Cowboys vs. Patriots – Game Preview – October 17, 2021

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DALLAS (4-1) at NEW ENGLAND (2-3)

Sunday, 4:25 p.m. EDT, CBS

OPENING LINE: Cowboys by 3 1/2, according to FanDuel SportsBook.

AGAINST SPREAD: Cowboys 5-0; Patriots 2-3.

SERIES RECORD: Cowboys lead 7-6.

LAST MEETING: The Patriots defeated the Cowboys 13-9 on November 24, 2019 in Foxborough, Massachusetts

LAST WEEK: Cowboys beat Giants 44-20; The Patriots beat the Texans 25-22.

COWBOY BREACH: GENERAL (2), RUSH (2), PASS (11), SCORE (2)

COWBOY DEFENSE: GENERAL (25), RUSH (5), PASS (31), SCORE (14T)

PATRIOT OFFENSE: GENERAL (26), RUSH (27), PASS (20), SCORE (26)

PATRIOT DEFENSE: GENERAL (5), RUSH (15), PASS (5), SCORE (5)

TURNOVER DIFFERENTIAL: Cowboys plus-7; Patriots minus-3.

COWBOY PLAYER TO WATCH: CB Trevon Diggs leads the NFL with six interceptions and has at least one in all five games. The sophomore can tie the NFL record of six straight games with at least one pick to start a season. Among those holding the record is the late Tom Landry, who coached the Cowboys for their first 29 seasons. He had interceptions in six straight games to kick off the 1951 season with the New York Giants. The others are Barry Wilburn with Washington (1987) and Brian Russell for Minnesota (2003).

PLAYER PATRIOTS TO WATCH: LB Matt Judon has been the leading defensive passer this season. He had two sacks and one fumble against Houston, his eighth career game with two or more sacks. He’s tied for second in the NFL with 6 1/2 sacks and is looking to get a sack for the fifth game in a row.

KEY MATCHUP: Cowboys running backs against the Patriots defensive line. After three straight weeks of 120 rushing yards or more, the Patriots limited the Texans to 67 rushing yards. They’ll need another big performance this week against a Dallas team that includes the duo of Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard, who combined for six rushing touchdowns.

KEY INJURIES: The Cowboys don’t expect to take WR Michael Gallup (calf sprain) out of the injured reserve before next week’s exemption. DE Dorance Armstrong (ankle) and S Donovan Wilson (groin) are also expected to stay out, although Wilson has returned to individual work for the first practice of the week. … Patriots RB Damein Harris (ribs) and RG Shaq Mason (abdomen) both missed the first practice of the week.

Play Notes SERIES
The Cowboys were 0-5 against the Patriots in Bill Belichick’s day, with a six-game losing streak overall. Dallas’ last win dates back to 1996, the last time the Cowboys defended the Super Bowl champions. The 1996 win was the last of seven straight wins to kick off the series for Dallas. … It’s a meeting between two of the top five teams in winning percentage of all time in the regular season. Dallas (.571) is No. 2, New England (.561) is fifth.

STATS AND THINGS: The Cowboys are looking for their first five-game winning streak since 2016, when QB Dak Prescott and Elliott were twin rookies leading an 11-game streak that took Dallas to 13-3 and the seed of the NFC playoffs. … with two takeaways, the Cowboys will tie the franchise record of 10 straight games forcing multiple turnovers. The other two 10-game series took place in 1970-71 and 1976-77. The current nine-game streak dating back to last season is a best in the NFL. … Dallas and Cleveland are the only teams with multiple 200-yard rushes. The Cowboys entered last week’s game averaging 201 yards in the previous three games and hit exactly that number against the Giants. … Prescott leads the NFL with 10 touchdown passes and has a 107.9 passer rating on blitzes. The Patriots kept the opposing QBs at 76.7 scoring and passer rating in the blitz. … Prescott ranks second in the league for the passer rating among qualified passers (116.9) and is one of four quarterbacks with a passer rating of 100 or more in four of his first five games this season . … Prescott can become Dallas’ first quarterback with at least three touchdowns in four straight games. … Elliott is in back-to-back 100-yard games for the first time in three straight games in 2019.… The Cowboys had two 100-yard receivers (Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb) in the 31-29 loss to Tampa Bay in the first game. They haven’t had one since, partly because of the success of the running game and partly because receivers and tight ends share the wealth. … Patriots QB Mac Jones ranks fifth in the NFL with a completion percentage of 71.1 and has a completion percentage of 70 or more in four of his first five career starts. … Jones can become the first rookie quarterback in NFL history with five games with a completion percentage of 70 or more (minimum 30 attempts). The only other rookies with four of those games were Justin Herbert (2020) and Prescott (2016), both of whom were Associated Press Offensive Rookie of the Year winners. … Jones has 135 career goals, tied with Joe Burrow (2020) for most by a rookie quarterback in his first five career starts in NFL history. Jones has a passer rating of 100 or more in two of three home starts and is looking to pitch for 270 yards or more for the fourth game in a row. … TE Hunter Henry led the team with six receptions for a season-high 75 yards and a touchdown last week against Houston. He’s looking for his third straight game with a TD catch. He had five catches for 76 yards and one touchdown in his only career game against Dallas (Nov. 23, 2017 with the Chargers). … LB Jamie Collins was fired in his first game since signing again with the Patriots last week. He had 10 tackles and a forced fumble in the 2019 game. … DB Kyle Dugger had a record 10 tackles last week.

FANTASTIC TIP: Elliott ranks fifth among running backs in scrimmage (507) this season and has 8,848 scrum yards in 76 career games.

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