The Dallas Cowboys are 11-2 and have clinched a playoff berth. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have shown a lot of improvement and are currently 8-5 and sixth in the NFC playoff picture. The Buccaneers travel to face the Cowboys on Sunday night, and it has massive playoff implications for both teams. The Cowboys can still clinch home field advantage and a bye week in the playoffs and will need a win to keep those hopes alive. If the Buccaneers win they can keep their playoff hopes alive, a loss might severely hinder a potential playoff berth.
The Cowboys looked unbeatable going into last week’s game against the Giants, but then they lost 10-7. We cannot remember the last time a potential MVP QB was being called to be benched after one bad game, but that is exactly what happened to Dak Prescott. The thing that people forget is that he is still a rookie, and he finally made some rookie mistakes against the Giants defense. The Giants exposed the Cowboys, they sold out to stop RB Ezekiel Elliott and forced Prescott to convert 3rd and longs from the pocket, and he struggled. The Buccaneers have an emerging star in QB Jameis Winston and have surrounded him with talented, young weapons. The Buccaneers are 15th in passing offense with Winston in only his second year, and rank 18th in rush offense so they have shown balance throughout the season.
The Cowboys offense, when rolling, is one of the most dangerous in the entire league. We, however, believe the Giants have discovered how to stop the Cowboys and other teams will attempt to do the same: Load the box to stop Elliot, play great man coverage on the outside and force Dak Prescott to stay in the pocket. The Buccaneers have the ability to do that, and the offensive weapons to keep up in a potential shoot out. The Cowboys must now respond after a crushing loss, and this team is young so we are not sure they will be mentally prepared to put the loss in the rearview mirror. We also do not trust the Cowboys defense, especially the secondary(28th in pass defense) against the Bucs. The Bucs may rattle Prescott and force him to make some poor decisions and create turnovers. Jameis Winston and his dynamic playmakers like WR Mike Williams may be able to create enough explosive plays against a very bad secondary. If so, that will be the difference in a Buccaneers crucial road win late in the year.
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