Week 15 Tale Of The Tape: Dallas Cowboys At Oakland Raiders
- QuarterbackThe Cowboys have played two excellent games in a row and they are on the verge of turning their season back in the right direction. It may be too late to earn a playoff spot, but the Cowboys are a fired-up group going into the final week. Dak Prescott had some difficulties in his first few games without Elliott, but he has regained his rhythm and he is a dangerous leader once again.The Raiders played a big game last week at Kansas City, and while the Chiefs were reeling, at the time with six losses in seven games, Oakland could not take advantage. Derek Carr looked like an MVP candidate a year ago, but he has struggled quite a bit this season. He is going to have to improve his 7.00 average yards per throw if the Raiders are going to be competitive here.
- OffenseAfter a lull in the third quarter of the season, the Cowboys have regained much of their offensive persona and they are playing with aggression and they have been effective. Alfred Morris is a solid runner who is not going down after first contact. Dez Bryant can be a breakaway runner when he gets away from the tackler and Jason Witten is a brilliant third-down weapon.The Raiders are not a diverse and multi-pronged attack, and that’s what they were a year ago. If they are going to beat the Cowboys, they will have to get physical and that’s likely the domain of Marshawn Lynch. Tight end Jared Cook has become Carr’s top receiver with 48-621-2, while Michael Crabtree has caught 49-562-6 with eight plays of 20 yards or more.
- DefenseThe Cowboys are a middle-of-the-pack defensive team, but they have the kind of athletic personnel that indicates they should perform much better than that. The Cowboys have the ability to rush the quarterback, and when they have Demarcus Lawrence and David Irving in the lineup together, they are a very scary unit.The Raiders needed to come up with an excellent effort in their Week 14 game at Kansas City, but they did very little in the early part of the game and the Chiefs were able to punish them. Defensive end Khalil Mack is both the defense’s best player and leader, and he needs to make big plays. Mack leads the Raiders with 8.5 sacks, while outside linebacker Bruce Irvin has 7.5 sacks.
- Special TeamsThe Cowboys have shown quite a bit of improvement on special teams as the season has progressed, and much of that is due to speed and quickness of return specialist Ryan Switzer. Dan Bailey has battled injury problems and has had a couple of misses, but he is dependable when the game is on the line.The Raiders have also shown some improvement on special teams, and they have a game-changing weapon in Cordarrelle Patterson. He has the speed to break a TD return, but the has not hit a homerun yet. Marquette King is averaging 48.2 yards per punt.
The Raiders did not show up against the Chiefs until the game was all but decided. That won’t work against the Cowboys any better than it did against their archrivals.