With yet another tough matchup in front of them, the Dallas Cowboys must do this against the Baltimore Ravens in order to extend their winning streak.
This season for the Dallas Cowboys has been a constant series of challenges.
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Offensively, it began with the loss of quarterback Tony Romo. The Cowboys were now entrusting the fate of the team to a rookie fourth round selection.
Defensively, not one, but two starting defensive linemen would not be available for the first four games. An already thin unit had to rely on seven guys who collectively had 22.5 career sacks.
On the field, the season started with a loss at home against a divisional opponent built specifically to shut down offenses like theirs. Another divisional contest the next week, on the road, could have buried the Cowboys before summer officially ended.
It was in that moment, heading into the fourth quarter down to Washington when things turned around.
With the Redskins threatening to score, safety Barry Church intercepted Kirk Cousins in the end zone. Dak Prescott led the offense on an eleven play, eighty yard touchdown drive and the defense did their job one more time.
The Dallas Cowboys have not looked back since.
In this eight game winning streak, neither the opponent, nor their resume has been of much consequence.
Dallas beat down the team with 52 wins in the last five years and five straight playoff appearances 28-14. They dominated, on the road, a team that has won 80% of their home games this decade 30-16. The handled the team with the aggressive defense (29-23) and the one with highly potent offense (35-30).
Home or road, the Dallas Cowboys have answered the bell each and every time.
So, how do the Dallas Cowboys make it nine straight wins heading into their Thanksgiving rematch with Washington?
If the Dallas Cowboys are to be victorious over the Baltimore Ravens, they must score more than 21 points.
Oddly enough, today is the first time Dallas has faced a division leading team this year. Today, the AFC North leading Baltimore Ravens come into town on the strength of one of the best defenses in football.
The Ravens have the best run defense. They have allowed the least amount of total yards. They are tied for third in opponents points per game and are fifth in pass defense.
Baltimore has not allowed more than 20 points in their five wins. In those contests, their opponents have averaged just 13 points per game.
Sounds daunting right?
It could be, if the Dallas Cowboys weren’t by far the most difficult challenge Baltimore has faced as well. The Ravens five wins came against Buffalo, Jacksonville, Pittsburgh and Cleveland twice.
Buffalo, like Dallas has a dominate run game. Unlike the Cowboys however, they have the second worst passing attack. For some reason, LeSean McCoy only had 16 carries though and Buffalo tried to win by passing.
Baltimore caught a break against as well. For one, this was Ben Roethlisberger‘s first game back from a knee injury. More absurdly, however, the Steelers abandoned their run game, only giving Le’Veon Bell 14 carries and letting Ben throw 45 times.
Dallas will not fall prey to such silly tactics. If the Ravens win, it won’t be for a lack of Ezekiel Elliott touches.
There is a flip side to this coin as well.
The Ravens have been fortunate to win three games so far in which they only scored one touchdown. That formula will not be successful against a Cowboys team that ranks third in the league in scoring, third in total yards and first in rushing.
Baltimore will need to score to keep the pressure on the Cowboys and I’m more than skeptical that they can do so.