Dallas Cowboys run defense must save their season

DeMarcus Lawrence, Dallas Cowboys (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
DeMarcus Lawrence, Dallas Cowboys (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /

The Dallas Cowboys’ run defense will need to save their season

Following their bye week, the 2-7 Dallas Cowboys still have the second-worst rushing defense in the NFL. They have allowed a whopping 157.0 yards on the ground per game to opposing offenses. And their upcoming schedule points to things only getting worse.

Granted, the Cowboys’ defense has played better over their past three games allowing an average of 24.0 points per contest, down from their 36.3 points per game average they gave up over their first six matchups this year.

And the run defense in Dallas over the past two games has improved as well. They allowed 119 rushing yards to the Philadelphia Eagles in Week Eight and a mere 46 total rushing yards to the undefeated Pittsburgh Steelers in Week Nine.

But the Cowboys are preparing to go through a gauntlet of NFL teams capable of running Dallas out of the building and crashing their postseason hopes. The biggest test comes this Sunday.

The Cowboys are set to face the Minnesota Vikings in Week 11. And that means a matchup against the NFL’s leading rushing in running back Dalvin Cook. The fourth-year star rushed for 1,135 yards and 13 touchdowns last season while averaging 4.5 yards per carry and earning his first Pro Bowl nomination.

Cook is on pace to shatter those numbers this year. He’s racked up 954 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns through eight games and is averaging 5.5 yards per attempt. Cook has rushed for 465 yards and five touchdowns over his previous three games include a whopping 206 yards on only 22 carries against the Detroit Lions in Week Nine.

Dallas Cowboys’ run defense collapsed versus Washington

In Week 12, the Cowboys will welcome their divisional foes, the Washington Football Team, to AT&T Stadium. And while Washington’s rushing offense ranks a lowly 30th in the NFL averaging just 91.9 yards per contest, they also had their best game against the Cowboys back in Week Seven running for a season-high 208 yards.

This gauntlet continues in Week 13 against the Baltimore Ravens in their house, M&T Bank Stadium. The Ravens currently possess the second-best rushing offense in the league averaging 164.0 yards on the ground per contest. They are led by quarterback Lamar Jackson, who ranks 13th among all players with 524 rushing yards.

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This is a critical three-game stretch for the Dallas Cowboys. And one where the team’s rushing defense will be put to the test. If they’re not up for the task, the Cowboys’ hopes for winning the NFC East division will likely disappear.