Week 13 is Off to a Wild Start After an Upset in Dallas
I’m about to utter a sentence that a New York Giants fan should never have to say.
The Dallas Cowboys are for real.
After an impressive 13-10 win over the New Orleans Saints, the hottest team in the NFL, the Dallas Cowboys are legit contenders that teams need to watch out for when the postseason begins.
The defense will get its due, but an offensive trio is blossoming in Dallas at the moment. Dak Prescott, Amari Cooper and most importantly Ezekiel Elliott are all starting to hit their stride this season.
Prescott completed 24 of 28 (18 straight at one point) for 248 yards and a touchdown. Cooper hauled in 8 catches on 8 targets, and it was just another day in the offense for Ezekiel Elliott. He finished the night with 136 yards from scrimmage and the lone touchdown for the Cowboys.
Cooper is the newest addition, but you can already tell his rapport with Prescott improves every week. Elliott makes the engine churn and has solidified himself as the most valuable if not the best running back in the league. Todd Gurley can make an argument, but Cowboys fans would become ill at the thought of this offense without Elliott.
The one chink in the armor for the Cowboys offense is ball control. Seemingly once a game you can bank on Dak Prescott being stripped of the ball in the pocket. On Thursday night, it happened twice.
He recovered the first one. The second happened late in the fourth quarter and almost allowed the Saints to steal a win that would have been a crushing blow for the Cowboys.
However, the aforementioned Dallas defense wasn’t going to let that happen. Only overshadowed by the Chicago Bears, this Dallas Cowboys defense is vaunted. At every level they have playmakers and have yet to reveal a weakness. DeMarcus Lawrence, Leighton Vander Esch and Byron Jones are locks for the Pro Bowl this season.
Holding the Saints to ten points and less than 200 yards of offense is the most impressive defensive outing of the year.
At 7-5, the Cowboys have control of the NFC East and will look to make the most of this late season surge that includes their current four-game win streak.
After this upset, the Saints fall to 10-2 and now need some help from the opponents of the LA Rams if they want to regain that home field advantage.
Here are a few other teams on upset alert in Week 13 as the playoffs loom:
Houston Texans vs. Cleveland Browns, 1:00 PM @ NRG Stadium
Yes, you read that correctly. A team facing the Cleveland Browns is actually on upset alert. Baker Mayfield has lead a resurgence for the laughing stock of the NFL. The Browns are no longer an easy win you can pencil in on your schedule at the beginning of the year.
The culture change has already begun, but will it be enough to knock off the hottest team in the AFC.
Since a 0-3 start, the Texans are in the middle of a historic season. Led by Deshaun Watson, Houston has rattled off 8 straight wins and has a firm grasp on the AFC South heading in to the home stretch of the season.
This match up only intensifies due to the fact that not too long ago Mayfield and Watson were establishing themselves as top quarterbacks in the college ranks. They were compared profusely due to their similar styles of play.
The two quarterbacks excel when it comes to leading a team, extending plays, and coming up in the biggest of moments.
With their dynamic abilities comes great responsibility. Both teams have faith that these quarterbacks will make the right call under pressure.
Ball security and minimizing turnovers will be the key for these young quarterbacks on Sunday. The Browns and Texans have stout, opportunistic defenses that love coming up with plays that swing momentum in the game.
Look out for Myles Garrett and of course JJ Watt. These opposing defensive lineman will look for sacks all afternoon, especially sacks that lead to fumbles and a change of possession.
With 18 NFL games under his belt now, Watson is at home and should be able to keep his composure throughout the game.
Coming from behind, Baker Mayfield will look to make big plays but it could be a late interception that dooms his team.
I like the Texans in this match up by the slimmest of margins. It won’t come easy but they should come away with their 9th straight win.
Prediction: 24-20, Houston Texans
New England Patriots vs. Minnesota Vikings, 4:25 PM @ Gillette Stadium
Every year during the Tom Brady and Bill Belichick dynasty when the calendar hits December, the Patriots hit their stride. Their championship DNA begins to shine through, and the home stretch is something they thrive in.
This year feels different in New England. There seems to be a lack of talent, chemistry and cohesion that New England fans are accustomed to. Having Tom Brady can make up for deficiencies, and so far the Patriots are relishing that.
At 8-3, the Patriots are fighting for home field advantage in the AFC, but this weekend’s match up against the Minnesota Vikings has them on upset alert.
The Patriots are 5-0 at home this season, the main reason Vegas has them as 5.5-point favorites heading in to Sunday’s game.
Minnesota is coming off one of their most important results of the season as they knocked off the Packers at home in a must-win game to stay afloat in the NFC playoff picture. Kirk Cousins has grown to like his arsenal on the perimeter. Adam Thielen, Stefon Diggs and Kyle Rudolph are catching everything thrown their way. When they’re executing, the Minnesota air assault is one of the best in the league.
On top of that, Dalvin Cook is healthy and providing Minnesota with a much-needed ground game. This well-rounded attack is needed for Minnesota to have any chance to win in this playoff atmosphere at Gillette Stadium.
New England’s offense has been shaky of late, so finding their rhythm will be key to avoiding the upset. Much like New Orleans on Thursday, New England has everything to play for this weekend. They need a statement win to maintain their position in the AFC Playoff picture.
The running game with Sony Michel will need to be established so Brady isn’t forced to throw too much on Sunday. An aggressive Minnesota defensive line will be looking to wreak havoc in the backfield.
A stat to keep an eye on will be total rushing yards. Michel or Cook having a break out day will pay dividends for their respective teams and should coincide with a victory.
Prediction: 27-24, Minnesota Vikings
As the playoffs are set to start in many leagues after this weekend, a lot of top teams took a huge blow. Kareem Hunt was released by the Kansas City Chiefs due to footage that was released Friday afternoon. He was caught on video shoving and kicking a woman during a dispute at a hotel. Due to this, it is a must to pick up Spencer Ware and Damien Williams. The next two backs on the Chiefs depth chart will have big shoes to fill so look for both of them to be involved in the offense down the stretch.
The Cincinnati Bengals look like they are on course for another disappointing season. After starting off 4-1, the Bengals have subsequently lost AJ Green and Andy Dalton to injury as well as three straight games. Dalton is out for the season, leaving the quarterback duties to Jeff Driskel. Long story short, pick up any defense taking on the Bengals for a promising match up each week.