The Dallas Cowboys were handed a surprising loss at the hands of the Las Vegas Raiders on Thanksgiving afternoon, 36-33 in overtime. The Raiders came into the game floundering, losing three in a row off of their bye week, yet mustered enough to get a win on the road over the Cowboys.
Las Vegas even lost star tight end, Darren Waller, in the first half, yet it didn’t slow their offense down. The Cowboys fell to 7-4 with the loss and will be looking to bounce back this week on Thursday night football against the New Orleans Saints.
The Saints suffered an embarrassing loss of their own on Thanksgiving, getting blown out 31-6 by the visiting Buffalo Bills. They will be looking to get things on track as they host the Cowboys in Week 13.
The Cowboys will be facing a hungry Saints team looking to stay alive in the NFC playoff picture and snap a four-game losing streak. But, Dallas has the pieces to win this game. Here are four reasons the Cowboys will be victorious in their Week 13 matchup in New Orleans.
4. Saints Offense With Limited Chemistry
The New Orleans Saints were rolling with Jameis Winston as their starting quarterback. They were 5-2 before he suffered a season-ending knee injury, tearing his ACL. The Saints have not won since, as Trevor Siemian has seen his play deteriorate each week.
As a result, Taysom Hill has been taking a majority of the first-team snaps in practice this week. His dual-threat ability makes him a tougher player to game plan for, but the Cowboys will catch a break knowing that the Saints’ offense will be extremely rusty.
Hill missed numerous games with a concussion earlier in the season. He hasn’t thrown a pass since Week 10 against the Tennessee Titans and has attempted only eight all season.
With so few reps, the starting offense will likely be lacking chemistry as well. Getting Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram back would help, but if the Cowboys can take an early lead and make New Orleans more one-dimensional, it will greatly improve their odds of winning.
3. DeMarcus Lawrence Returning From Injury
The Dallas Cowboys defense has been hit by a few injuries this season, especially to the front seven. DeMarcus Lawrence hasn’t played since Week 1 because of a broken bone in his foot, but he is on track to return against the New Orleans Saints.
Lawrence is an integral part of the team’s defense and was recently activated off of injured reserve. He helps set the edge in the run game and is a great pass rusher. His presence alone improves the Cowboys’ defense even if he isn’t racking up stats.
In addition to Lawrence, there is an outside chance the Cowboys get Randy Gregory back against the Saints as well. Gregory is an ace pass rusher who has been sidelined with a calf injury and was eligible to return to practice this week.
Dallas will likely take their time with Gregory returning, but getting Lawrence back will be helpful.
2. Saints Defensive Front Hit By Injuries
While the Dallas Cowboys’ defensive front is getting healthier, the New Orleans Saints are experiencing some injury concerns. How things shake out the next few days will be huge for the Saints.
The Saints’ run defense was strong to start the season, holding eight of their first nine opponents under 100 yards. But they have surrendered 355 yards against their last two opponents as the injuries have taken a toll.
Defensive end Payton Turner is on injured reserve, while Marcus Davenport and Tanoh Kpassagnon have also battled ailments. Both missed Monday’s practice, putting their status for Thursday’s game in doubt.
Getting to play against multiple reserves along the defensive front would be a big break for the Cowboys, who have struggled at times to block for Dak Prescott. It will also help open up holes in the running game for Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard should the Saints’ defensive front be compromised.
1. Wide Receivers Are Back To Full Health
The Dallas Cowboys haven’t had their full complement of wide receivers very often this season. Michael Gallup has played in only four games this season. Amari Cooper missed the last two because of a positive COVID-19 test. CeeDee Lamb suffered a concussion against the Kansas City Chiefs and missed the Thanksgiving matchup against the Las Vegas Raiders.
The New Orleans Saints will have the unfortunate luck of getting to face off against all three of them healthy and ready to go. Dalton Schultz has provided excellent production from the tight end spot, while Dallas has good depth at receiver with Cedrick Wilson going over 100 yards on Thanksgiving as well.
Having such an explosive passing attack will also keep the Cowboys in the game. It will be a tall task for the Saints to slow this group down as this is one of the healthiest games the Dallas offense will have thus far this season.