Atlanta Falcons vs. Dallas Cowboys Matchup Preview (9/20/20): Betting Odds, Depth Charts, Live Stream (Watch Online)
The last time the Falcons played the Cowboys was in 2018 with Dallas earning a 22-19 victory in Atlanta. The two teams have made some significant personnel changes since then, and I would argue the Cowboys have gotten better while the Falcons have gotten worse. Neither team earned a win in Week 1 as the Falcons fell to the Seahawks and the Cowboys lost to the Rams on Sunday Night Football. With both teams now 0-1, they will be desperate to get in the 2020 win column here. Dallas finished last season 8-8 while Atlanta finished 7-9 – neither team made the playoffs a year ago.
The defense should have raised a ton of red flags in Week 1 for Falcons fans as their team allowed Russell Wilson to play arguably the best game of his career as he went 31-35 for 322 yards and 4 touchdowns to 0 interceptions. After somewhat of a disappointing opening week for Dak Prescott, he should be able to bounce back against Atlanta’s suspect secondary. The Falcons’ Matt Ryan had a monstrous 450 passing yards in Week 1 as he attempted to will his team back into the game. With a suspect defense and underwhelming ground game fueling positive game script, Matt Ryan is going to be among the leaders at the quarterback position on a weekly basis. This should be a high-scoring contest between two elite offenses and two defenses that underwhelmed in Week 1. For detailed historic statistics on this matchup, head over to the Dallas Cowboys @ Atlanta Falcons matchup page
Date: Sunday, September 20, 2020
Time: 1:00 PM EST
Location: AT&T Stadium, Arlington TX
Atlanta Falcons vs. Dallas Cowboys Live Stream
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Atlanta Falcons: DB Jaylinn Hawkins (out), DB Ricardo Allen (questionable), DB Jordan Miller (out – suspended), WR Russell Gage (probable), DB Darqueze Denard (probable)
Dallas Cowboys: TE Blake Jarwin (out), LB Leighton Vander-Esch (out), DE Randy Gregory (out), DL David Irving (out)
Atlanta Falcons Analysis
Last season, we saw the Falcons finish top-five in offensive yardage but just 13th in points per game as they struggled in the red zone. It was more of the same for them in Week 1, as they generated an astounding 506 yards of offense, the 2nd-most on the week, but just 25 points, a middle-of-the-pack number. The Falcons didn’t convert on any of their four 4th-down attempts, all of which were in Seattle territory, and their unwillingness to try field goals early in the game contributed to them falling behind on the scoreboard. Younghoe Koo went 2-2 on field goals with a long of 49 yards, so their lack of trust in him is an interesting point in Week 1.
Matt Ryan’s outstanding 450-yard passing game resulted in Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley, and Russell Gage all finishing with 9 catches and over 100 yards receiving. Todd Gurley had an outstanding first half of the game with 10 rushes for 51 yards and a touchdown, but he only had 4 carries for 4 yards in the second half. As Atlanta failed on two fourth-down conversions in the third quarter, Seattle pulled ahead by as many as 16 points on the back of two Russell Wilson touchdown passes. From that point on, the Falcons had seemingly no choice but to abandon the run, a problem they faced far too often last season.
The Falcons’ defense will be laughed off after they allowed Russell Wilson to dominate last week, but there were some positive takeaways including holding the two Seahawks’ running backs, Chris Carson and Carlos Hyde, to 3.5 and 3.2 yards per carry, respectively. Tyeler Davidson and Grady Jarrett are stout interior defenders, but the team’s glaring lack of secondary depth is going to hold them back all year. The cornerback trio of Darqueze Denard, Isaiah Oliver, and rookie A.J. Terrell were constantly overwhelmed last week and have another tough matchup against a talented Dallas wideout room in Week 2.
Atlanta Falcons Depth Chart
Dallas Cowboys Analysis
The first thing that needs to happen here is an absolute outpouring of sadness for my man Blake Jarwin. The Blake-out was coming and I am fully confident he would have been a stud fantasy option this season, but as is life in the NFL, Jarwin was dealt brutal luck with an ACL injury that requires season-ending surgery. The Cowboys will be hoping he has a speedy recovery as the man they will use to replace him, Dalton Schultz, couldn’t catch a cold against the Rams let alone a Dak Prescott pass. With Jarwin out of the lineup, backup running back Tony Pollard could see more playing time on heavy sets.
