The Dallas Cowboys are set to head to Gillette Stadium to take on the defending champion New England Patriots Sunday afternoon in one of the best matchups on the Week 12 NFL slate.
Can Dak Prescott continue his brilliant recent performance against the league’s best defense? Will Tom Brady be up for the task after struggling over the past month-plus?
There’s a whole heck of a lot on the line in this game. New England is still battling for home-field advantage in the AFC Playoffs. Meanwhile, Dallas finds itself at 6-4 and one game ahead of the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC East.
It’s in this that we give you four bold predictions for what promises to be a great game at Foxborough.
Dak Prescott throws multiple touchdowns
New England heads into Week 12 having yielded four passing touchdowns compared to 19 interceptions on the season. It has not allowed a quarterback to throw for more than one touchdown as of yet.
Expect that to change on Sunday. Prescott is playing the best football of his career. He’s thrown three touchdowns in each of the past three games and has six games on record this season with two-plus touchdowns. He’ll at least match that total against New England.
Patriots get their first 100-yard rusher
New England knows full well that it does not want to get into a shootout with the Cowboys on Sunday. It has to be all about game management from Tom Brady, controlling the time of possession and coming up with the opportunistic takeaways on defense.
That’s where second-year back Sony Michel comes into play. He’s been in and out of Bill Belichick’s dog house this season with 50 rushing yards or less five times. In fact, he has New England’s single-game high in rushing yards at just 91 back in Week 5.
We’re expecting this to change against Dallas on Sunday. Look for Michel to run the ball 20-plus times while reaching the century plateau. Dallas is yielding an average of nearly 125 rushing yards over the past four games.
Ezekiel Elliott held under 50 yards
Something really isn’t right with Elliott right now. He’s been held under 50 yards each of the past two games, putting up a combined 92 yards on 36 attempts (2.6 average).
While it’s clear that defenses are stacking the box against Zeke (see Prescott’s numbers during that span), it just doesn’t seem like he has the same oomph we’ve seen in the past. Last week’s 45-yard outing also came against a Lions defense that ranks in the bottom nine stopping the run.
Set to take on a Pats defense that ranks in the top 10 stopping the run, most wouldn’t look at this like a bold prediction. That’s until we realize New England is yielding 4.6 yards per rush, the 10th highest total in the NFL. Look for this defense to sell out against the run, much like what we’ve seen against Elliott in the recent past. That will lead to more struggles for the Pro Bowler and more opportunities for Prescott.
Cowboys finally get that statement win
Dallas’ six wins on the season have come against teams with a combined 15-44-1 mark. Of their four losses, those teams boast a 25-14 record. What exactly does this mean? Jason Garrett’s squad has been taking advantage of weaker opponents while not being able to get up against good competition.
That’s going to change Sunday in New England. The Patriots are coming off a two-game stretch that saw them get blown out by the Ravens, only to barely edge a lackluster Eagles squad the Cowboys dominated back on Oct. 20.
It’s interesting. New England’s nine wins have come against teams with a combined winning percentage of .356 winning percentage. Faced with a difficult test, look for the Patriots to struggle against a talented Cowboys squad at home in a losing effort.