It’s not easy to win six games in a row in the NFL, especially when requiring a backup quarterback to start on the road. Yet that’s exactly what the Dallas Cowboys have done in 2021. The winning streak is the longest the team’s had since 2016 when starting quarterback Dak Prescott and running back Ezekiel Elliott were rookies.
There’s no question it was an impressive win for the Cowboys over the Minnesota Vikings, but just around the corner there’s a new challenge. The Denver Broncos are next on the schedule and they’re coming off a win over the Washington Football Team. Here’s a six-pack of things to know about the Broncos as the Week 9 game approaches.
(Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)
The Cowboys will be catching a break, they won’t have to face the talented linebacker, who was traded by the Broncos to the Los Angeles Rams prior to Tuesday’s deadline. Von Miller is a Dallas native who attended Texas A&M, so the trade means he won’t be coming home and getting a chance to beat the Cowboys.
Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy on Von Miller trade before Sunday's game vs. Broncos: "I was glad to see him go to the Rams this week." Less concerned about potential playoff matchup in January, as Miller strengthens an NFC contender.
— Michael Gehlken (@GehlkenNFL) November 1, 2021
In the last meeting between the two teams, Miller picked up two sacks and he does have 4.5 on the season. With the Cowboys possibly without their two starting tackles, it’s nice not to have to worry about Miller coming off the edge.
A familiar face will be playing though
Patrick Surtain has allowed fewer than 40 yards in coverage in 7 of his 8 career games 👀
The rookie has been 🔒⬇️ pic.twitter.com/RT36ehdic5
— PFF (@PFF) November 1, 2021
It was no secret the Cowboys needed cornerback help in the 2021 NFL draft. The team had their eye on Patrick Surtain II, out of Alabama. Surtain was ranked as one of the top CB prospects in the draft and the prevailing thought was the Cowboys had him on a short list of players they wanted to draft with the 10th pick overall. The Cowboys got to know Surtain well in the draft process and attended the Alabama pro day.
The Broncos held the ninth pick and selected Surtain just ahead of the Cowboys, who many believe would’ve taken the CB if he remained on the board. It might not have been the biggest need for the Broncos, but Surtain has played well as a rookie.
The Cowboys obviously can’t be too upset, their pick of linebacker Micah Parsons has also been a home run, but they’ll get a good look at Surtain in this game.
No fly zone?
With Surtain playing like a top CB, the passing defense for the Broncos is among the best in the league. They are giving up less than 225 yards a game through the air and have allowed just nine passing scores through the first eight weeks of the season, which is tied for second fewest in the NFL.
The Cowboys represent a big challenge, however. The Broncos have only played two teams inside the top 15 in passing and both quarterbacks had over 300 yards passing. Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Derek Carr had 341 yards and two touchdowns against the Broncos secondary, while Baltimore Ravens signal caller Lamar Jackson threw for 316 yards and a score.
Dallas ranks third in the league in passing at over 300 yards a game, so it’ll be clear if the Broncos can slow down a good passing game, or if they’re only good against bad teams.
Broncos take a lot of sacks
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
One of the weaknesses of the Broncos offense is their inability to avoid sacks. Quarterbacks Teddy Bridgewater and Drew Lock have been sacked a combined 25 times this season, which is third worst in the league.
The Dallas defense ranks among the NFL’s worst in sacks, with just 12 on the year. Only three teams have fewer than the Cowboys, so they have been struggling to take down the QB.
It shouldn’t be a problem for the Cowboys to be able to get pressure on Bridgewater and hopefully create some turnover worthy plays.
Two-headed rushing attack
Like most teams these days, the Broncos have two solid running backs. Although they aren’t a great rushing team, ranking 20th at just over 100 yards a game, the Broncos do average 4.4 yards per carry. Veteran RB Melvin Gordon leads the team in rushing with 397 yards, while rookie Javonte Williams has racked up 355 yards on the ground. The duo has also combined for four rushing touchdowns.
Denver’s offense isn’t very explosive, but they do move the ball methodically down the field. The Cowboys need to try and keep them from wearing down the defense, especially after playing on Sunday night.
Cowboys haven’t beaten the Broncos in a long time, which might be a good sign
It’s been a long time since the Cowboys have beaten the Broncos, 26 years. The year was 1995 and Dallas won 31-21 behind quarterback Troy Aikman’s two touchdown passes and running back Emmitt Smith’s 114 rushing yards and a score.
Since that game, the Cowboys are 0-6 against the Broncos. They only play every four years, but there have been some brutal losses in those defeats.
The overtime loss on Thanksgiving in 2005 was heartbreaking, but not nearly as crushing as the 2013 defeat where the Cowboys put up 48 points and lost. Denver was undefeated and quarterback Tony Romo had one of his best statistical games, racking up 506 yards passing and five touchdowns. Unfortunately, his interception late in the fourth quarter, which led to the game-winning field goal by the Broncos, is all most remember.
There is some silver lining in all this, though. The Cowboys have exercised some demons this season, defeating every team they haven’t beaten in several years, and the Broncos are the last team on the list.
Also, the last time the Cowboys beat the Broncos, was the last time Dallas won the Super Bowl. That’s a great sign for the Cowboys and their fans if they can come away with a win.