Had it not been for a mistake and a false penalty in the first game of the season in Tampa Bay, the Dallas Cowboys would have started the year with a brilliant 5-0 record at Gillette Stadium on Sunday.
Meanwhile, the Patriots are lucky enough that the Texans’ coaching staff decide to act cute enough to prove to everyone how stupid they are. New England’s two wins this season have come against teams combined 2-8 this year, and the Patriots have become unusually undisciplined under Bill Belichick’s tutelage.
But it’s also a make-or-break moment for the Patriots. A loss knocks the team down to 2-4 in the year, and we’re better off talking about draft picks than New England’s playoff chances.
To find the last time a Patriots team started 0-4 at Foxborough, you have to go back to 1993. Maybe it’s no coincidence that that team was finding its way behind rookie quarterback Drew Bledsoe.
He went 5-11 that season as well.
Chances are, we could be playing a similar season behind Mac Jones. Very big place for Patriots on Sundays. If you lose, 5-11 is probably your destiny. Take the upset and suddenly the team is 3-3 and the Jets wait in the wings.
Potential pockets popping up here and there will open a more consistent window on Sunday? Will the Patriots defense prove their place in the top five statistically? Or will we get the performance that makes Davis Mills look like Warren Moon? How will they limit Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, Amari Cooper, Cedee Lamb, etc.?
How they plan to answer these questions will help guide the direction of this team for the rest of the year. Just who are the Patriots?
Emmanuel Morgan, New York Times: Cowboys (-4). “Dallas (4-1) is on a three-game winning streak, Dak Prescott’s 13 touchdown passes share the league’s third-best finish, and the Cowboys’ defense looks legitimate. The Patriots (2-3) did not find such consistency. New England needed a fourth-quarter rally to beat the Texans last week, and the Patriots’ offensive line injuries (the fight with Trent Brown hit the injured reserve list this week) means Mac Jones will have to think fast against the pressure – not a good scenario Trevon Against a team that started Diggs as a secondary. Dallas will want to go into the bye week at the top.”
Jim Derry, NOLA.com: Cowboys straight, They’ll explode (+4). “This spread was New England -3 as late as September 1. So what changed in six weeks? It’s the best thing Dak Prescott, Roger Staubach or Troy Aikman have ever had, and off their shoulders, Ezekiel Elliott, Emmitt Smith, and Cee Dee Lamb since Michael Irvin. Give me a break.
Joe Giglio, NJ.com: Patriots (+4). “Let’s call it a hunch. Call it a coaching game. let’s call it a feeling Bill Belichick The team won’t start 0-4 at home and the Cowboys will be back to earth.”
Pete Prisco, CBS Sports: Cowboys 33, Patriots 23. “While the Cowboys have four wins in a row, the Patriots haven’t been looking good for the past two weeks, losing one and getting a close win with the Texans. The Dallas defense has made great strides, but it’s going to be about offense. Davis Mills smashed the New England defense last week and now Dak Prescott will do the same. Dallas is a better team and it shows.
Will Brinson, CBS Sports: Patriots 24, Cowboys 21. “Did I mention that house dogs can be on this list? Dallas looks great. Dak Prescott is as relaxed as he is in his career. He appears to be in full command and on the same page as Kellen Moore. The Patriots aren’t all that hot, as they both managed to squeak for their second win of the year by the Texans against their rookie quarterback. But still, Bill Belichick and the Cowboys are getting to a point where they haven’t fully developed over the past few years. The gem of a game on CBS, without looking, Nantz and Romo. Dallas’ defense is in the top 10 even for the first five weeks of the season without DeMarcus Lawrence. Everything here screams Cowboy. It feels like the time Bill Belichick won. It’s a whole gut game.”
Michael Hurley, CBS Boston: Dallas (-3.5). “I think it’s technically difficult to understand the Patriots’ defense. Two weeks ago they did well to limit Tom Brady and then they let Davis Mills take a shot. beautiful 312 yards and three touchdowns. The Patriots’ passing defense was pretty good most of the time. But Dak Prescott is an entirely different challenge. It takes an air of combat at the border, as the cowboys’ pass defense is terrible. But Dallas is much better equipped to win a game like this. Still, it should be an easy day for the punters.”
Jimmy Kempski, Philly Sound: Cowboys (-3.5). “This streak feels weirdly low, as if it’s only 3.5 points because people still act like the Patri*s are a good football team. They’re not. The party is over and it’s worth noting that home dominance is gone. Gillette so far this season It will be 0-3 in , and it will be 0-4 soon.”
Winnie Iyer, sport News: Cowboys 27, Patriots 20. “The Cowboys’ offense looks unstoppable because it’s balanced, explosive, versatile and versatile, and can switch between pass-happy and run-heavy. They also have the added element of mobile quarterback Dak Prescott. Bill Belichick will plan to divert something from Prescott away from Amari Cooper or CeeDee Lamb, most likely a top buyer. This still leaves the other to hurt, and Prescott feels it kicking into their tight ends and backs too. There’s another injury in the Patriots’ running game and Mac Jones faces an aggressive defense with Trevon Diggs ready to attack any mistake. Dallas has the perfect plan to block New England on the way.”
Bill Bender sport News: Cowboys 23, Patriots 20. “The Cowboys are starting to get some hype around Dak Prescott with a balanced offense. Dallas has rushed more than 200 yards in the last two weeks. The Pats are fifth on the NFL defensive end and will try to slow that momentum, but New England will drop to 0-4 in home games this season.”
Mike Florio, Pro Football Speech: Cowboys 31, Patriots 23. “America’s Team 1.0 is doing better than America’s Team 2.0 and the Pats are down to an astonishing 0-4 on their court.”
Gregg RosenthalNFL.com: Cowboys 31, Patriots 24. “People Are Cowboys not a juggernaut. People also continue to look for reasons to believe that the Patriots are nothing more than a mediocre team with a defensive rank, mostly backed by a lack of quality opponents. I am not one of those people.”