After an eventful week, it’s almost gameday once again for the Dallas Cowboys. DeMarcus Lawrence is supposedly back, Mike McCarthy is out, and Amari Cooper is questionable but expected to play. The Saints have decided who they’ll line up under center, and both teams are getting several of their superstars back into action for the primetime showdown. The stats seem to favor the Cowboys, though not by a lot… and the team isn’t taking any chances on the road.
Elsewhere, one former Cowboys quarterback is reportedly looking to get paid like another one doing the same job, Trysten Hill gets his suspension cut in half, and McCarthy’s success rate on fourth downs may surprise some in Cowboys Nation. All that, plus a look at pass rush in the latest mock draft in this edition of News and Notes.
Return of the Tank: Pairing of DeMarcus Lawrence, Micah Parsons could spark Cowboys’ resurgence :: Dallas Morning News
The defensive end is expected to be activated from injured reserve in time to play Thursday night. But this game is less about Lawrence’s return from foot surgery and more about the hope and promise he represents in a season that is suddenly in danger of going off the rails. Over the ten games he’s missed, Parsons has exploded to become a Defensive Player of the Year candidate. Now opposing offenses will have to worry about both of them.
Report: Amari Cooper to be activated from COVID list, expected to play vs New Orleans :: Cowboys Wire
The veteran wideout has been activated off the Reserve/COVID list, clearing the way for him to play Thursday night. If he indeed suits up, he’ll rejoin a receiving corps that includes Michael Gallup and CeeDee Lamb, both of whom have also missed time this year. The trio has been on the field together just twice so far this season, in Weeks 1 and 10.
Saints' Taysom Hill reportedly will start at quarterback vs. Cowboys; says he's ready to play :: CBS Sports
It’s Taysom Time in New Orleans. Saints head coach Sean Payton appears to be making a switch, replacing Trevor Siemian with his Swiss Army knife at quarterback. Hill has been dealing with a partial tear of the plantar fascia, but said he “felt pretty good” this week in practice.
Final Week 13 Injury Report: Saints' Kamara, Ingram ready to run as Cowboys start NFC gauntlet :: Cowboys Wire
The Saints get both members of their rushing duo back, while both of their usual offensive tackles- Terron Armstead and Ryan Ramczyk- are questionable to play. Two of their edge rushers (Marcus Davenport and Tanoh Kpassagnon) have also been ruled out.
Cowboys keep it simple on visit to The Big Easy before game :: Michael Gehlken (Twitter)
Advanced Stat Notebook- Cowboys have edge in DVOA but EPA too close to call :: Cowboys Wire
The advanced metrics predict a very close matchup in New Orleans. Offensive measurements lean toward a Dallas win, while the Saints hold the advantage in defensive categories. If there’s one metric that shows the Cowboys with a big edge, it’s Adjusted Net Yards Per Pass Attempt- no surprise with Prescott having an efficient season and the Saints’ passing game in disarray due to injuries.
NFL line movement: Bettors starting to doubt the Cowboys? :: Yahoo Sports
Dallas opened as 5.5-point favorites over the Saints, but now oddsmakers aren’t so sure. Uncertainty over Cooper’s status at wide receiver, chaos in the coaching staff with McCarthy’s COVID diagnosis, and the team’s lousy performances two weeks in a row have caused the line to drop a full point to 4.5.
Cowboys hope to assemble their Avengers for first time in 2021 :: Bobby Belt (Twitter)
NFL QB Index, Week 13: Lamar Jackson vexes; Russell Wilson tumbles :: NFL.com
A losing effort without Cooper and Lamb was partially redeemed by late-game heroics that forced overtime versus the Raiders. Prescott fell just two spots to No. 4 on Gregg Rosenthal’s QB Index; now he gets his top receivers back.
Suspension reduced to 1 game for Cowboys DT Trysten Hill :: Cowboys Wire
Hill’s original two-game suspension for throwing an open-handed punch at a Raiders offensive lineman after the teams’ Thanksgiving Day meeting has been cut to one game after Hill filed an appeal. He’ll miss Thursday night’s game in New Orleans and be eligible to return Dec. 12 versus Washington.
How good is your NFL coach on fourth-down calls? We rank all 32 :: ESPN
Coaches are on pace to dial up 838 fourth-down tries in 2021, a new NFL record (and not just because there will be 17 games). While it may not feel like it to Cowboys fans who more vividly remember the failed conversion attempts- like last Thanksgiving’s ill-fated fake punt- McCarthy is better than most at it. He ranks 11th leaguewide in fourth-down success.
Cowboys mock draft analysis: Defense again the Round 1 focus with edge rusher Cameron Thomas :: The Athletic
Dane Brugler, The Athletic’s draft expert, published his first mock of the season this week. He had Dallas selecting edge rusher Cameron Thomas from San Diego State in the 25th slot. Makes sense, given Randy Gregory and Dorance Armstrong entering free agency at season’s end. But while Thomas could fill a major area of need, it shouldn’t be a surprise if, for the third consecutive year, the Cowboys end up picking the best overall player available.
Troy Aikman reportedly eyeing 'Tony Romo money' :: 105.3 The Fan
The Fox analyst and former Cowboys quarterback apparently wants to earn something along the lines of what the former Cowboys quarterback over in CBS’s lead booth is making. Aikman has one year left on his current contract; if he wants Romo money, he’ll likely have to take a second gig doing Amazon Prime Video’s Thursday games (as he has been linked to) beginning next year. That could mean calling 35 to 40 games over the course of a single season for the three-time Super Bowl champ.