What to Expect: Bucs vs. Cowboys
The Dallas Cowboys will host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at AT&T Stadium for Sunday Night Football in Week 15. Both teams are gunning for their respective division titles. The Buccaneers are tied for first in the NFC South at 8-5 while the Cowboys have a more firm hold on the NFC East at 11-2.
The Bucs are coming off of a division win against the Saints, while the Cowboys are looking to bounce back from a tough division loss in which the Giants beat them for the second time in a row. Here's what to expect when the Cowboys meet up with the Buccaneers for Sunday Night Football in Week 15.
Both teams are led by young quarterbacks who are having great seasons. Winston was drafted in 2015 and currently has a quarterback rating of 89.6. He’s contributed 3,364 yards, has 23 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. Famous Jameis ranks 13th in the league against other passers.
Dak Prescott has been a rookie phenom for Dallas. Although he’s struggled the past two weeks, on the season his QBR is 102.7, he’s posted up 3,189 yards, 20 touchdowns and has four interceptions. He places slightly below Winston and is ranked 18th against other passers.
The Bucs and Cowboys each have an elite, physical receiver in Dez Bryant (DAL) and Mike Evans (TB). After a less than stellar performance in Week 14, expect Dez to be hungry for a win. Bryant has 50 receiving touchdowns since 2012, which is the most in the league. The Cowboys receiving core (Cole Beasley, Terrence Williams, and Brice Butler) will have to work together to come against the Buccaneers defense which is ranked seventh in total team defense.
The Cowboys run game has led the league for the majority of the season with rookie Ezekiel Elliott at 1,392 yards on the season with 287 carries and 12 touchdowns with four fumbles through 13 games. The Cowboys have had a rough past two weeks, as per their typical December struggles. Elliott is doing still a force to be reckoned with, averaging 96.5 yards over the past two games. The Bucs defense has been allowing over 110 rushing yards on average, so expect Zeke to have around 120 yards in this game.
The Cowboys flourish in time of possession and keeping the Bucs defense off the field will be a key component to winning this game. As a whole, the Dallas offense has an average of 385.2 yards per game (233.1 pass and 152.2 rush), are averaging 26.2 points per game with a 42.3% third down conversion percentage. Their success in third down situations has slowly decreased from 49% over the past four weeks.
The Cowboys defense is one of the most underrated in the NFL. They have 26 sacks, and 604 total tackles, five interceptions and 14 forced fumbles on the year. In Week 14, Sean Lee set a new team record with 22 recorded tackles in a single game.
Dallas’ defense is ranked 6th in total team defense. They’re allowing 360.5 yards per game on average (267.8 pass, 83.1 rush). With the Buccaneers offense averaging 250.3 pass and 104.8 rush yards, the Cowboys defense will need to step up their efforts in the secondary even more and continue to excel against the run.
On average, the ‘Boys are allowing 18.3 points per game, whereas the Bucs offense is scoring around 22.5 points per game. In the past two games, Dallas has held their opponents to 15 and 10 points, and if the trend continues, Winston’s hand may begin to cool in this game. The Cowboys are allowing conversions in third down situations 39% of the time on average, which is below the Bucs’ offense 44.4% on offense. Expect Tampa Bay to struggle on third down situations and slowly get more frustrated throughout the game.
Although both teams have explosive offenses, expect this to be a low-scoring matchup with two underrated defenses. With both teams working toward a division title, expect a primetime game worthy of Sunday Night Football.
Cowboys 14 Bucs 10