Monday Night Preview: Can the Titans Snap a 3-Game Losing Streak Against the Cowboys?
This week's edition of Monday Night Football features the 3-4 Tennessee Titans traveling to take on the 3-4 Dallas Cowboys. Fresh off a bye, the Cowboys come into this match on a one-game losing streak, after falling 20-17 to the Washington Redskins. However, they will unveil their new-look offense after they added Amari Cooper at the trade deadline. The Titans also enter this contest off their bye. However, the Titans have dropped their last three, including a 20-19 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers prior to their week off.
With both teams looking to gain ground in their respective divisions, here is what to expect in tonight's matchup.
For the Cowboys, third-year pro Dak Prescott will start under center. Prescott has largely struggled this season, with 1,417 yards, 8 scores, and 4 interceptions. Through seven games, he has only eclipsed 200 yards on two occasions. Dak has also struggled according to our signature Net Expected Points (NEP) metric. Among 26 quarterbacks to drop back at least 200 times, Prescott's -0.02 Passing NEP per drop back ranks 23rd. However, the Cowboys will hope Amari Cooper can create a boost for their quarterback immediately this week.
On the other side, Marcus Mariota will start for the Titans after dealing with an elbow injury earlier this season. Through six games played, Mariota has accounted for 1,030 passing yards, 3 scores, and five interceptions. While Mariota has only dropped back 169 times this season, his -0.04 Passing NEP per drop back would rank 25th in the aforementioned group.
With both quarterbacks struggling mightily to start the season, the better performer could decide the outcome of this contest.
Running Back Breakdown
Playing running back for the Cowboys, Ezekiel Elliott ranks second in the NFL with 619 rushing yards. Elliott has performed well according to our NEP metric as well. Among 28 running backs with at least 80 carries, Elliott's 0.06 Rushing NEP per carry ranks is tied for 7th. Elliott has at least 17 touches in every game this season and should remain a focal point of the Cowboy's offense.
For the Titans, their backfield will remain a two-back committee consisting of Derrick Henry on early downs and Dion Lewis in the passing game. Henry has largely disappointed this season, plodding his way to 3.3 yards per carry on 84 attempts. His Rushing NEP per carry of -0.14 ranks 27th among 28 backs to rush at least 80 times. Lewis has not performed much better, notching 3.8 yards per carry of 73 attempts. His Rushing NEP per carry of -0.16 would rank just behind Henry if he had carried enough times to qualify for the above group.
To this point the Cowboys have played solid defense, ranking fourth per our schedule-adjusted metrics. On the other side, Tennessee has played up-and-down, ranking 20th.
To date, the Cowboys have been solid across the board, ranking second against the run and 13th against the pass. The Titans rank 20th against the run and 23rd against the pass. With both teams struggling on offense of late, this defensive matchup could ultimately decide the outcome of tonight's game.
To read all premium content, upgrade to a Premium account with numberFire
If you're not a Premium subscriber, it takes just a few seconds to sign up. You'll get access to all of our insider information, game projections, handicapping advice, DFS tools, advanced statistics, and more.