2 biggest X-factors for the Cowboys against the Buccaneers
1. Running the football
The Cowboys know that when they can run the football well, good things happen on offense. And when they don’t, they struggle to score points and move the ball.
There have only been two times this season where the Cowboys haven’t done much offense with Prescott under center, Week 1 against the Buccaneers and Week 18 against the Commanders. They scored three points on opening night and six points in the season finale.
In both of those games, the run game was nonexistent.
They rushed for 71 yards on 18 carries (3.9 yards/carry) in Week 1 and 64 yards on 27 carries (2.4 yards/carry) in Week 18.
The Cowboys have to win the battle upfront and that starts with the offensive line doing its job against a vicious Tampa front. Vita Vea is one of the better defensive tackles in the game and Dallas has to limit his impact on Monday night.
But unlike the first game, look for the Cowboys to get Tony Pollard more looks on offense. In the first meeting, Pollard had just six carries for eight yards.
But regardless if Pollard or Ezekiel Elliott gets the carries on Monday, the Cowboys are going to have to establish the run more than ever. It’ll open up the offense for Prescott more with the play-action fake.
When the Cowboys are gaining big yards on the ground, the pressure can be off of Prescott and he can take his shots down the field. That’s how the Cowboys will come away with the win.
The Buccaneers do have a great run defense no doubt but as a unit, they haven’t been as strong as 2021. Last season, they gave up 91.6 yards per game on the ground. This year, that number is up to 120.7.
Getting Vander-Esch back is a big boost for the defense, but if the Cowboys can rush for over 150 yards against the Buccaneers on Monday, that could help the outcome in Dallas’ favor.