Before the two teams square off, here are three bold predictions for the matchup.
1) The Falcons defense fails to record a single sack
When you think of recent matchups between the Cowboys and Falcons, one game tends to come to mind. Week 10 of 2017, or better known as “The Chaz Green Game.” In that matchup, Green had one of the worst single-game performances in NFL history. The tackle was credited with allowing seven pressures and four sacks, and had a Pro Football Focus pass-block grade of 0.0 Yes, legitimately zero.
As a team, the Cowboys got abused by the Falcons defensive line. Atlanta walked away with 22 pressures and eight sacks on the day, giving Dak Prescott possibly the worst beating of his career.
While that horrific game still certainly does linger in the minds of Cowboys fans, this week they’ll put a much better performance on tape. The Dallas offensive line got whooped last week, plain and simple. Denver dominated the game in the trenches, recording 25 total pressures, 19 QB hurries, and three sacks. The Broncos played very well, don’t get me wrong, but that game was more a result of a lackluster performance by the Cowboys than anything else.
This week, the Cowboys, and in particular their offensive line, have a great shot to bounce back against the Falcons. Atlanta has been arguably the worst pass-rushing team in football this season. The Falcons are ranked by PFF as the worst pass-rush unit in the league, and they have recorded just 11 sacks, the fewest in the NFL.
Even with Tyron Smith still, out, the Cowboys’ offensive line is going to get right this Sunday. Dallas will keep Dak Prescott’s pocket clean all day, and the Falcons won’t record a single sack on the Cowboys’ signal-caller.
2) Michael Gallup scores a 50+ yard touchdown
With as bad as the Falcons have been on defense this season, one thing they have done fairly well is limit big plays. Atlanta has allowed 25 plays of 20+ yards, tied for seventh in the NFL, and is the only team in the league who is yet to allow an offensive play over 40 yards. Unfortunately for the Falcons, that’s going to change Sunday.
With Michael Gallup back in the fold, the Cowboys are going to get back the ability to beat defenses over the top. Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb both can beat you deep, but Gallup is the Cowboys true deep-ball specialist.
Outside of second-year corner A.J. Terell, the Falcons don’t have a ton of talent in the secondary. The team’s number two corner, Fabian Moreau, has struggled this season, allowing 25 catches for 258 yards and holding a 120.6 passer rating when targeted.
Atlanta likely will matchup Terell on primarily Cooper or Lamb, allowing Gallup to go up against other less-talented members of the secondary, like Moreau.
The Cowboys have been waiting for Gallup’s return for a long time, and he’s going to make a statement on Sunday. The free-agent-to-be wideout hauls in a 50+ yard touchdown pass and immediately shows the impact he can have on the offense.
3) The Cowboys (finally) convert a fake punt
Last season, the Cowboys and fake punts were not a good combination. In Week 2 against Atlanta, Dallas attempted two fake punts and failed both times. Later in the season on Thanksgiving, the Cowboys attempted one of the worst-executed fake punts in recent NFL history, once again failing to convert.
Even after all the failure, we know Cowboys special teams coordinator John Fassel is never one to shy away from being aggressive, sometimes to a fault.
After last week’s dud of a performance, Dallas is going to be looking for something early in this game to provide a spark, and they’re going to find it in a fake punt. Dallas will convert the fake and ultimately turn the drive into a touchdown, giving them a double-digit lead that will last the rest of the way.