Of course, the strength of the Dallas passing offense was never the tight end spot. It’s Dak Prescott, a top-ten quarterback, throwing to three lights-out receivers in Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, and rookie CeeDee Lamb. The Dallas passing game should light up a Falcons’ defense that looked absolutely helpless against Russell Wilson and the Seahawks. While the Falcons’ defense did hold the Seahawks to a surprisingly low rushing total (Wilson led the team with 29 yards on the ground), that felt like more of a deliberate plan by the Seahawks and Ezekiel Elliott should be just fine in this matchup. Zeke will be looking to add to his 96 yards and a touchdown on the ground from Week 1. The Cowboys’ offense as a whole will need to improve its efficiency as the team’s red-zone performance was suspect and they went 3-12 on 3rd down and 1-3 on 4th down against the Rams
Defensively, the Cowboys played a bend-don’t-break style in Week 1 that saw them surrender 422 total yards of offense but only 20 points. Aldon Smith was the key player for the Cowboys as he finished with 11 tackles (1 for a loss) and 1 sack. DeMarcus Lawrence and Everson Griffen were largely held in check, surprisingly so given how the Rams’ offensive line projects, but the Rams had a clear game plan to get the ball out of Jared Goff’s hands as soon as possible. Against a suspect Falcons’ offensive line, Dallas should have more of an opportunity to make a defensive impact, especially since I don’t trust Dirk Koetter (Atlanta OC) nearly as much as Sean McVay (LA HC).
Dallas Cowboys Depth Chart
Spread: Cowboys -4.5, Falcons +4.5
Moneyline: Cowboys -225, Falcons +185
This game opened up with an over/under total of 50 points and has already cruised up to 52.5. I would cash in on that number now before it continues to move as I expect this to be one of the highest-scoring games of the week. The Falcons’ offense was lethal in Week 1 and should have plenty more production in Week 2. The Cowboys’ defense was mediocre in Week 1 as their 422 yards allowed suggest they should have allowed much more than 20 points. With the Falcons able to throw the ball all over the field, the Dallas defense will be in trouble. Luckily, this game is a perfect bounce-back opportunity for a Cowboys offense that flashed elite play but was surprisingly inefficient. Dak Prescott is surrounded by elite talent in Ezekiel Elliott, Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, and CeeDee Lamb and the Cowboys’ offense is going to explode in Week 2. Neither of these defenses stand much of a chance against the opposing offense, and with the Cowboys’ overall talent advantage and ability to control time of possession with the run game, I expect Dallas to win this game by a decent margin.
My prediction: Cowboys win 34-27, Cowboys cover the spread, over 52.5 points scored
Daily Fantasy Picks
RB Ezekiel Elliott (Dallas Cowboys)
The Cowboys’ running back is one of the most expensive DFS players this week ($8,200 on DraftKings), and for good reason. He’s one of the few every-week, every-down backs who catches the ball and dominates goalline work. Neither Seahawks’ running back ran the ball well in Week 1 against the Falcons (Chris Carson was a monster through the air), but neither Seahawks’ running back has nearly the talent of Zeke nor the same opportunity. Elliott should be locked and loaded every week and in a plus matchup, I’m going to build a couple of lineups around him this week.
WR Calvin Ridley (Atlanta Falcons)
Ridley dominated in Week 1 with 9 catches for 130 yards and 2 touchdowns as he finished as the #2 wide receiver on the week. He soaked up 12 targets in the game and made a few incredible highlight-reel catches. After the departures of Mohamed Sanu and Austin Hooper, there were always going to be targets to pick up in this offense, and the Falcons are right back to leading the NFL in passing attempts after they did so last season. Ridley is a mega talent with an amazing opportunity in his offense and benefits from Julio Jones drawing the defense’s primary attention. He should be considered for DFS lineups every week.
WR Michael Gallup (Dallas Cowboys)
Michael Gallup finished with just 3 catches for 50 yards in Week 1 on fewer targets (5) than Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb. However, his 16.7 yards per catch was an impressive metric and with Blake Jarwin gone from the offense, there will be a bit more targets to go around. Gallup could lead the offense in receptions in any given week and against an overmatched Falcons’ defense, he has a great opportunity to produce. I wouldn’t mind playing Amari Cooper at $6,300 on DraftKings, but Gallup presents the better value at $5,600 and has, in my mind, a relatively equal chance of leading the team in receiving.
WR Russell Gage (Atlanta Falcons)
I’m firing up just about everyone in this matchup for DFS this week, but I wanted to spotlight Russell Gage as a cheap option to look out for. Gage had 9 catches on 12 targets in Week 1 and could produce weekly value if Matt Ryan is going to lead the league in pass attempts per game again. Hayden Hurst was a disappointment in his first game with the Falcons, and while I still expect him to get better as the year goes on, it’s clear that Ryan trusts Gage as his third read more than Hurst. Gage is just $4,800 on DraftKings and is exactly the type of cheaper option I love to find so I can pay up for a few studs.