Dallas Cowboys vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Quick Game Preview
Can the Dallas Cowboys right the ship against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday? With playoff implications on the line, the Cowboys could use a victory.
The Dallas Cowboys return to AT&T Stadium for the first time since Thanksgiving Day when they square off with the playoff-hungry Tampa Bay Buccaneers in what could be a preview of a future NFC playoff matchup.
Despite the 11-game win streak coming to an end last Sunday, there haven’t been more eyes on the Cowboys this season than there are right now, as everybody wants to see how the team reacts to adversity for the first time in three months.
With the Buccaneers coming to town looking to continue their own winning streak, the Cowboys will need to play better than they have in recent weeks; most notably Dak Prescott. Sunday’s shaky performance extended Prescott’s streak of games with less than 200 passing yards to three.
Prescott hasn’t shown the talent that earned him the starting nod over Tony Romo over the last few weeks, but that has been masked by team success. Now that the team took their second loss of the season in prime time to the Giants, the young quarterback is facing more scrutiny. For the first time in his young career, Prescott looked like a rookie quarterback.
Look for the Buccaneers to try to use the same simple formula to get under Dak’s skin this Sunday: pressure. The Bucs have the personnel to do it too, with talented pass-rushers like Noah Spence, Robert Ayers, and of course Gerald McCoy.
They will likely get after Prescott and try to force mistakes out of him, similar to what the Giants dialed up in Week Fourteen. If Prescott looks as shaky as he did against New York, look for the offense to struggle once again in prime time.
On the other sideline, Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston has shown promise in his second season as a pro. He has weapons around him, the most notable being big-bodied receiver Mike Evans, who should be a problem for the Cowboys secondary that will likely be without cornerback Morris Claiborne yet again.
Running back Doug Martin has been banged up, but is still capable of gouging a defense for big plays when the opportunity presents itself. This offense will be a test for a Cowboys defense that hasn’t been very good this year, but are coming off their best performance of the season in New York.
While Prescott and the receivers had a rough go of things in Week Fourteen, the offensive showing wasn’t all bad, as running back Ezekiel Elliott ended his three game streak of being “held” under 100 yards rushing.
Typically the offense will go as Elliott goes, and while he has yet to have a bad game since Week One, if he can get in that groove that had him in the MVP talks, this offense can get back to the juggernaut status it had during the winning streak.
This team needed a loss before the playoffs to keep them humble. While it was a division game, the loss won’t hurt the Cowboys as long as it doesn’t become a habit. Look for them to learn from their mistakes and bounce back against a tough but beatable Tampa Bay team.
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