The Dallas Cowboys’ “next man up” philosophy is being tested.
Injuries have created opportunities for others.
Even in that scenario, the bottom line is to win games.
At 5-5, the Cowboys are in playoff-chasing mode. Next up are the unpredictable Los Angeles Chargers, whose talent is better than their 4-5 record.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Star-Telegram
Here are five things to watch in the Thanksgiving matchup:
Dak bounces back
Dak Prescott had the worst game of his young career last Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles. He was intercepted a career-high three times and posted a career-low 30.4 passer rating.
But Prescott and the Cowboys aren’t fretting over one forgettable performance.
The Cowboys fully expect Prescott to respond, much like he has throughout his time with the Cowboys. But the Chargers secondary is riding high after coming down with five interceptions last week against the Bills. Wide receiver Brice Butler said, “I’m not worried about Dak.”
Full offensive line?
Left tackle Tyron Smith (groin) is showing signs of being available to play in this game after missing the previous two. The Cowboys could use the All-Pro as pass protection has been an issue in the past two games.
More importantly, Smith could help rejuvenate a running game that has struggled to establish itself early on since Ezekiel Elliott’s suspension. Smith’s value has been exemplified in his absence.
Dez Bryant isn’t having the type of season he or the team expected. Some have wondered whether Bryant will get back to an elite level.
But Bryant is still a threat in the red-zone and remains one touchdown away from becoming the Cowboys’ all-time leader in receiving touchdowns. He is one away from his 72nd, which would break a tie with Hall of Famer Bob Hayes.
Tight end Jason Witten can also set another record this week. Witten needs just 26 receiving yards to pass Herman Moore (834) for the most career receiving yards by a player on Thanksgiving. Witten already owns the holiday record for most catches (73).
Chargers running back Melvin Gordon is on pace for his first 1,000-yard season. The Cowboys gave up a season-high 215 rushing yards to the Philadelphia Eagles last week. The Cowboys know they must slow down Gordon if they’re going to get a win. That’s a tall order, particularly with Sean Lee missing another game with a hamstring injury.
Tony Romo had plenty of memorable Thanksgiving Day games on the field for the Cowboys. Now he’ll be in the broadcast booth for it.
Romo will be alongside CBS Sports play-by-play man Jim Nantz in what will be his second time calling his former team.
Romo has received praise throughout the season for his seamless transition to the broadcast booth, and he will have another chance to showcase his skills in front of a national audience.