Preview: Titans at Cowboys
The Dallas Cowboys and Tennessee Titans each have the luxury of playing in mediocre divisions, but both teams are in danger of falling too far back in their respective conference playoff pictures with another loss. The Titans and Cowboys also share the similarities of owning identical 3-4 records while coming off a loss and a bye heading into Monday night’s clash in Dallas.
The game will mark the Cowboys debut of wide receiver Amari Cooper, who was acquired from Oakland for a first-round draft pick to put some juice in Dallas’ struggling offense. “He’s electrifying. He’s one of those guys you hold your breath every time he catches the ball,” running back Ezekiel Elliott told reporters regarding Cooper. “He’s a great addition to this offense and I’m excited.” The bye week couldn’t come soon enough for Tennessee, which followed a three-game winning streak by scoring a total of 31 points during a three-game slide that includes a pair of one-point defeats. “It’s our fault, you know what I’m saying?” Titans Pro Bowl safety Kevin Byard told reporters. “We’re not doing the right things to win these games, and we have to find ways to turn that around.”
TV: 8:15 p.m. ET, ESPN. LINE: Cowboys -5.5. O/U: 40.5
ABOUT THE TITANS (3-4): Marcus Mariota injured his elbow in the season opener and has been dealing with numbness in his throwing hand, but he finally was able to discard the glove he’s been wearing since getting hurt. That, and the loss the of tight end Delanie Walker to a season-ending injury in Week 1, has contributed to Mariota’s woes – he has thrown three touchdown passes and five interceptions while being held to 129 yards or fewer in four of his six games. The running back tandem of Dion Lewis and Derrick Henry also has struggled, although Lewis gained 155 yards from scrimmage in Tennessee’s last contest. The Titans rank 19th in the league against the run, permitting 112.3 yards per game.
ABOUT THE COWBOYS (3-4): The offseason departures of Dez Bryant and Jason Witten has grounded Dallas’ aerial attack, prompting the move to bring in Cooper to jump-start a passing offense ranked 29th in the NFL (183.1 yards). Whether Cooper is the answer for Dak Prescott remains to be seen – the former No. 4 overall pick had 48 receptions and seven touchdowns last season while recording 22 catches and one score for the Raiders this year before the trade. The Cowboys have the league’s fourth-ranked ground game thanks to Elliott, who is second in the NFL in rushing with 619 yards and has three 100-yard performances. Dallas ranks third overall in total defense (313.7) and against the pass (217.4).
1. Dallas (17.6) and Tennessee (18.1) rank second and third, respectively, in the NFL in points allowed.
2. Mariota has thrown 24 TD passes and seven interceptions in his last 12 games versus NFC opponents.
3. Cowboys DE Demarcus Lawrence has registered seven sacks in his last five home contests.