As the Dallas Cowboys prepare for their showdown with defending NFC champions Atlanta Falcons, I was able to go behind enemy lines and get an inside look at the team from Georgia. Our own Matt Urben, in addition to covering the Cowboys, covers various teams over a few different platforms. One of those teams happens to be the Falcons. Check out what Matt had to say ahead of Sunday’s game.
TI: After starting out 3-0 the Falcons have gone 1-4 since. In your opinion what have been the biggest issues during their recent downward spiral?
MU: The Falcons have struggled to close out games all season. Even in their early-season victories, they were a play or two away from losing in the final seconds. The offense has made some big plays but has been unable to sustain any kind of consistency in comparison to last season, which has brought down a great deal of criticism on O.C. Steve Sarkisian.
TI: The Cowboys could be without Tyron Smith, Dez Bryant, Terrance Williams and Ezekiel Elliott on Sunday. What does the Atlanta injury situation look like?
MU: Atlanta had several key guys limited throughout the week, yet it looks like most of them will play. Devonta Freeman, Desmond Trufant, Takk McKinley and Julio Jones are all supposed to go. Rookie linebacker Duke Riley is still out with a knee injury. Kicker Matt Bryant is dinged up but will play.
TI: With the potential of being shorthanded on offense, how can the Cowboys best attack the Falcons defense?
MU: The Falcons have playmakers all over their defense. The best thing the Cowboys can do is stick to their bread and butter of running the ball, even without Elliott, in order to set up easy completions. Keanu Neal and Deion Jones will be flying all around the ball but Atlanta isn’t the biggest team up front and can be run on. Dallas must keep the game close and not allow Atlanta tee off rushing the passer.
TI: On the flip side, what does the Dallas defense have to do to continue to keep that Atlanta offense in check?
MU: The Cowboys are going to give up some big yardage to Julio Jones and the Falcons passing attack in general, but the key will be keeping their frustrated offensive unit out of the end zone. Atlanta has been top five in passing yardage, yet middle of the pack in points scored. If they can bend but not break, they can win this game.
TI: What is your gut feeling on the outcome Sunday? Final Score?
MU: The losses of Tyron Smith, Ezekiel Elliott and potentially Dez Bryant are concerning. But after watching these two teams closely, Dallas is playing better football right now. Atlanta, meanwhile, has almost no momentum even in their impressive new stadium. The Cowboys pull away late against a fragile looking Falcons team. Cowboys win 31-28.
Thanks to Matt for his time, and make sure you follow all of his work covering the Falcons here.
For an additional preview of this week’s game be sure to check out our 2 Point Cowboys Podcast which airs every Wednesday night.