What to watch for: Bills-Cowboys

Check out Sal's keys and notes as the Bills look to go 9-3 on the national stage

Sal Capaccio
November 27, 2019 - 5:02 pm
Bills

Photo: Timothy T. Ludwig - USA TODAY Sports

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Thanksgiving in Dallas!

The Buffalo Bills will try to go 9-3 for the first time since 1996, playing for the first time on Thanksgiving since 1994.

Here are three keys to the game:

 

  • Stay grounded

After showing plenty of cracks in their run defense over a three-game stretch, the Bills have done a good job of turning that back around, holding the Miami Dolphins and Denver Broncos to a combined 108 yards on the ground. Now they’ll be tested by a Dallas Cowboys team that ranks eighth in rushing yards per-game (129.8) and ninth per-play (4.59). Dallas running back Ezekiel Elliott is seventh in the NFL so far this season with 919 yards rushing. If the Cowboys get their ground game going, it will only make it much more difficult to stop the No. 1 passing offense in the NFL, led by quarterback Dak Prescott, who leads the league with 3,433 passing yards already.

 

  • I repeat….stay grounded

While the Bills will need to stop the Cowboys' ground game, if they can establish their own running game it will go a long way to winning. They ran for 244 yards last week against a good Broncs run defense, and are now ranked fifth in the NFL, running for 139.2 yards per-game. The Cowboys are a middle-of-the-pack run defense, ranked 15th in yards per-game against (104.8) and 14th per-play allowed (4.19). But they’ve allowed their opponents to go over 100 yards on the ground in each of their last five games and will be without two key defenders in the middle, defensive tackle Antwaun Woods and linebacker Leighton Vander Esch.

 

  • Be special

The Cowboys have really struggled on special teams this year. Here are some of their rankings in key areas: 

  • Punt return avg. allowed: 29th
  • Kick return avg. allowed: 24th
  • Punt return avg: 27th
  • Kick return avg: 32nd

Last week against the New England Patriots, they had a punt blocked and also almost didn’t field a kickoff that fell between two defenders. The Bills have the best kick return average in the league. With a short week, it’s going to be a bit more difficult for the Cowboys to fix their issues right away and may be an opportunity for the Bills to do something surprising, such as a fake punt or field goal or onside kick, hoping they aren’t prepared to defend it properly. It could also be a day where kickoff/punt return man Andre Roberts busts a big one.

 

NOTES AND STATS

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