Following up on this week's Team Notes
. ... According to The Dallas Cowboys' 13-9 Week 12 loss to the New England Patriots on Sunday wasn't even an hour old as Dak Prescott
"This thing is behind us," the quarterback said. "It's already behind me. It's behind this team. We'll be on [Monday], getting ready for the Bills. So I mean we've got a quick one coming up on Thursday, and we can't have a hangover. We'll be ready and we'll be ready to go."
Prescott and the Cowboys have no choice but to be past that "thing" from Sunday.
It was a thing that cost the Cowboys (6-5) another chance to show they can not only compete but defeat the NFL's best. It was a thing that looked like so many other things in their four other losses this season: Poor starts, poor tackling at times, poor execution on offense, poor special teams, poor coaching decisions.
"We had opportunity here to do some things against a really outstanding organization, a really outstanding team in a rough situation. And we just didn't get there," Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones said. "That's disappointing, and I'm reflecting it. I don't think there's a game that a coaching staff couldn't do better in. I just don't like that we've got so many [issues] as I'm standing here."
Jones will have plenty of decisions to make whenever this season ends, starting with his coach, Jason Garrett. Jones sounded more frustrated after the New England loss about his coaching staff than at any point of the Garrett era.
Making a change with five games to go -- either with Garrett or another member of the staff -- would seem impetuous and not accomplish much. The Cowboys made an in-season change last year when Paul Alexander was fired as offensive line coach and replaced by Marc Colombo, but there were nine games to go and a bye week then.
Jones was asked if the Cowboys need to win their remaining games to make the playoffs.
"I don't know," he said. "It has a lot to do with what Philadelphia does, of course."
If there is a team as disappointing as the Cowboys, maybe it is the Eagles (5-6), who have lost back-to-back home games against New England and Seattle. Four of Philadelphia's five remaining games are against the New York Giants, Washington Redskins and Miami Dolphins. The Dec. 22 matchup against the Cowboys at Lincoln Financial Field could be for the NFC East title.
The Cowboys are not looking at it as a five-game season. They are looking at it as five one-game seasons, starting today against the Bills.
And Buffalo, who have started the season at 8-3 for the first time since 1996, is no pushover.
Obviously, as that record would indicate, the Bills have revamped their roster with some intriguing young talent, particularly on defense, and it has spurred the hottest start in Buffalo in quite some time.
And there will be some especially tough matchups today.
keeps saying every week is a challenge in the NFL, and he makes a heck of a point. Fresh off a disappointing performance against Stephon Gilmore, Cooper’s going to draw a tough assignment against Tre’Davious White.
The former LSU star might be a bit under the radar, but he shouldn’t be.
After being drafted in the first round in 2017, White has established himself as one of the best young corners in the game. He’s fantastic at press man coverage, and he excels at shadowing opposing receivers all over the field.
Last week, he limited Denver’s Courtland Sutton
to one catch for 27 yards. His four interceptions have him tied for second-best in the league, and will likely help him make it to his first career Pro Bowl. Beyond that, Buffalo's secondary allows a league-low 10.96 yards per reception to wide receiver, while giving up only four wide receiver touchdowns all season.
As ESPN's Matthew Berry notes, Cooper has just three red zone targets in his past six games.
Fortunately for Cooper, he’s out of the rainy elements and back indoors at AT&T Stadium. In addition, as ESPN's Mike Clay suggests, the combination of his heavy workload (22 percent target share) and Dallas' high-scoring offense (3.0 touchdowns per game) is enough to keep him in the weekly top-20 mix.
By the way, with White on Cooper, Clay notes that Michael Gallup
has a decent matchup against Levi Wallace on the other side of the field while Randall Cobb
should be downgraded against Taron Johnson
Given the tough passing matchups, it seems like running the ball would be beneficial.
But Ezekiel Elliott
has largely been held in check over the last three weeks, logging rushing totals of 47, 45 and 86 yards, respectively. In the former two weeks, he averaged under three yards per carry.
Elliott has not racked up 100 yards since Week 9, and with Dallas badly needing a win and understanding that he is the most important piece of its offense, Garrett will likely feed the ball to his star running back quite a bit.
As Clutchpoints.com notes, while the Bills excel in defending the pass, they aren’t fantastic against the run, as they ranked 14th
in the NFL and are allowing 104.4 rushing yards per game on 4.4 yards per attempt.
Taking all of those factors into consideration, it would not be the least bit surprising if Elliott had a big day on Thanksgiving. ...
On the injury front. ... LB Leighton Vander Esch (neck) and DT Antwaun Woods (knee) have been officially ruled out for Thursday's game against the Bills. Safety Jeff Heath (shoulders) is questionable.