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Two historic franchises meet for the 15th time in the regular season. The New England Patriots (1-2) go on the road to take on the Dallas Cowboys (2-1).
Two weeks ago, the Cowboys' hype was high due to high-caliber domination by the Cowboys' defense after stellar wins over the New York Giants and the New York Jets. The hype came back down to Earth after the season-ending injury to star cornerback Trevon Diggs and the Cowboys' shocking week three loss to the Arizona Cardinals 28-16.
The Patriots started the season with two losses. They were, however, one-possession scores to the top two undefeated NFC and AFC teams in the Philadelphia Eagles and Miami Dolphins, respectively. New England was able to get their first win of the season last week at the New York Jets 15-10.
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The Cowboys started the season with a tremendous display of their defensive dominance. Outside linebacker Micah Parsons continues to play at an elite level as he has accounted for eight quarterback hits, five tackles for loss, and four sacks. Dallas is also seeing a complete performance from the defensive line, linebacker corp, and the secondary. This past week against the Cardinals, their first game without Diggs, was the most vulnerability the Cowboys have shown. Dallas ranks in the top four of scoring defense, total defense, and passing defense.
New England's offense needed a wake-up call after seeing second-year quarterback Mac Jones take a step back last season. Most of the blame can go on the fact that Matt Patricia, a defensive coach, was the offensive coordinator last season. This year, new offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien is taking serious measures to improve the offense, something head coach Bill Belichick didn't do in 2022. There is still a long way to go to increase productivity and scoring, but there are some good results. They are an offense that likes to win matchups. Having former Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliot in the backfield helps.
The Patriots' defense ranks in the top ten of all major defensive categories. They are seeing elite playmaking from outside linebacker Matthew Judon and rookie cornerback Christian Gonzalez. New England has established a whole roster full of capable playmakers who can consistently win matchups and establish their roles.
Dallas' offense started the season hot as they were assisted by the elite play of the defense. The Cowboys were showing they could play aggressively to the running game rather than rely on the arm of quarterback Dak Prescott. Much like several losses last season, it was the arm and mental mistakes of Prescott that caused the offense to stall. The Cowboys rank fifth in points per game (28.7) and 11th in total yards per game (354.3). They are, however, facing an aggressive Patriots defense that makes opponents make mistakes either on third down or turnovers. Prescott and the Cowboys' offense have to avoid critical turnovers to avoid a second consecutive loss.
Elliot is playing in his first game back in AT&T Stadium since being released by the Cowboys. The Patriots are likely going to give Elliot more carries with this game meaning more to him. He will look to have some angry breakout runs.
Two weeks ago in the Cowboys' 30-10 win over the Jets, quarterback Dak Prescott threw for 255 on 38 passing attempts. The Cowboys are going to be more conservative on offense against a Patriots' defense that likes to force turnovers and mistakes.
The loss of Diggs is big, but the Cowboys are still solid in their front seven. They will look for a rebound performance after the bad loss to the Cardinals last week. New England’s offense is still trying to find its form going forward a long season.
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Michael Hanich is a sports journalist/analyst with a wide variety of experience in the newspaper and digital field. He has a love for all sports. The leagues that he covers are College Football, the NFL, the NBA, the NHL, College Basketball (men’s and women’s), the MLB, Lacrosse, Volleyball, and the WNBA.More info on Michael Hanich
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