Dallas Cowboys vs Buffalo Bills
Last week the Dallas Cowboys and Buffalo Bills teamed up to take down both members of Super Bowl LVII. The Bills struck out in front of their AFC foe early and coasted clumsily (and semi-controversially) to a 20-17 victory in Arrowhead. The Cowboys grounded the division-rival Eagles early and never needed to look back. Mike McCarthy and company had turned on kicker cruise control by the halftime whistle, rolling to a comfortable 33-13 win. This week they face off in Orchard Park, where only one will walk away with their hard-earned playoff momentum intact.
Josh Allen and the Bills stepped confidently into the AFC spotlight in 2019 and haven’t missed the playoffs since. In 2023, however, they appear to be unsuccessfully feeling their way through the dark in a crowded AFC playoff race. Before their trip to Kansas City last week, they had lost four of six, including a loss to the hapless New England Patriots. After taking down Mahomes and the Chiefs, the Bill’s playoff dreams stay alive as they stare down Dallas.
The Dallas Cowboys are on pace to finish their third straight season with at least twelve wins, but their accompanying playoff trips have suffered a fate similar to that of their Sunday adversaries. On two consecutive playoff trips, the Cowboys boast only one win over the 8-9 Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The greatest embarrassment of the 2023 regular season came in week five against the same team that has knocked them out of the playoffs in consecutive seasons in San Fransisco. Since their record dropped to 3-2, they’ve only lost one game in a tightly contested matchup with the Eagles in week nine.
What favors who?
If anything favors the Bills in this matchup, it’s that the Cowboys don’t look nearly as impenetrable on the road this season, sitting at 3-3 on the year. Since the 2021 season, the Cowboys hold a 20-4 home record against a 14-9 record on the road. Dallas has yet to play a game with weather colder than 55 degrees while the Bills practice in cold temps every day.
Despite Dallas’ league-leading five-game winning streak, Vegas has made the Cowboys two-point underdogs this Sunday. It’s tough to determine where Vegas thinks Buffalo holds an edge over Dallas.
At quarterback, Prescott is substantially ahead of Allen in every quarterback measurable and has thrown less than half the interceptions. Regarding offensive line play, Dak has put up those numbers while absorbing eleven more sacks than his counterpart.
At receiver, Lamb has a near 300-yard edge on Diggs, leading him in every category aside from a tie in receiving touchdowns at eight.
At running back, Tony Pollard edges out James Cook in every rushing stat aside from yards per attempt. As a receiving back, Cook has a hundred-yard, three-touchdown lead on Pollard.
At tight end, Jake Ferguson beats Bills starter Dawson Knox in every stat except receptions and has more touchdowns than Buffalo’s top two tight ends combined.
The numbers are a bit more competitive on the other side of the ball.
At forty-two, the Bills hold a three-sack lead on Dallas. However, Dallas has forced more fumbles, picked off more balls, and scored five more touchdowns.
Why is this game important?
With the Dolphin’s improbable Monday night meltdown against the Titans, Buffalo sits only a game and a half outside of first place in the division with a week 18 head-to-head looming in Miami. Before that matchup (which will likely be flexed into primetime), Buffalo takes on the Cowboys, Chargers, and Bills. In that same time, Miami will face the Jets, Cowboys, and Ravens. If Buffalo does manage to sneak past Dallas, they can appoint themselves as slight AFC East favorites.
While Buffalo fights for a playoff spot, Dallas has their eyes set on the first seed in the NFC. Despite currently sitting atop the NFC East, Dallas will slip into second if they and the Eagles both win out due to conference record. With a loss to the San Fransisco 49ers already on the schedule, Dallas would need both San Fransisco and Philadelphia to take a loss in the season’s final quarter to earn the luxury of a first-round bye. For Philly, the toughest remaining opponent is the Seattle Seahawks this Monday night, who gave Dallas a shootout at AT&T stadium just two weeks ago.
While it is hard to believe, the Eagles have not beaten the Seahawks since 2008, before now thirteen-year-tenured Pete Carroll became head coach. As for their other roadblock, the Cowboys are left to hope the #1 seed Baltimore Ravens can topple the 49ers in a week 16 rematch of Super Bowl XLVII.
Two Similar Stories Clash: Cowboys vs Bills
The last four seasons have seen the Cowboys and Bills playing their best football since they faced off in Super Bowl XXX. Since 2021, they have nearly identical records, both in the regular and postseason, with Dallas 33-13 (1-2 playoffs) and Buffalo 31-15 (2-2 playoffs). The Cowboys are playing better football on both sides of the ball and are at the height of the Mike McCarthy era. The Bills have spent the better part of the season within a game of .500, and find themselves with entering week fifteen with less than eight wins for the first time since 2018.
This game will serve as a pressure cooker for the Bills. Depending on how they handle that pressure, they will emerge Monday as either one of the AFC’s hottest teams on a heater through Kansas City and Dallas, or a middling team with hopes of a wildcard slot.
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