GAME PREVIEW: COLTS VS. COWBOYS
- Indianapolis Colts (4-7-1) at Dallas Cowboys (8-3)
- Line: Cowboys (-10.5) | O/U 44.5
The Indianapolis Colts will visit AT&T Stadium Sunday night for an interconference matchup against the Dallas Cowboys. The Colts rallied from a 13-point halftime deficit Monday night before suffering a 24-17 setback to the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Cowboys cruised to a 28-20 victory over the New York Giants on Thanksgiving in a game that was not as close as the final score indicated.
The Cowboys have won four out of five games since Dak Prescott returned from a thumb injury and are 5-1 at home this season. Matt Ryan is back under center for the Colts but is 1-2 with two touchdowns and one interception since regaining the starting job. Indianapolis has a 2-3-1 road mark and has lost five of its previous six games.
Indianapolis has struggled to put points on the board and has scored 17 or fewer points in nine games this season. The Colts are ranked 30th with 15.8 points per game and have surpassed 21 points on just two occasions.
Ryan was benched for a pair of games and has had a lackluster season with 11 scoring passes and 10 picks. The 15th-year quarterback is averaging 211 passing yards in his past three games and has yet to complete a pass over 44 yards in nearly 400 pass attempts.
Jonathan Taylor paces the Colts’ 25th-ranked rushing attack and is 10th in the league with 779 yards. Last year’s NFL rushing leader has also found the end zone in three straight games. Undrafted second-year running back Deon Jackson has 130 yards and one touchdown on 42 carries.
Michael Pittman is the leading receiver for a passing offense, ranked 11th with 245.5 yards per game. The USC product has caught 74 balls for 739 yards and two scores. Parris Campbell (46-454-3) and Alec Pierce (28-424-1) have combined for 74 catches, 878 yards, and four touchdowns.
Indianapolis’ defensive unit is headlined by linebacker Zaire Franklin, who is second in the NFL with 121 tackles. Linebacker Bobby Okereke has recorded 99 tackles, and cornerback Kenny Moore has added 65. The Colts are ranked 5th in total yards allowed, with 308.9 per game.
Defensive end Yannick Ngakoue has posted a team-high 8.5 sacks for a squad ranked 10th with 31 quarterback takedowns. DeForest Buckner (5.5), Kwity Paye (4), Grover Stewart (3), and Ifeadi Odenigbo (2.5) have tallied 15 combined sacks.
The Colts’ fifth-ranked pass defense allows just 190.5 passing yards a game. Rodney McLeod, Stephon Gilmore, Rodney Thomas, and Shaquille Leonard have all picked off one pass.
Dallas boasts the NFL’s seventh-ranked scoring offense with 25.4 points a game despite Prescott missing five games. The Cowboys are averaging 36.2 points over their past four games and have posted 40-plus points in two of those contests.
Seventh-year quarterback Dak Prescott has tossed 10 touchdowns and five interceptions since returning to action in Week 7. The Mississippi State product has thrown two-plus scoring passes in four straight outings and is averaging 267 passing yards over the past three weeks despite the Cowboys’ run-heavy offensive attack.
The Cowboys feature one of the NFL’s top backfields with Tony Pollard and Ezekiel Elliott. Pollard is the league’s No. 11 rusher with 761 yards and six touchdowns. The fourth-year back has also caught 23 passes for 244 yards and a pair of scores. Elliott has tallied 577 yards and seven touchdowns for Dallas’ seventh-ranked rushing attack.
CeeDee Lamb is the leading receiver with 64 receptions for 857 yards and five scores. Tight end Dalton Schultz has reeled in 33 passes for 310 yards and three touchdowns, while Noah Brown has caught 28 balls for 384 yards and one score.
Linebacker Micah Parsons is second in the NFL with 12 sacks for the Cowboys’ second-ranked scoring defense. The Penn State product is also third in the league with three forced fumbles. Linebacker Leighton Vander Esch leads the team with 75 tackles, and safety Donovan Wilson has added 70.
Dallas tops the league with 45 sacks. Dorance Armstrong is second on the squad with eight, while DeMarcus Lawrence (6) and Dante Fowler (5) have combined for 11 sacks.
Cornerback Trevon Diggs has a team-high three interceptions for a defensive unit that ranks first in passing yards allowed with 177.7 yards per game. However, the Cowboys rushing defense is ranked 24th and allows 131.9 rushing yards per game.
COLTS VS. COWBOYS PREDICTION
Both teams will lean heavily on the running game in a matchup that looks lopsided on paper. Taylor should be able to find more than a few running lanes against a suspect Dallas run defense, but Indianapolis will be in for a long night if the Cowboys race out to an early lead and force the Colts to put the ball in the air.
Ryan has been sacked seven times over the past two weeks and faces the NFL’s top pass rush Sunday night in a hostile environment. The Cowboys’ defense is playing at an extremely high level, and the Colts must establish the running game early to slow down Dallas’ stout pass rush.
Dallas has not lost at AT&T Stadium since September 12 and is well-rested after a 10-day break. The pressure will be on the Colts’ defense to create some turnovers, or else we could see Cooper Rush relieving Prescott with the Cowboys dominating the game. The visitors will have a long night if Taylor does not have a big game.
Prediction: Dallas Cowboys 34, Indianapolis Colts 20
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Marvin is a sports fanatic who enjoys writing, daily fantasy sports, and coaching baseball. The native Texan loves traveling overseas and experiencing new cultures. Marvin is an avid fisherman and his favorite hobby is cooking Asian cuisine with his wife. People-watching at outdoor cafes, visiting different zoos, and watching vintage wrestling videos are among his favorite pastimes. He is fascinated with King Cobras, the Himalayan mountains, and the street dogs of Bhutan. His favorite TV shows include The Rifleman, Gunsmoke, and Have Gun – Will Travel. Marvin has coached baseball in Switzerland, Philippines, Brunei, and Bhutan.