In perhaps the largest upset of the 2018 regular season, the Dallas Cowboys held on to defeat the New Orleans Saints 13-10. There are a variety of talking points to come from this Week 13 victory, but here are three statements the Cowboys made with their victory on Thursday night:
1. The Dallas Cowboys are the best team in the NFC East, and it’s not by default
Regardless of the outcome for the rest of Week 13, the Dallas Cowboys will hold the lowest overall standing among divisional favorites. However, over the course of the last four weeks, it’s apparent that this franchise is playing much better than their 7-5 record.
Many will write off the Cowboys because of the weak divisional play by the Washington Redskins, Philadelphia Eagles, and New York Giants. By the numbers, the Cowboys are the only team within the NFC East with a positive +/- in scoring differential, and now hold the second-longest winning streak (behind the Chicago Bears) in the NFL.
Even with Alex Smith under center in Week 12’s Thanksgiving game, I don’t think the Cowboys would have suffered a loss. The Philadelphia Eagles and New York Giants are playing mediocre football, but are just as talented as other franchises in the hunt. It’s time we stop writing off the NFC East, and start respecting the Dallas Cowboys for their play.
2. The Dallas Cowboys defense isn’t the best, but it’s awfully close
We continue to discredit the Dallas Cowboys defense because of their lack of experience and penalty tendency, but there is a lot of grit to this defensive unit. The Cowboys rank 3rd in points allowed per game, and 12th in sacks.
On Thursday night, the Cowboys got to Drew Brees for 2 sacks, forced a fumble that was overturned due to Randy Gregory lining up in the neutral zone, and came away with an interception to put the game away. Brees was held to a QBR of 71.6, which is his lowest this season.
The Baltimore Ravens and Chicago Bears have superior overall defensive rosters, but the gap is slimming down. As long as penalties don’t become a force of habit, there is a chance the Cowboys finish the season as one of the best defenses in football.
3. Jerry Jones will have a lot to think about when contract negotiations arise
Down the list, the Dallas Cowboys have a lot of players that are in need of updated contracts in the next two seasons. Among the names are Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliot, Amari Cooper, La’el Collins, DeMarcus Lawrence, Byron Jones, and Jaylon Smith.
There is no physical way the Cowboys can give all those players the contracts they deserve without watering down the rest of the roster. Which players do the Cowboys keep, and which do they decide to move on from? This particular game allowed for Jerry Jones to witness the true potential of this defense, but also just how important those aforementioned offenses pieces can be.
Week 13 cements the Dallas Cowboys as not only the clear favorite in the NFC East, but places them among the contenders in the NFC. The old saying goes “in order to be the best, you have beat the best”. On Thursday night, the Cowboys got one step closer to the top of the totem pole.
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