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Interview with the Enemy: Dallas Cowboys

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David Halprin of Blogging with the Boys joins us to preview our Week 4 contest.

NFL: NOV 29 Saints at Cowboys Photo by Andrew Dieb/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

We’re back again with the next segment in the Interview with the Enemy series. This week, David Halprin of Blogging the Boys answers 5 quick questions before the Week 4 matchup on Sunday Night Football with the New Orleans Saints hosting the undefeated Dallas Cowboys.

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Are the Cowboys legit? Yes, they’re 3-0, but their opponents so far have been the 1-2 New York Giants (who should be 0-3 if not for a missed game-winning field goal), the 0-3 Miami Dolphins, and the 0-3 team from Washington. How much of the Cowboys success so far is a product of the quality of their opponent?

It’s impossible to know how much of the Cowboys 3-0 record is due to their own success and the failure of their opponents. As they say, you can only play the teams that are on your schedule. There are two main things that point to the Cowboys being legit. One is that they are not just winning, but winning by sizable margins. That’s what good teams should do, they should beat inferior opponents and beat them soundly. The other thing is that the Cowboys offense looks very different this year. The passing game is much more dangerous than in previous years while the running game is still formidable. New offensive coordinator Kellen Moore has revitalized the offensive side of the ball and it is paying off. Dak Prescott looks better, the play-calling is better and more unpredictable, and the execution is crisper. Players are being put in a position to succeed and the offensive line is playing like they did a few years ago when they were the best in football. So while the Cowboys haven’t really been tested yet, there is evidence they are a legit team.

Sean Payton is a master at creating schemes to attack opposing teams’ weaknesses (and no, you can’t have Sean. Stop asking). What is the biggest weakness on the Cowboys’ defensive side?

The Cowboys haven’t been able to generate a consistent pass rush yet. Going into the season we thought that may be a strength since they have a lot of quality pieces along the line but so far it just hasn’t materialized to the level needed. Robert Quinn coming back last week definitely helped, he looked quick and dangerous while disrupting the pocket. Paired with DeMarcus Lawrence, they should start seeing a better pass rush. But if not this will be a problem if a team has enough offensive weapons to take advantage like the Saints. The Cowboys have to get better in this area or they could get involved in a lot of shootouts.

Let’s saying you’re looking at the box score after the game, but you don’t know the end result of a win vs a loss. What is the over/under mark for passing yards from Teddy Bridgewater that would make you think the Saints won the game? How about the number of scrimmage yards for Alvin Kamara?

I’m not sure I’m really qualified to judge that since I haven’t studied the Saints offense enough under Bridgewater to make a legitimate call. Also, you never know how a game is going to turn out, whether it will be high-scoring or not. Consider the Cowboys and Saints game last year where no one thought a 13-10 score was going to happen. I will say the Cowboys number one priority will be containing Kamara. Last year they used a cornerback (Jourdan Lewis) in situations where Kamara was lined up as a receiver and that really helped. The Cowboys have a pair of sideline-to-sideline linebackers in Leighton Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith who will be tasked with slowing Kamara down. If Kamara goes over 100 yards rushing or has 75-100 yards receiving, that will be trouble for Dallas.

Who’s one player on the Cowboys that Saints fans might not be familiar with that you expect to make an impact on this game?

I’ll give you a couple. One is wide receiver Devin Smith. People might know his name from his college career at Ohio State, but he’s been a bust in the pros due to injury. He has revived his career in Dallas this year and will get significant playing time with starter Michael Gallup sidelined with a knee injury. Smith is a speedster and adds a dangerous element to the Cowboys receiving corps. He’s already had one long touchdown on the year and put up over 100 yards in two combined games where he’s seen action. Another guy is running back Tony Pollard. Ezekiel Elliott is still the guy, but Pollard and Elliott both out up 100+ yard games last week. He’s also a threat as a receiver or a screen guy, so he can be a weapon at running back in addition to Elliott.

What is your prediction for the game? Who wins? Final score?

Contrary to last year’s game, I think this year there will be points put up on the board by both teams. There are significant weapons on both teams on offense that won’t be held in check this year. It will be a tight game, but the Cowboys will pull it out with a late TD. Cowboys 28 - Saints 27.

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Thank-you, David, for taking the time to answer our questions. Saints fans, make sure you check out David and the work his guys are doing over at Blogging the Boys. You can follow Blogging the Boys on Twitter @BloggingtheBoys, and of course you can follow me @dunnellz.