NFL 2019 (Week 4): Dallas Cowboys at New Orleans Saints

Russell S. Baxter

NFL 2019 (Week 4): Dallas Cowboys at New Orleans Saints

By Jesse Pierson

Special to Pro Football Guru

To hear that the Dallas Cowboys and New Orleans Saints are a combined 5-1 coming into this showdown would hardly surprise anyone. To hear that New Orleans won at Seattle last week without Drew Brees – in Teddy Bridgewater’s first meaningful start since January, 2016—and even held a 20-point lead in the third quarter would be significantly more unpredictable. Bridgewater did what was asked of him by Saints coaches, throwing two touchdowns and contributing 189 yards of total offense (177 passing, 12 rushing). Conversely, Dallas’ offense under first-year coordinator Kellen Moore has equal parts explosive and consistent. In three games against inferior opponents, the Cowboys have scored 35, 31, and 31 points, respectively. Moore’s unit is also the only one in the league to rank in the top five in scoring, total yardage, passing yards and rushing yards. This will be their best test against a talented team in a raucous environment.

Cowboys: After Ezekiel Elliott held out for a contract extension and was rewarded with a six-year, $90 million deal, he has returned to form as one of the NFL’s most complete and dangerous backs. Dak Prescott is next in line for a new contract, and he has certainly done his part to earn a major payday. Through three games, Prescott has completed 74.5 percent of his passes with nine touchdowns and is averaging a healthy eight yards per carry when he decides to pull the ball down. Moore and Prescott were teammates in Dallas during the 2016 and 2017 seasons, and Moore clearly took note of what the former Mississippi State Bulldog does well. This year’s offense has featured a collection of run-pass options and play-action passes to showcase Prescott’s strengths. It is working. If the team can sustain this level of play for the duration, then Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith, and Michael Irvin will have to welcome Prescott, Elliott, and Amari Cooper to the Cowboys’ “Big 3” Club.

Saints: No doubt the Saints are happy to be home after a two-week west coast swing, losing Brees in a loss to the Rams before rebounding to unseat the Seahawks. New Orleans also hosted a prime time game in their opener, in which they beat Houston in a photo finish on Monday Night Football. In the absence of Brees, Alvin Kamara has worked to ease the collective minds of “Who Dat Nation.” He is the team’s leading rusher and second-leading receiver (behind Michael Thomas), and he is a threat to score from anywhere on the field. Expect a heavy dose of No. 41 against Dallas. Cameron Jordan and the Saints defense amassed nine sacks in their first two games, although they were unable to bring Russell Wilson to the turf last week. Since Brees is going to be out for at least another month, this team will need to win by playing complementary football, and it appears to be up to the challenge.

Prediction: Dallas starts slowly in its first action against someone its own size, which sets the Superdome crowd into a frenzy. The ‘Boys answer the call after a few poor drives, and Bridgewater does not have the juice to complete a comeback.

Dallas Cowboys 28, New Orleans Saints 24

Jesse Pierson (@jessetpierson) is a former teacher and high school football coach who has written about the Colts for over a decade. He loves football, dogs, food, and comedy, and you can follow his work on his Facebook page, Jesse Pierson, Mediocre Writer.

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