Gut Feeling: Staff Picks For Cowboys-Raiders
The Cowboys said last Sunday they were thankful it was a short week so they could get rid of the bad taste of the 19-9 loss to the Chiefs.
Well, here we are, just a few days later and the Cowboys and Raiders will square off for the annual Thanksgiving Day game.
The Cowboys have lost two of three while Las Vegas has dropped three straight.
The DallasCowboys.com staff gives their ‘gut feeling’ for this Week 12 matchup between the Raiders and Cowboys.
Rob Phillips: A large part of this matchup comes down to pass protection. The Raiders have two excellent edge rushers, Yannick Ngakoue and Maxx Crosby, and in the Cowboys’ last two losses, the Chiefs and Broncos were able to get some productive four-man rushes that allowed them to flood passing lanes in coverage. With left tackle Tyron Smith (ankle) trending toward a return to the lineup this week, that’s big. Just in general, though, I expect the Cowboys offense will be more comfortable with their communication back home, away from Arrowhead Stadium. The Dallas defense just played its best game, in my opinion, and they’ll need to build on that because Derek Carr can beat you with his arm, even though the Raiders haven’t cracked 20 points in any of their three straight losses. If Dak Prescott gets in better rhythm with cleaner pockets, I think the Cowboys get back on track, something like 27-23. Happy Thanksgiving, everybody.
David Helman: It’s easy to get shaken when you see a performance like Sunday’s, but I’m doing my best to look at the big picture here. The Cowboys will have at least something in the way of reinforcements on Thursday with Tyron Smith and (possibly) CeeDee Lamb returning to the lineup. They’re also at home, where they’ve played incredibly well for the most part this season. With Tyron back in the mix, I think this is a game where you try to let the ground game do the hard work for you. The Raiders can rush the passer, but I think you can mitigate that with a healthy dose of Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard. The Raiders are averaging just 14 points per game since their bye week, when they lost Henry Ruggs to that senseless tragedy. Derek Carr also has six turnovers in that same three-game span. I doubt it’s going to be the prettiest win, but for all those reasons I think it’s enough for the Cowboys to get a 25-16 Thanksgiving win.
Nick Eatman: All of my colleagues on “Cowboys Break” weren’t willing to go there with me, but I’m calling this a “must-win” game for Dallas. Sure, they’re still in first place whether they win or lose and there will be six games left on the schedule. But for this team to be the one they want to be, they’re going to have to win this game. Mentally, I think it’ll affect this team in a really bad way if they don’t come out and handle the Raiders. And I expect they will respond the way they did against the Falcons. Win by 40? No, not exactly but a crisp game in all three phases. Now it is Thanksgiving, so weird plays are expected. And a weird score at the end will probably happen. But I’ve got the Cowboys being the better team, playing a cleaner game and ultimately scoring more points. Big day for Cedrick Wilson and I’m calling another pick for Diggs! Give me Dallas, 28-19.
Kyle Youmans: After last week, I feel as if the expectations have all of a sudden taken a deep-dive from ‘contenders’ to ‘worrisome.’ I’m not on that boat. This team has shown me plenty to convince me that they have a chance to do something special. They’re missing a couple key pieces, but they’re still plenty talented to get the job done in a game like this. I expect for Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard to get back to form and put up over 150 yards rushing in a 27-21 Cowboys win.
Mickey Spagnola: Jimmy Johnson used to say of this Thanksgiving double, playing two games in five days that you go all out to win the Sunday game and try to rely on your talent to grind through Thanksgiving Day while tired and without much preparation. Well, with Tyron Smith returning and the Cowboys hopeful of CeeDee Lamb clearing concussion protocol, the Cowboys will grind out a 24-17 victory over the 5-5 Raiders who have failed to score more than 16 points during their current three-game losing streak. No holiday slaughter here but just enough turkey and dressing if you know what I mean.