The week 13 slate begins with the 6-5 Dallas Cowboys taking on the 10-1 New Orleans Saints at AT@T Stadium. Sure, Dallas is riding a three-game winning streak, but the Saints have ballooned that an extra seven games. This winning streak might be a fast clap of the hand for Jason Garrett, but nothing more than a mild one for most fans.
This is a game that could change that mindset.
You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to think Dallas could lose this game by a lot. Drew Brees is an MVP candidate as his squad is scoring 37.2 points per game, the best mark in the league. In that number, the Saints have scored more than 30-points nine times. The Cowboys have done that just twice. If Dak Prescott is in a shootout with Drew Brees, it is pretty much safe to say the NFL’s leader in passing yards is going to come out on top.
On paper, it appears to be a battle of the Cowboys defense against the high powered Saints offense. This Rod Marinelli unit ranks seventh-best in yards per game at 331.3 and third in points per game at 19.4. However, the Falcons are currently the only team in the top ten in offensive points per game the Cowboys have faced. Granted they held Atlanta to 19, but the Falcons have lost three in a row and New Orleans is clearly on another level.
Getting the Saints off the field on third down will be a huge factor. The Cowboys have been better as of late, but inconsistent. The Saints rank sixth-best in the league with a 47% conversion rate. Overall, Drew Brees is the best in the NFL with a 76.4% completion rate. You might recall in the Cowboys last loss that Marcus Mariotta connected on 11-14 from third down.
Any sort of pressure by Demarcus Lawrence and company will be a huge factor. The Saints offensive line has allowed just 10 sacks all season. A plus sign for the Cowboys defense was the three interceptions last game, albeit from Colt McCoy. If Dallas cannot win the turnover rate or create short field opportunities, winning this game will be a monumental task.
Keeping Brees on the bench will also help with a strong running game from Ezekiel Elliot. This should be an interesting match-up as New Orleans is best in the league against the run, averaging 73.2 yards per game. Elliot, on the other hand, is leading the NFL in rushing with 1,074 yards. He has rushed for over 100-yards the last three games. Keep the ball in #21’s hands as much as possible and use that clock. That would poise as a good remedy for the Cowboys to win this game.
The line for this game has been hovering around 7.5-points in favor of the Saints. New Orleans average score against common opponents for Dallas has been 40-20. As much as I relish in the Cowboys winning ways as of late, I think it ends this week. That would set up a huge showdown with the Philadelphia Eagles, who sit just a game out of first place after defeating the New York Giants on Sunday.
New Orleans Saints 38, Dallas Cowboys 24