Jerry Jones has a vision for the Dallas Cowboys. A powerful blocking offense with great running backs and skill players overwhelms visitors to Jerry World, while a punishing defense remains affordable through some type of Cowboy magic. Special teams, decorum, coaching, all of the externals perfect. The whole 9 yards.
Or hopefully, even 10 yards. Or more. At a time.
Such simple concepts as moving the sticks have eluded the Cowboys at crucial times so far this season, to say nothing of the powerful offense and efficient D and immaculate decorum.
With the high-ambition ‘Boys struggling just to make ends meet again, NFL odds-makers has installed the visiting 2017-18 AFC Championship Game representative Jacksonville Jaguars as field goal favorites.
Who: Jacksonville Jaguars at Dallas Cowboys
When: Sunday, October 14th, 4:25 PM EST
Where: AT&T Stadium, Arlington, TX
Lines: Jax (-3) at Dal (+3) / O/U Total: (41.5)
Jacksonville’s defense may not be quite the juggernaut it was in 2017, but it’s still pretty damn good. Through 5 weeks, the Jags rank 3rd in defensive DVOA (16.9% better than league average); they’re 3rd against the pass and 7th against the run. The Cowboys, on the other hand, don’t really do anything well. They rank 26th in offensive DVOA (13.1% below league average), and 15th in defensive DVOA (right at average).
For all the struggles Dallas has had through 5 weeks, they’re tied for second in the wide-open NFC East with a 2-3 record. No one in the division has a winning record, and the Cowboys remain hopeful they’ll return All Pro center Travis Fredrick, dealing with Guillain-Barre syndrome, sometime in the near future:
Travis Frederick is not ruling out a return later in the Dallas Cowboys’ season, but the four-time Pro Bowl center acknowledged he still has a long way to go before he will be ready to play. Frederick was placed on injured reserve last week as he continues to battle the effects of Guillain-Barre Syndrome, an autoimmune disease that affects the nervous system. Frederick was diagnosed with the disease late in training camp, but the Cowboys opted to keep him on the active roster for the first four games.
The earliest he can return to game action is Dec. 9 against the Philadelphia Eagles.
Going on injured reserve “has nothing to do with where I’m going and how I’m getting better,” Frederick told ESPN.com. “It’s more about what I’ve missed so far. Basically, what it comes down to is the longer you spend not doing anything — and now I’m doing some stuff, but I’m not running and doing any football movements — the harder it is to get back and the longer it takes to get back. So we’re approaching the point where it was going to be another 4, 6, 7, 8 weeks of that sort of stuff on top of the recovery.”
Typical Cowboys. Bad luck, and a promissory note on a future that may never cash-in. But they’re still trying.
The Jaguars remain at 3-2 in a relatively wide open AFC South, tied for the lead with the Titans. An upcoming stretch of the Cowboys and Texas hope to see them get back to their 2017 form, when they won 10 games and made an AFC Championship appearance.
On paper, it’s a disastrous match-up for a Cowboys offense that seems to be stuck in the 1990s. Dallas has built this team though the offensive line and the running game, yet last week facing a 4th and 1 at the Houston 42-yard-line in overtime, Dallas punted. It’s a decision that was questioned by Jerry Jones:
“We were being outplayed there, not out-efforted but we were outplayed,” Jones said Sunday. “But it’s time for risk at that particular time. That’s not second-guessing, but we were taking some risk too at certain points in the game.”
When you have that offensive line and spend a 4th overall pick on a running back, those are the situations when you run the ball. Unsurprisingly, the Texans would win the game on the next possession with a 36-yard field goal.
The Jaguars still possess a questionable offense. Blake Bortles’ play is so inconsistent, that it’s hard to predict what you’re going to get from the Jacksonville QB. Bortles has been electric at times this year. He threw for 376 yards and 4 touchdowns in a win over the Patriots and 338 yards 2 weeks ago against the Jets. But when bad Blake shows up, it’s bad. Last week against the Chiefs he threw 4 interceptions. In a week three 9-6 loss to the Titans he managed only 155 passing yards. It’s the sort of inconsistency that makes it hard to imagine Jacksonville as a true Super Bowl contender. Bortles will be asked to string together 4 good games in a row in January.
I’m liking Jacksonville to out-class the Cowboys and win by at least a touchdown in Jerry World.