At the start of the 2016 season, the Dallas Cowboys were hell-bent on making up for the 4-12 year they endured before. With a new weapon in Ezekiel Elliot to pair alongside Tony Romo, Dez Bryant and Jason Witten, Dallas looked as if they were ready to embark on a run similar to 2014. Ironically, that year did turn a new page for the Dallas Cowboys, but it closed some old chapters as well.
The first-time fans saw that 2016 team take the field was August 13 in LA Memorial Coliseum. However, the offense wasn’t spearheaded by Romo on that day. A fourth-round draft pick by the name of Dakota Prescott stormed the field accompanied by Bryant, Terrance Williams and Geoff Swaim.
Prescott finished 10-of-12 for 139 yards, 2 touchdowns and no picks. Pretty decent day for the rookie backup quarterback. Cowboys writers and reporters were pleasantly shocked as they saw a quarterback who lacked proper mechanics, footwork and consistent accuracy all throughout training camp. But when he walked off the field in Los Angeles the Cowboys held a 24-7 lead at the end of the first.
Little did we know then that despite this guy’s flaws he can get it done when his number is called on. In like manner, Prescott has a chance to prove once again the type of player he is. And he will be called to do it in the same place he first got his opportunity.
Today, Prescott returns to LA Memorial Coliseum with Elliot, Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup against a defense that is layered with star talent. Defensive lineman Aaron Donald led the league in sacks with 20.5 and is widely regarded as the best defensive player in all of football. Beside him is Ndamukong Suh and Michael Brockers who both would present problems for any team, regardless if Donald was present or not. Mid-season acquisition Dante Fowler was once a top-5 draft selection as well, so his talent is not to be slept on. Rookie John-Franklin Meyers is a rotational piece that has the talent to get up the field as well.
Despite the plethora of defensive linemen LA can send out, they have repeatedly been gashed by offenses who are formidable in the run game. 11 times did their opponents rush for at least 95 yards. Nine times those totals went for over 100. Five teams were able to eclipse 140 yards. In Seattle’s two games against them, they had a total of 463 yards rushing. It is why so many analysts believed this is the matchup the Cowboys would favor as opposed to traveling to New Orleans.
On the back end, defensive backs Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib have the ability to find their way to the ball with ease. Though Talib has been sidelined for the most of the season due to injury, a 99-yard pick-six in Mile High last year is surely still embedded in this teams head. Peters has been getting picked on all season, but having Talib return alleviates some of the pressure opposing offenses constantly through his way.
Though a teams have had their way with LA this season, there is still a reason this Rams team only lost three games. And that reason is on the other side of the ball. 32.9/game and 421.1 total yards/game both rank second in the league. Their 281.7 passing yards/game and 139.4 rushing yards/game sit them at fifth and third in the league, respectively.
As flashy as the Rams have looked this season stopping Todd Gurley remains a must for this Cowboys defense. LA is 8-0 when they rush for at least 100 yards. They’re 5-3 sub-100-yard rushing days. They’ve posted 13 30+ scoring outings on the year, while the Cowboys defense didn’t allow a team to score 30 points on them until week 17. It’ll be a tough ask of this Cowboys defense, but we’ve seen then overcome obstacles before. All we can ask now is for them to “Finish This Fight.”
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