The Dallas Cowboys are still banged up four weeks into the season, but they should get back standout guard Zack Martin and center Tyler Biadasz for Sunday's clash against the New England Patriots.
While Tyron Smith will miss his second straight game with a knee injury after he was a surprise scratch in Week 3, the (expected) returns of Martin and Biadasz will pay huge dividends for a Cowboys offense that was a lowly 1-of-5 in the red zone against the Cardinals.
In the game, Dak Prescott finished 25-of-40 for 249 yards and one touchdown and interception apiece. He was only sacked twice, but was under constant pressure and didn't have time to do a seven-step dropback to locate receivers downfield.
Provided Martin and Biadasz are back, it stands to reason Mike McCarthy will expand his playbook against the Patriots.
Beyond the state of Dallas' offensive line, though, is the fact that New England's secondary is decimated by injuries. The Patriots ruled out standout CB Jonathan Jones with an ankle injury, which means Bill Belichick will be without three of his top four cornerbacks in the game.
Patriots injury report gives Dak Prescott, Cowboys chance to dominate in Week 4
If there's any head coach who can make the most of a bad situation, it's Belichick. At some point, though, personnel matters and the Patriots' only available reliable cornerback is first-round stud Christian Gonzalez, who's allowed a 68.0 passer rating and just 9.9 yards per reception, per Pro Football Focus.
That said, Gonzalez hasn't traveled with No. 1 receivers. Jonathan Jones is the Patriots' primary nickel corner, which means McCarthy should get creative with CeeDee Lamb, akin to what we saw against the Jets in Week 2 when No. 88 posted 11 catches for 143 yards on a whopping 13 targets.
Of course, New England being down three of its top four cornerbacks should allow Dallas' other receivers -- namely Brandin Cooks -- to get open. Whereas Michael Gallup erupted in the Week 3 loss to the tune of 92 yards on six catches, Cooks managed just two catches for 17 yards on seven targets.
Granted, the injuries to the offensive line didn't allow Cooks much freedom to become a vertical threat last week. In two games, Cooks is averaging just 9.8 yards per catch, which is his lowest output since his rookie year in 2014.
What better time to unleash the speedy veteran than against a depleted Patriots secondary? Whether or not Cooks breaks out, CeeDee Lamb should eat and that should open up the entire passing game.
Make no mistake: Belichick will have a trick or two up his sleep to overcome these injuries, but the state of the cornerback room gives Prescott and the rest of the offense no excuse but to get back on track.