Dallas Cowboys vs. Cleveland Browns: Five Early Thoughts

The Dallas Cowboys sit atop of the NFC with a somewhat improbable 6-1 record. However, the team can’t afford to fall asleep with a potential trap game awaiting them in Cleveland.

Oct 30, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns quarterback Josh McCown (13) celebrates a touchdown during the second quarter against the New York Jets at FirstEnergy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott R. Galvin-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Cowboys have been the surprise of the NFL up to this point in the season. Lead by a duo of offensive rookies who are playing better than anyone could have imagined, and a defense that has been able to capitalize in the most opportune of times, optimism has never been higher in Dallas.

While the present, and the future, certainly look bright for big D, coach Garrett can’t afford to let his team step off the throttle.

Awaiting in Cleveland is a team that has the talent on both sides of the ball to pose problems for the Cowboys.

With that being said, Dallas has the opportunity and the momentum to reach 7 wins half way through the season.

Here are 5 thoughts on the team and their match-up Sunday with the Browns.

Thought #1 – Trap Game

Sundays match-up in Cleveland has all of the makings of a trap game for the Cowboys. Yes, the Browns are winless to this point but they have been competitive mostly week in and week out.

They have one of the best running games in the league, sitting comfortably at 8th.

On the outside they boast the big play ability of quarterback turned wide receiver Terrelle Pryor who is 11th in the league in receiving yards.

Throw in the return of rumored Dallas Cowboys trade target Josh McCown who has shown a veteran savvy and leadership running the Browns offense and it’s easy to see why the Dallas Defense can’t fall asleep.

As long as the Cowboys are able to run the ball and control the clock their offense will have the opportunity to create big plays.

October 2, 2016; Santa Clara, CA, USA; Dallas Cowboys fullback Keith Smith (41) during the first quarter against the San Francisco 49ers at Levi

October 2, 2016; Santa Clara, CA, USA; Dallas Cowboys fullback Keith Smith (41) during the first quarter against the San Francisco 49ers at Levi

#2 – The invaluable Keith Smith

One of the most underappreciated players on this team is linebacker.. errr I mean fullback Keith Smith.

Look no further than his tremendous blitz pickup this past Sunday that allowed Dak to hit Dez Bryant for his first big play of the game.

Smith was able to identify the blitzer and make his way across the face of his quarterback to deliver a bone-jarring block. See the block here.

It would be easy to mistake that block for one that Ezekiel Elliott has been making week in and week out.

That makes it all the more impressive.

Let’s not forget that this is a guy who has bounced on and off the roster and the practice squad for a few years now.

He was willing to make the position switch as a selfless act to help the team and it is now paying dividends.

Smith has shown the ability to catch and carry the ball out of the backfield.

He has also been a standout contributor on special teams.

All very impressive feats for a guy whose chances of making the team looked incredibly slim at one point.

The new fullback has shown incredibly resiliency and is no doubt a Jason Garrett “type guy”.

Oct 30, 2016; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett smiles after the overtime victory against the Philadelphia Eagles at AT&T Stadium. The Cowboys beat the Eagles 29-23 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Oct 30, 2016; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett smiles after the overtime victory against the Philadelphia Eagles at AT&T Stadium. The Cowboys beat the Eagles 29-23 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

#3 – Credit to Jason Garrett and his staff

Jason Garrett hasn’t always been a fan favorite in Dallas. In fact he has often times been the scape goat in the face of tough losses. Now it seems as though he is finally getting the recognition he deserves. To his credit, he is going out and taking the credit, it is not being handed to him.

Look at this past weekends game against a bitter division rival. Jason Garrett not only calls the first fake punt I can remember the Cowboys running in the last 6 years, but he also made the decision to go and TAKE the game in overtime.

Facing 4th and 1 in Eagles territory Jason Garrett could be seen on the TV broadcast saying, what looked like, “Go for it. Let’s win the game.” And win the game he did.

Garrett should no doubt be the top candidate for coach of the year up to this point and he deserves an immense amount of credit for what he has been able to accomplish.

The head coach has been able to build the team his way with “the right type of guys” who “trust the process” and “come to work everyday ready to work and compete”. As repetitive and corny as Garrett trademark answers often seem they also seem to ring true within the locker room.

Not only that he has built one of, if not the, best offensive lines in the NFL. He has added talented young depth at all of his positions, drafted well in the top and later rounds, and built his team from the inside out.

Jason has often been an easy punching bag for angry Cowboys fans, but perhaps it is time that he gets more of the praise, now that he is the one turning opponents into punching bags.

Oct 2, 2016; Santa Clara, CA, USA; Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott (21) reacts during the fourth quarter against the San Francisco 49ers at Levi

Oct 2, 2016; Santa Clara, CA, USA; Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott (21) reacts during the fourth quarter against the San Francisco 49ers at Levi

#4 – Ezekiel Elliott could be in for a monster game

Zeke Elliott has more than likely wrapped up the offensive rookie of the year award only half way through the season.

That speaks to the impact he has had thus far and the success he has been able to get out of his talent.

All of that is great but Elliott could be in for his most impressive showing of the year in Cleveland.

The Browns own the second to last rushing defense in the NFL.

The Cowboys could be looking to pound the ball on the ground due to physical and emotional toll that last Sundays victory undoubtedly took on the team.

Elliott could prove to be the beneficiary of a Cowboys team that will want to get in and get out of Cleveland without falling into the makings of a trap game.

With Cleveland’s atrocious run defense looming and Zeke looking to make an impact back in his collegiate state where he starred for the Buckeye’s.

It would be smart to bet on 150+ rushing performance for #21.

Oct 16, 2016; Green Bay, WI, USA; Green Bay Packers wide receiver Jordy Nelson (87) carries the ball as Dallas Cowboys defensive back Anthony Brown (30) defends during the fourth quarter at Lambeau Field. The Cowboys won 30-16. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Oct 16, 2016; Green Bay, WI, USA; Green Bay Packers wide receiver Jordy Nelson (87) carries the ball as Dallas Cowboys defensive back Anthony Brown (30) defends during the fourth quarter at Lambeau Field. The Cowboys won 30-16. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

#5 – Anthony Brown ready to step up

What a shame that the Cowboys lost one of the best defensive backs in the NFL in Morris Claiborne.

Claiborne was really turning into one of the feel good stories for this 2016 Cowboys team.

Here’s to hoping we see the former LSU Tiger on the field for the team again.

Anyway, one of the biggest positives of from the Orlando Scandrick injury was obviously the emergence of rookie Anthony Brown.

Not only does Brown look like one of the steals of this years draft he also looks like a stud for the future of this Cowboys defense.

Brown has gotten a ton of snaps thus far, and he is looking at a lot more in the near future.

To his credit, not only has he not been out of position he has been in great position to make plays on the ball and often times has found himself with a pass breakup.

He’s an incredibly smart defensive back who plays up to his speed and trusts his instincts.

The injury to Morris is really unfortunate but Dallas fans can rest easy knowing that Brown is ready to step in and give them a glance at what is looking like a long and successful future in the Cowboys defensive backfield.

This article originally appeared on