The Dallas Cowboys are coming off the bye in which they are riding a two-game losing streak. Offensively the team has done more than enough to win both contests but unfortunately the defense wasn’t able to hold up. Not all of it can be placed on the defense as the offense wasn’t as consistent in the second half of each contest as they were in the first.
Needless to say, there's a lot of blame to go around for the current 2-3 record but Dallas can help to right the ship with a big performance against San Francisco.
The Cowboys will need that strong showing in a game that can be viewed as something close to a must-win. Should they lose to the winless 49ers, Dallas would fall two games below .500 and almost four games back of the NFC East leading Eagles only seven weeks into the season and the schedule only getting tougher from here on out.
These five players should be watched closely on Sunday as the Cowboys get back to work.
- The team sorely missed the presence of Sean Lee over the last two games. With Lee the team gave up an average of 87.3 yards rushing per game and 20.7 points per game. Those numbers are slightly skewed by the Denver game. Without Lee the team has given up 164 yards rushing and 35 points per game without him.
- Sean Lee is as big for the defense as Dak Prescott is for the offense. The team desperately needs his leadership, his football intellect, and his ability to tackle on the field. Tackling is something they have been missing on the backend without Barry Church and J.J. Wilcox. Look for the defense to get a whole lot better on Sunday with him.
- In six games this season, the 49ers have given up five 100 yard receiving games to five players. This should be a good opportunity for Dez Bryant to take over a game and give the running game some breathing room.
- Incredibly, Bryant has only played in one game against the 49ers in his career back in 2012. He recorded four catches on six targets for 55 yards.
- The team hasn’t been as potent running the ball as they were in 2016 but that hasn’t stopped second-year quarterback Dak Prescott. He is currently on pace for 3,800 yards passing and 41 total touchdowns. Dak has been everything this offense has needed to keep themselves in games.
- In their matchup last season, Dak threw for 245 yards and two touchdowns to escape with a 24-17 victory. Prescott needs a big game along with Bryant to open up opportunities to Ezekiel Elliott and the running game.
- Irving couldn’t have played much better than he did against the Green Bay Packers with two sacks of Aaron Rodgers. Now factor in the surprise retirement of DT Stephen Paea, and Irving will see extended playing time on the inside of the defensive line. His time is now.
- In the San Francisco game of 2016, Irving made no impact. He should get some chances to be disruptive with teams focusing on DeMarcus Lawrence.
- Despite the recent attention, Tank Lawrence is still finding ways to make plays in the passing game. He is now up to 8.5 sacks through the first five games. That is his career-high with almost three quarters of the season to go.
- 49ers’ quarterback C.J. Beathard likes to get outside the pocket so it will be the job of the Dallas ends to play contain and corral the passer on Sunday. Lawrence will need to shut down the quarterback because Dallas has shown the inability to contain mobile quarterbacks in recent memory.
Which Cowboys players will you be watching this Sunday? Share 'em with Patrick on Twitter @DraftCowboys.