Dallas Cowboys Countdown to Thursday Night Football

WHEN:  7:26 p.m. Central Time

WATCH: NBC (Mike Tirico & Cris Collinsworth)

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

FOLLOW: @BobbyBeltTX@CamiAnnG@JonahTulsNFL@therealmarklane

 

10: Washington defense’s rank for sacks per drop back — Washington is tied with Atlanta for the 10th-best sack percentage on drop backs in the NFL at 7.1 percent. The Falcons’ rank was helped by the eight-sack game against Dak Prescott at the beginning of the odyssey without Ezekiel Elliott. Washington dropped Prescott twice with Ryan Kerrigan the culprit behind both. The second-year signal caller needs to get rid of the ball quicker to avoid another Adrian Clayborn incident.

 

9: Washington defense’s rank for yards per carry — The number is 4.3, tied with Miami and the Giants for the ninth-worst in the NFL. Think Dallas can’t run the ball without Elliott? Think again: in the three games without Elliott, Alfred Morris has averaged 4.86 yards on the ground. Rod Smith has been below the Washington average at 3.30, but the horses are there to carry the rock. Dallas’ problem has been falling behind too quickly, and thus abandoning the run.

 

8: Washington’s rank for red zone conversions — Believe it or not, Washington and New England are tied for the eighth-best red zone conversions in the NFL at 58.3 percent. The Cowboys defense allows 56.4 percent conversions in the red zone, the 11th-most in the NFL. Dallas is really in trouble with their red zone defense as they are tied with Detroit, Kansas City, and the Giants for the third-most red zone trips with 39, a good 3.6 red zone visits per game. Dallas will need to keep Washington from seeing inside the 20s.

 

7: Kirk Cousins’ passer rating rank — Cousins has amassed a 101.1 passer rating, good for seventh-best in the NFL. What is interesting is that through 11 games last season, it was 101.4, the sixth-best in the NFL. What is alarming for the Cowboys beyond their own 101.4 opposing passer rating is what it is without Sean Lee: 118.7, which is by the far the worst in the NFL by a full 8.0 points. With Lee and Justin Durant ruled out along with a questionable Sean Hitchens, Dallas will need to find some answers at linebacker quick.

 

6: Dak Prescott’s yards per pass attempt ranking since the Elliott suspension — Prescott has compiled a 5.68 yards per pass attempt in the three games since Elliott’s suspension, the sixth-worst among starting quarterbacks in that span. Prescott has also compiled a 57.0 passer rating in Elliott’s absence, the third-worst behind Paxton Lynch and Nathan Peterman in that span. It has been rough for Prescott. If there is one consolation, it is that he has never thrown a pick against Washington. Perhaps this is the game he gets back on the giveaway-less path.

 

5: Prescott’s red zone rushing touchdowns — The second-year field general has rushed for five touchdowns in the red zone. Given that Elliott, who still has the third-most red zone rushing touchdowns with six, won’t be coming back soon, the Cowboys need to rely on the dual threat aspect of Prescott inside the 20s so that he does not add to his three red zone picks, which are the second-most in the NFL.

 

4: Number of touchdown catches Cole Beasley has inside the 10-yard line — Okay. Maybe you can have Prescott throw inside the red zone, but make sure that Beasley is his target. The undrafted free agent from SMU in 2012 has four red zone touchdown catches, all inside the 10-yard line. In the departure of Elliott, Beasley has really suffered. After the Chiefs game, he averaged three catches for 21 yards. Now, Beasley averages two for 16. Beasley is the second necessary key to unlocking the Cowboys offense.

 

3: Josh Doctson’s red zone touchdowns — The second-year receiver out of TCU has grabbed three touchdowns in the red zone among his four total as part of his 21-catch, 328-yard season. If Cousins gets into the red zone, where he has thrown 13 touchdowns this season, look for him to target Doctson, who has the second-most red zone targets on the team with nine.

 

2: Number of times Jay Gruden has avoided a sweep — The Washington head coach has faced a season sweep six times since taking the reins in 2014 and has staved it off twice with a 1/4 rate on the road. Furthermore, Gruden is 2-5 against the Cowboys, though he does possess a 2-1 mark at AT&T Stadium. Washington fans better hope he doesn’t live down to his 1-7 road record in November.

 

1: Number of sacks the Cowboys have had in three games — The offensive woes without Elliott make sense. The lone sack in the past three games do not. The Cowboys will have to find a way to drop Cousins, or else they risk dropping to 5-7 on the season.

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