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New England Patriots vs. Dallas Cowboys X-Factors

Which player on the Patriots offense and defense stands to have the largest impact on the game?

Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

The Patriots will travel to Dallas to play the Cowboys in Jerry World on Sunday. The Cowboys are a wounded team with injuries striking them pretty much everywhere, but the Patriots still have to go play them. It should be interesting if the Patriots fans become a factor in this game since a lot of road fans love to travel to Jerry World to root for their team. With the Cowboys hoping to tread water right now in a weak division, the Patriots have the opportunity to deliver a statement win to the AFC.

Offense: WR Danny Amendola
The Patriots should be able to spread out the Dallas defense in large part due to the injuries on the Dallas defense and the good health on the New England offense. Amendola will be operating primarily out of the slot and will likely draw Tyler Patmon in coverage. With Dallas likely unable to man up against the Patriots receivers, backs, and tight ends, the Cowboys will mix in a lot of zone as a change-up. That's where Amendola can do his damage in case Dallas overcommits to the Rob Gronkowski seam routes. If Dallas plays Tampa 2 with the middle linebacker dropping to close the seam, that space can be immediately filled with Amendola in order to move the chains. I predict he'll catch 6 passes, with all 6 of them moving the chains.

Defense: S Patrick Chung
I have to imagine the Cowboys will try to use personnel to create space in the running game. With the health of the Dallas receiving corps, we may see a lot of 2 TE sets in 3 WR formations. To counter that, the Patriots could go for a Big Nickel package instead of matching up with base personnel. That's where Chung plays a critical role. His ability to play as a safety and come down into the box as an extra linebacker against the run is going to be critical to slowing down the Dallas rushing attack. He may have issues covering Witten primarily due to the size mismatch between the two, but if Chung is in the area code, he should be able to make a few plays on some errant Weeden passes.