Tha Sports Junkies 101

NFL Week 9 Preview: Cowboys Versus Browns

Cowboys bring offensive balance to the field PAUL MOSELEY VIA FLICKR


Cowboys Must Continue To Play With Balance On Offense

The Dallas Cowboys will arrive in Cleveland Sunday afternoon riding a six game winning streak. They have shown the ability to play with solid balance on offense through Dak Prescott’s arm and Ezekiel Elliott’s legs. That should continue as they take on the 0-8 Browns who are starving for their first win of the 2016 season.

The Cleveland Browns are coming off their eighth loss of the season after losing 31-28 last week to the New York Jets at home. The Browns are obviously going to be frustrated and motivated to get a big win at home over the NFC leading Dallas Cowboys. Yes, on paper this looks like a cake walk for Dallas, but when a team is playing angry and desperate for a win, nothing is easy. The Browns will be well prepared for Dallas as they didn’t have to travel this week. The Browns have found a great talent in Terrelle Pryor as he made the conversion from an NFL quarterback to wide receiver. It has worked out nicely for Cleveland thus far, even though they have failed to register a win this season. The Dallas secondary will be undermanned this weekend as Morris Claiborne and Barry Church will likely be out a few weeks with injuries. The Browns will be ready, Dallas must prepare for a dog fight.

The Cowboys have been rolling on offense of late. They are averaging 29 points per game in the previous three. They get on the scoreboard early and immediately put pressure on the opposing team to keep pace. The ability to have an effective offense that shows great balance through the passing and running game as favored this Dallas team. Defenses have to respect the offensive line’s ability to open up holes for running backs and have the athleticism to protect the passer in the pocket. Tyron Smith, Travis Fredrick, and Zack Marin have done an excellent job holding down the fort up front for Dallas.

The Cowboys carry enormous momentum with them into Cleveland with a six game winning streak. Since they are on the road, expect them to receive the opening kick to get a quick start and silence the rowdy Cleveland home crowd. The running game will be a big part of the early stages in this match up. Ezekiel Elliott will need to get going to wear out the Browns defense and open up opportunities for Dez Bryant to see some one-on-one looks on the outside.

The reason I expect Dallas to get the running game going early is how poor the Browns’ rush defense has been. Through eight games, the Browns have given up an average of 143.8 yards a game. That’s an average of nearly five yards a carry. The Cowboys have the league’s best rushing offense, so they will look to exploit that mismatch early. Prescott might be involved in a few boot legs to get him in space to see if he can run for yardage as well as throw. Elliott should have a monster day on the ground in the dog pound.

Dez Bryant is back and made an immediate impact as he returned balance back to the passing game. After missing three games with a knee injury, Bryant was able to surpass the 100 yard mark and find the end zone against Philadelphia. This week, he should see a lot of man to man coverage with Browns corner back, Joe Haden. Haden will be covering Bryant most of the day if he’s healthy enough to take the field. With his number one target back, Prescott will be able to distribute the ball a bit easier with extra attention on Bryant. Cole Beasley, who was relatively quiet last week against the eagles, should be able to get back on track against the Browns. Beasley still leads the team in catches and will see some mismatches with slower defenders.

The Cowboys are looking fluid and explosive with an efficient offense that displays perfect balance. Dallas will look to continue their winning streak as they travel to Cleveland Sunday afternoon. The Cowboys and Browns will play at 1:00 p.m. ET.