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Game Preview: Dallas Cowboys vs Atlanta Falcons

Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire

Game Preview: Dallas Cowboys vs Atlanta Falcons

If you enjoy two solid offenses facing off against two not so solid defenses, Sunday’s matchup between the Dallas Cowboys and the Atlanta Falcons may be for you. Both teams are sitting at 0-1, with Dallas losing to the Los Angeles Rams, while Atlanta lost at home to the Seattle Seahawks.

It will be an early kickoff for Cowboy fans, getting underway from AT&T Stadium at noon CST. Broadcasted on Fox, Kevin Burkhardt, Daryl Johnston & Pam Oliver will have the call.

Dallas is currently favored by four points after opening the week as six point favorites. With more and more injuries arising for the Cowboys, expect that number to continue to drop closer to even.

Here is your Week 2 preview of the Dallas Cowboys vs the Atlanta Falcons.

Why Dallas wins

To be quite honest, Atlanta’s defense is not very good. Russell Wilson was Russell Wilson last week, completing 31 of 35 passes while having four touchdowns and zero interceptions. It led to a dominating offensive performance and resulted in 38 points for Seattle. Even in the 20 carries split between five players, the Seahawks averaged 4.3 yards per rush.

If the Cowboys want to win on Sunday, offensive coordinator Kellen Moore needs to let Dak Prescott be Dak Prescott and pass the ball around the field.  It was not something Prescott was able to do on Sunday night against the Rams. Too many times running back Ezekiel Elliot was given the ball on early downs before killing the drive.

Everything shown last week screamed of a Jason Garrett offense from the past decade. Your franchised tag quarterback needs to be given opportunities to shine, especially against a weakened defense at home. If Moore can realize that and make a change, the Cowboys are going to score a lot of points against the Falcons.

Why Atlanta wins

One thing the Rams did well on Sunday night was use its top two receivers, Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp, early in the play to eliminate the Cowboys’ pass rush. Now, the Falcons will come into Dallas with an even scarier wide receiver corps, highlighted by former Alabama stars, Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley.

Last week against Seattle, both Jones and Ridley had nine catches for a total of 287 yards. Ridley added two touchdowns in the fourth quarter. A young Cowboys’ secondary is going to struggle against the Falcons’ dynamic stars.

To make matters worse, Matt Ryan has found a new weapon in Russell Gage. The third-year receiver out of LSU had a career day, catching nine balls for 114 yards. If he isn’t an option, tight end Hayden Hurst could cause problems when matched up against a linebacker or safety.

Much like the Cowboys, Atlanta simply has too many options for a porous secondary to cover. Any period where Dallas’ pass rush is squandered as they were in the first quarter against Los Angeles and the Falcons will fly away with an easy victory.

Biggest question for Dallas

Everyone remembers the 2017 matchup in Atlanta where Dak Prescott got sacked eight times in a 27-7 loss. Well, the offensive line is banged up once again when facing off against the Falcons.

Right tackle has been a disaster so far this season, with both starter La’el Collins and third-stringer Cam Erving on IR. Terrance Steele, an undrafted rookie out of Texas Tech, started against the Rams and towards the end of the game was clearly struggling.

To make matters worse, starting left tackle Tyron Smith did not practice on Thursday. The All-Pro lineman has been dealing with a neck injury. Even though he is expected to play on Sunday, it is still frightening. The tackle position is razor-thin for the Cowboys, especially if Smith has to leave the game at any point with an injury.

When the Cowboys’ offense is successful, Prescott is taking shots further down the field to a plethora of receivers. Atlanta’s pass rush got to Russel Wilson three times last week. If Dallas’ tackles continue to struggle with health before kickoff, the Falcons could be in for another sack heavy game against the Cowboys.

Biggest question for Atlanta

Defensive tackle was a position that mightily struggled for the Cowboys against the Rams. Malcolm Brown had a solid day running it up the gut, having 79 yards and two touchdowns on 18 carries. Translating that to Atlanta and the former Rams superstar running back Todd Gurley will be looking to do the same on Sunday.

Against Seattle, Gurley ended with 14 carries for 54 yards and a touchdown. Because the Falcons were down most of the second half, Matt Ryan got a lot more passes reps than wanted. If Atlanta does build a lead, can Todd Gurley be relied on to efficiently run the ball and keep that clock rolling?

If he can, the Falcons offense is going to have a sound day all around. Ryan, Julio Jones, and Calvin Ridley are not going to be stopped. Gurley is going to be the key factor for Atlanta, especially if they are in a position where they need to manage the clock with a lead late in the second half. It was only 20 months ago Gurley ripped off 115 yards in a playoff game against the Cowboys.

Injuries

Five quick notes

  • This will be the Cowboys first home game of the season after finishing 5-3 at AT&T Stadium in 2019
  • Since taking over as the starting quarterback, Dak Prescott is 4-3 against NFC South opponents
  • Amari Cooper averaged 68.6 more yards per game at home compared to on the road
  • It has been since Oct. 25, 2009, that the Cowboys acquired back to back wins over Atlanta
  • Coming off a loss last season, Dallas was 4-4, winning by an average of 22.3 points and losing by an average of 7.5. Three of the wins were at home.
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