game on Sunday for the Saints to beat these Cowboys, a day that includes more than just one touchdown (his current total in three weeks), and if he plays as the dangerous dual-threat he is capable of being it will open up other Saints players on the field, like Thomas and tight end Jared Cook.
The New Orleans Saints will win this game because it is at home, where they are 1-0 this season and were 6-2 last year, the hometown crowd incredibly loud inside the covered Superdome.
By nine, because their offensive scoring machine and defensive superiority will be too much for a Saints team still adjusting to its temporary new quarterback.
John Breech of CBS Sports takes the over and predicts the score as Cowboys 27, Saints 23.
My prediction is take the over, final score Cowboys 30, Saints 21.
Mike Lukas is a retired standup comedian turned freelance writer now living in Dallas, Texas, originally from Cleveland, Ohio. His love for the game of football and all things Cleveland Browns turned Mike into a pro blogger years ago. Now Mike enjoys writing about all thirty-two NFL teams, hoping to help football gamblers gain a slight edge in their pursuit of the perfect wager. Email: [email protected]More info on Mike Lukas
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