The 1-2 Dallas Cowboys will take on the 2-1 Cleveland Browns. At the start of the season, we would’ve thought that the records would be different. The Browns and Cowboys have plenty of talent on their rosters but can never seem to get in the win column.
Cleveland Browns vs. Dallas Cowboys
Sunday, October 4, 2020 – 1:00 pm EST – AT&T Stadium
The Cowboys are averaging 29.3 points per game this season after three games and yet they’re 1-2. That’s because the defense has allowed 32.3 points and 415 yards from the opposition per game. The Cowboys haven’t been terrible against the run, as they’ve allowed 127.7 yards per game on the ground, but knowing that the Browns want to come into this game pounding the ball down Dallas, it’ll be interesting how this team responds.
The Cowboys are 10th in the league in rushing yards allowed and have also allowed 3.8 yards per attempt. Allowing 3.8 yards per attempt really isn’t bad but there’s a reason why teams have attempted to run against the Cowboys all season. The Browns are coming into this game running for 170.3 yards per game this season. That’s one of the highest rates in football going into the fourth week. There’s no trust in Baker Mayfield, even with Odell Beckham, Jarvis Landry, and Kareem Hunt included in the offense.
The Browns are throwing for just 188 yards per game as Mayfield has five touchdowns and two interceptions on 564 yards passing in three games. On offense, the Cowboys lead in passing yards with 1150 on the season. The Browns secondary is still a bit injured with Greedy Williams listed as questionable. The Browns are allowing QB’s to have an average QB rating of 94.3, which is average. They’ve deflected 13 passes and have three interceptions but have allowed eight touchdowns, which is tied for second most.
Dak Prescott has thrown for plenty of yards but that doesn’t mean he’s getting plenty of touchdowns along with the yards. He’s just got five touchdowns and two interceptions even though he’s thrown for over 1000 yards in three games. If metrics mean anything, Prescott should turn those long yardage plays into touchdowns instead of letting Ezekiel Elliott steal them away at the goal line.
Anyway, we’ve got two defenses that have allowed 17 passing touchdowns combined. Prescott has 1188 yards and Mayfield has just 564 yards throwing. If the Cowboys can contain the run game just a little bit, the Cowboys should get ahead by a couple of touchdowns. If the Cowboys take a couple of possessions lead, the Browns will be forced to throw, Mayfield will make mistakes and the Cowboys will ultimately come away with this game. The Cowboys are allowing scoring drives on 45.9 percent of drives this season and just aren’t getting enough turnovers.
Mayfield makes many mistakes when you’d least expect it. But so do the Cowboys. They’ve turned the ball over plenty as well on offense and then have to claw themselves out of their mess and throw the ball. That’s why you can probably get a solid live line with the NFL odds during the game on the Cowboys or the over.
In the first half, both teams will likely look to run the ball and set a tone. If the Browns are successful, the Browns are a live underdog in this game. If the Cowboys are successful against a Browns defense that has allowed just 94 rushing yards per game, the Cowboys will be able to work the play action and find one of the many premium receivers the Cowboys have.
The Browns have eight sacks on the season and have gotten to the quarterback off of blitzing just one quarter of the game. The Cowboys have seen 42 blitzes on the season but have still given Prescott 2.5 seconds in the pocket. Meanwhile, Mayfield has had 2.7 seconds in the pocket this season and has only taken two hits while Prescott has taken 16 hits. We’ll see plenty of pressure from both sides but so far, the Browns have protected Mayfield a little bit longer.
However, you can make the case that by protecting Mayfield longer, it gives him the opportunity to give the ball away and make a mistake by holding onto the ball for too long. The Cowboys should pull away late in this game. The offense has really clicked more than the Browns. And while the defense of the Cowboys has been poor, there’s nothing great about the Browns defense either. For this NFL pick, there’s more confidence out of the Cowboys than out of the Browns.