Dallas Cowboys Countdown to Los Angeles Chargers

WHEN:  3:25 p.m. Central Time

WATCH: CBS (Jim Nantz & Tony Romo)

LISTEN: Dallas Cowboys Radio Network; Sirius 83, XM 83; Cowboys app

FOLLOW: @BobbyBeltTX@CamiAnnG@JonahTulsNFL@therealmarklane

 

10: Melvin Gordon’s rank for touchdowns inside the 10 — Gordon has caught three touchdown catches inside the 10-yard line, tied for 10th-most in the NFL. With Sean Lee out, look for Philip Rivers to find Gordon on swing passes inside the 10. The lateral movement of Jaylon Smith has not yet returned, and will be on full display unless the Cowboys have a better option to shadow Gordon near the goal line.

 

9: Cowboys defense’s rank for sacks — The Cowboys are tied with the Rams for the ninth-most sacks in the league with 28. DeMarcus Lawrence leads the way with 11.5. The Cowboys pass rush is going to have to get home against Rivers who has been very adept at avoiding the pass rush in 2017.

 

8: Rank for sacks Philip Rivers has taken — Rivers has been dropped 12 times in 2017, tied with Derek Carr for the eighth-fewest in the NFL. Even though the Cowboys have the league’s leading sacker in DeMarcus Lawrence at 11.5, the pass rush has not been able to get home without Sean Lee on the field. Justin Durant, Anthony Hitchens, and Damien Wilson are going to have to cover the dump off and flat options so that the pass rush can get to Rivers.

 

7: Dallas defense’s rank for most red zone conversions — The Cowboys defense gives up a touchdown on 61.8 percent of their opponents’ trips, ranking seventh-worst in the NFL. The Chargers offense is tied with the Bengals for the 13th-worst in the NFL at 52.0 percent. The Cowboys may have the advantage, but with Sean Lee off the field, it may be a battle of who is worse in the red zone.

 

6: Cowboys offense’s rank for time of possession per drive — The Cowboys offense averages 2:49 per drive, good for sixth-most in the NFL. They also rank sixth-best in the NFL in terms of points per drive with 2.20. Clearly these numbers were bolstered by the bulk of Ezekiel Elliott’s availability, but the Cowboys could have a shot today to replicate the production from the Elliott days if they can only find a way to avoid the Chargers pass rush. The Chargers are tied for 11th-worst in time of possession per drive at 2:44, but at ninth-best in the NFL in points per drive at 1.66.

 

5: Dak Prescott’s rank for red zone passing touchdowns — Of Prescott’s 16 touchdown passes, 12 of them have been thrown in the red zone. Now that Ezekiel Elliott is suspended, who had six red zone rushing touchdowns, Prescott is the big weapon inside the 20-yard line. Not only can he throw, but he can rush. Prescott’s five rushing touchdowns are tied for the fourth-most in the NFL.

 

4: Tre Boston’s interceptions — The fourth-year free safety has intercepted four passes through 10 games, tied for third-most in the NFL. Boston came over from the Carolina Panthers in the off-season and has helped the Chargers achieve the eighth-most takeaways in the NFL with 17. Part of what has helped the Chargers win their four games has been the takeaways. Prescott has been giving them out recently, and today he will have to make sure the Chargers defense has less to be thankful for.

 

3: Joey Bosa’s rank for most sacks in the NFL — The second-year pass rusher from Ohio State has taken down the quarterback 10.5 times, good for third-best in the NFL. Not only has Bosa been dangerous from the outside, but so has teammate Melvin Ingram with 8.5 sacks. The Chargers and the Jaguars are the only teams with two players in the top-10 of sacks in the league. The Cowboys have given up 12 sacks in the absence of Tyron Smith. Either the All-Pro tackle gets back, or the Cowboys help his replacement and let right tackle La’el Collins have an opportunity to take go to the next level.

 

2: The Chargers defense’s rank for worst rushing defense — The Chargers give up 4.9 yards per carry, ranking second-worst in the NFL. One way to negate the pass rush of the Chargers defense is through the run game. Alfred Morris did not have a bad outing against the Eagles with 17 carries for 91 yards. The problem was the runs were too little and too late. Dallas needs to make sure the rushing game counts on Thanksgiving.

 

1: Chargers defense’s rank for rushing yards surrendered per game — As if there needed to be any further emphasis to run the football. The Chargers defense gives up 138.9 rushing yards per game, the absolute worst in the entire league. Teams without lead running backs from Philadelphia to New York were able to rack up over 100 yards against the Chargers defense. If not the Cowboys with the ostensibly best offensive line in the league and a former 1,000-yard rusher in Alfred Morris, then who?

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