The first eight weeks of the season made sure of one thing: the Dallas Cowboys were on fire. The Cowboys were playing true Super Bowl contenders and the Raiders were clawing tooth and nail for a playoff spot. The latter is still true heading into Week 12, while the former is now being heavily questioned.
The Cowboys started off the season with a loss to the defending Super Bowl champions, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. After that they went on a six-game win streak before being taken down by an AFC West rival of the Raiders, the Denver Broncos. Since then, they have gone 1-1 losing to another AFC West rival, the Kansas City Chiefs. This week, the Raiders will look to snap a three-game losing streak and hand Dallas their third AFC West loss of the season.
As the Raiders prepare for Week 12, let’s look at a few things that may impact Thursday’s game.
A Short Week
The Raiders are coming off a brutal loss against the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 11. The Cowboys are also coming off a loss to the Chiefs. Both teams are looking to break their losing streak on Thursday but may be challenged by the short week they have to prepare.
After Sunday’s loss to the Bengals, head coach Rich Bisaccia spoke to the media. “We’ve worked Friday’s and nights to get ahead… we’ll start early,” he said referring to the short week.
The Raiders’ final injury Wednesday ruled out CB Keisean Nixon and LB Nick Kwiatkoski, who both missed last Sunday’s game due to their injuries. LG John Simpson is listed as questionable after being listed as a limited participant on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Dallas’ injury report looked slightly grimmer as they are currently without both of their top wide receivers. Former Raider Amari Cooper will not play against his former team on Thursday as he remains in COVID-19 protocol. CeeDee Lamb is currently questionable for Sunday with a concussion suffered in Week 11.
The short week is always hard. There’s less practice, less mental preparation time, and now a holiday on top of it. The team that wins on Thursday will be the team that is the most focused, well-prepared, and most capable of blocking out distractions.
The Dallas Defense
The Cowboys defense has been monstrous this season. CB Trayvon Diggs leads the league in interceptions with 8 and LB Micah Parsons leads the Defensive Rookie of the Year conversation.
Over the last three games, QB Derek Carr has turned the ball over six times. With players as explosive as Parsons and Diggs, it is crucial that the Raiders focus on protecting the football.
The Cowboys defense currently sits at fifth in the NFL according to PFF. The Raiders offense sits at 17. That is a tough matchup by any means, but on a short week after losing three in a row, it’s time for the Raiders offense to take down a high-powered defense.
Despite all their trials and tribulations, the Raiders still have a chance to make the playoffs. A win this week combined with a Chargers loss can put the Raiders back in second place in the AFC West.
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