A Glimpse of Things to Come: Dallas Cowboys vs Oakland Raiders Preseason Match-Up
The Oakland Raiders play their third preseason game today Saturday, August 26, against the Dallas Cowboys. The two teams will meet again on the Raiders’ turf in week 14 this season, so this is hopefully a preview of what we will see towards the end of the season during a real-life clash of the titans. While the game will undoubtedly be exciting, there will be a few key areas that everyone will be looking at closely.
What’s going on with Zeke?
Probably the second-most polarizing NFL offseason topic this year was Ezekiel Elliot’s suspension for off-field behavior. He will be forced to sit out the first six games of the season, pending an appeal, but he can still play in preseason games, but will he? All signs point to yes. Being uncertain of the amount of field time he will get will likely light a fire under Elliot, and he will give everyone a great show.
One of the most remarkable things that you will see this season will start in this field and finish up in the Black Hole. Today’s matchup between one of the best running backs in 2016 and the defensive player of the year all but guarantees one thing: collision. Elliott cuts through defensive lines like a hot knife through butter, and Khalil Mack runs through things if he cannot get around them just like a Mack truck. These two may not give us the full program in the preseason, but the preview is going to be amazing.
He who has the most toys wins
Two young quarterbacks with a few significant commonalities, Dak Prescott and Derek Carr very rarely, if ever, disappoint. They each have a pair of receivers that can carry them downfield, and a backfield that rivals almost anyone. The Cowboys have Elliot. The Raiders have Marshawn Lynch. The young buck versus the old bull; this is what the game is all about. We are not likely to see much of Beast Mode, but Zeke is not going to sit out; after all, this will be the most playtime he will see for a month and a half, as it stands.
While the Cowboys have a strong veteran receiver in Dez Bryant, they also rely heavily on their tight end game, dumping several passes off to pro-bowl TE Jason Witten. Witten is the quintessential modern-day NFL tight end. He blocks, he catches, and he throws his body on the offensive line wherever he is needed.
That is the place that the Raiders have lacked most on offense. However, this year is already proving to be different. They have picked up a new tight end this year, whom most of you will remember for the ballerina-style catch that he made in the Packers’ playoff game last year versus, you guessed it: the Cowboys. “Dem Boys” are not likely to have forgotten the man who helped knock them out of the playoffs last year, so the smell of a grudge is in the air.
Watch Raiders’ tight end Cook catch an impossible pass from Rodgers right here.
They both have defensive messes
The Cowboys and the Raiders have more than a few things in common, not the least of which is their defensive struggle. It is real. It is no secret that the Raiders have had their challenges, but Dallas is in a similar boat. While they have one spectacular linebacker in Sean Lee, their line and secondary leave much to be desired. The Raiders have banked on vet cornerback Sean Smith and lost, and the Cowboys lost their veteran, safety Barry Church, to free agency, as well as CB Morris Claiborne. Plus, the Cowboys are moving third-string free safety Jeff Heath to their starting strong safety role, and newcomer Nolan Carroll has to find his home at left corner.
So who takes the preseason?
The answer is that it does not matter. Given the general comparisons, these two teams may feel like they are looking into a mirror. Perhaps they can see what they are doing wrong and adjust accordingly. Whichever team does that better and can follow through with those adjustments may not be the winner this week, but will have the upper hand in December when they meet for all the marbles.