We know the Dallas Cowboys offensive success all stems from the play of their offensive line. Last year, the Cowboys were abused by former Atlanta Falcons defensive end Adrian Clayborn who single-handedly disrupted the flow of the Cowboys offense. Neither Clayborn nor his partner-in-crime Chaz Green, will make an appearance at Mercedez-Benz Stadium Sunday afternoon. Instead, there will be a changing of the guard of whom our eyes will be fixated on. Xavier Su’a-Filo makes his second start this season after a solid outing against the Eagles front four. Su’a-Filo will line up across another disruptive defensive tackle in Grady Jarrett, who is ranked the 12th best DT through 10 weeks by Pro Football Focus. Su’a-Filo gave the Cowboys a solid presence at left guard last week and will need to continue stacking good games together if the Cowboys have any hopes of winning this division.
Atlanta has a multitude of outside weapons in which Quarterback Matt Ryan can get the ball to. The number one threat to this Dallas secondary will be All-Pro wide receiver, Julio Jones. Jones has certainly hit his mid-season form as he has posted four-straight games of a 100-yards receiving. Lined up across from him will be breakout-cornerback Bryon Jones, who has finally found his true position in this defense. When Kris Richard explained why he was moving Jones to corner it was for receivers like Julio. At 6’3 220, Julio presents a challenge for any secondary and may invoke the Cowboys to have Byron travel with an opposing team’s number-one receiver for the first time this season. Other options such as rookie Calvin Ridley and Mohammed Sanu will also test the Cowboy’s defensive backs.
Among many of the early season problems for the Dallas Cowboys was the play of La’el Collins. Collins play has dipped significantly from what Cowboys fans hoped he could be coming off of his 2017 campaign. This week he will tackle the challenge of blocking Atlanta defensive end, Takkarist McKinley. McKinley began his sophomore year on a tear. He had 4.5 sacks through three games but has only netted 1 in their past three outing. His hot streak has cooled down, so it will be imperative for Collins to not let him get back in his groove against them.
Leighton Vander Esch
Due to his recent performances, Leighton Vander Esch will always have the world’s eyes glued to him. Up until this point, it seems he has proved he was worth a first-round selection. He has already proved to be a playmaker in the passing game and will draw the task of neutralizing Tight End Austin Hooper this week. Among the slew of weapons the Falcons can throw at you Hooper has been Matt Ryan’s second-favorite target. His state line for the season sits at 46 receptions, 418 yards and three touchdowns. He’s coming off of a 10 reception game against the Browns, but only amassed 56 yards receiving. When team’s attempt to take away Ryan’s deep threats Hooper finds a way to take advantage of what’s open underneath. This is where the awareness and reaction speed of Vander Esch will play a vital role this afternoon.
This seems like an obvious here and it is. Cowboys have only lost one game this season when Ezekiel Elliott averages at least 4 yards a carry. Falcons have only won twice when opposing teams lead back averages the same. No need to get deep. If Zeke explodes the Cowboys have a high percentage of winning.
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