The Patriots are coming into Week 12 of the NFL regular season red hot, with a 9-1 record and one of the league’s best defenses. However, the Patriots have a difficult task ahead of them this weekend, as they take on a tough Dallas Cowboys team.
While the Cowboys record may stand at just 6-4, they are a difficult matchup for the Patriots. So if you haven’t been watching Cowboys football this season, here are four facts to know about them.
The Cowboys are an elite passing team
Lamar Jackson of the Ravens and Russell Wilson of the Seahawks have been dominating headlines this season for their MVP level of play. But Cowboys’ quarterback Dak Prescott is having just as good, if not a better season in 2019. Prescott leads the NFL in passing yards, throwing for 3,221 yards in 10 games. Prescott is also second in passing touchdowns with 21, first in yards per attempt at 8.8, and eighth in completion percentage among quarterbacks with at least five starts at 67.7 percent.
This potent passing attack has made the Cowboys one of the most dangerous teams in the NFL, racking up the most total yards on offense in the league, and the sixth most total points scored. This offense will prove to be one of the most difficult challenges the Patriots defense will have all season.
Ezekiel Elliot leads a potent rushing attack
The Cowboys offense is anchored by their passing offense, but their ground game isn’t something to sleep on. Their rushing attack is led by All-Pro running back Ezekiel Elliot, who has a total of 833 yards on the ground, which is good for ninth in the NFL. Prescott can be dangerous with his legs too, having racked up 193 rushing yards. Between those two and backup running back Tony Pollard, who has 238 rushing yards, the Cowboys have the seventh-most rushing yards in the NFL.
Elliot is someone the Patriots will have to be heavily concerned with this Sunday. Over his four years, this is actually Elliot’s worst season so far in the NFL. Elliot rushed for more than 1,400 yards in both 2016 and 2018 and just missed 1,000 yards in 2017 when he played in only 10 games. Through 10 games this season Elliot is trailing his 2017 total 833 to 983. Elliot has been more successful getting into the endzone, through 10 games he has seven rushing touchdowns, tied for the second-most in his career.
The defense is seventh in the NFL in points allowed
It’s not just the offense that the Patriots will have to worry about, the Cowboys defense is very good as well. The Cowboys are sixth in the NFL in yards given up, only giving up 3,221 total yards this season. They’ve also only allowed a total of 197 points, which is good for seventh in the NFL. No matter which way you attack the Cowboys defense, you may not have much success. The Cowboys passing defense is sixth in the NFL, having given up 2,169 yards through the air, and their rush defense is 14th, giving up 1,052 yards on the ground. The Patriots will have their work cut out for them on offense this weekend.
The Cowboys have the historical advantage
The Cowboys on the surface also have the historical advantage over the Patriots, going 7-5 against them in 12 matchups. Their first matchup came in 1971, when the Cowboys took down the Patriots, 44-21. In fact, Dallas actually won their first seven games against the Patriots, winning every matchup between 1971 and 1996.
But the tides changed for the Patriots. They’re now on a five-game win streak against the Cowboys, with their first win coming in 1999, a 13-6 victory in Week 13 of the regular season. Their most recent matchup came in Week 5 of the 2015 season when the Patriots won, 30-6.
Is Tom Brady right to be upset?