Atlanta Falcons vs Dallas Cowboys Week 10: Know thy enemy

Matchup
Atlanta Falcons
4-4
Dallas Cowboys
6-2
Sunday, Nov 14
1 PM ET
FOX
Cowboys -9.0

Welcome to Week 10 of the 2021 NFL season. For the Dallas Cowboys and their fans, this week could not have come fast enough. After running off six straight wins, Dallas laid a dinosaur-sized egg against Denver last week, taking an embarrassing 30-16 loss that was nowhere near as close as that score looks.

Thankfully, the Cowboys have a chance to wash that horrible taste out of their mouth and get back to their winning ways. The Cowboys are back at it, in front of their home fans (hopefully), facing off against the 4-4 Atlanta Falcons.

Oddly, the Falcons were slightly helpful to Dallas last week, taking care of the New Orleans Saints in a shocking upset. That loss, coupled with losses from the Rams and Green Bay kept the Cowboys loss from being extremely detrimental.

The Dallas Cowboys will be a tough test for the Atlanta Falcons

On Sunday afternoon, the Cowboys look to pay their respect personally to Atlanta, by handing them the loss they gave New Orleans. In order to learn more about the Falcons, let’s settle in and get to know thy enemy a little better ahead of this Week 10 showdown.

There is a bit of a similarity between Atlanta and the Cowboys’ previous opponent, the Denver Broncos. Aside from the Saints, who were without their starting quarterback, the Falcons’ resume is not particularly impressive. Of their four wins, Atlanta has won by a total of 14 points over the Giants, Jets, Dolphins, and New Orleans.

This does not necessarily mean that the Falcons are a terrible team, however. Except from a Week 1 blowout and a fourth-quarter meltdown in Week 2, Atlanta has kept all of their losses close. Each game from that point on has been a one-score game.

Somehow, even with the ability of keeping games close, the Falcons do not stand out in any way. The best aspect of this team is their pass defense which currently is 13th best in the league. Even so, Atlanta struggles to keep teams from scoring, posting the fifth-worst scoring defense, allowing 27.5 points per game.

Two major components hinder the Falcons’ defense. The first is their inability to rush the quarterback. Currently, Atlanta has the lowest sack total in all of football with just 11 sacks. The Falcons also struggle mightily getting off the field on third down. Atlanta is 31st in this category, allowing teams to succeed on this crucial down 48% of the time.

Ultimately, the Cowboys represent the toughest test Atlanta will face since their Week 2 matchup against Tampa Bay. For all intents and purposes, the Cowboys are not a good matchup for the Falcons.

The Cowboys are one of the five best teams on third down, converting 46% of the time. They possess a quarterback in Dak Prescott who can pick teams apart when given time to throw the ball. Dallas scores the most second-half points in the league, putting up over 17 points after halftime, while Atlanta allows the most points in the second half, giving up more than 18 points in the final 30 minutes.

When I predicted each game of the season, prior to the start of the year, I had Dallas winning this game fairly easily. Last week’s debacle could give anyone pause in having confidence in this team or it could be looked upon as a blip on the radar. Making matters more difficult, the Cowboys will be without left tackle Tyron Smith again as well as their leading pass rusher in Randy Gregory.

All of that combined makes me think this game could be closer than many might think. I do believe that the Cowboys bounce back, however, earning the win. While they might struggle on defense, their offense should be able to carry the load, resulting in a 31-23 victory.