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Patriots vs Cowboys: Three keys to the game

Related: Four matchups that could decide the Patriots’ game against the Cowboys

New England Patriots v Philadelphia Eagles Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

In a battle between two fan bases that argue for “America’s Team” bragging rights, the New England Patriots will look to continue their current 20-game home win streak and 4-0 versus the NFC this season as they host the Dallas Cowboys in the team’s first home game in just under a month. Dallas comes into the game off a 35-27 win over the Detroit Lions and has been struggling all year stringing wins together as they are now 6-4 after starting the year at 3-0.

Some would argue that Dak Prescott is playing at an MVP level and any time you have to face Ezekiel Elliot, it serves as a challenge for opposing defenses — so let’s find out what the Patriots need to do to beat the Cowboys today.

Win against Dallas’ wide receivers

The Patriots’ loaded secondary faces one of their toughest tests of the season as Stephon Gilmore likely will line up across Amari Cooper, Jonathan Jones go against Randall Cobb and J.C. Jackson versus Michael Gallup. Although the weather may slow him down through the air, Prescott currently leads the league in passing yards and his 21 touchdowns this season are second best behind only the Seattle SeahawksRussell Wilson.

Eliminating the boundary threats Cooper and Gallup is imperative to the Patriots’ success today as Prescott has been one of the best in the entire league throwing outside the numbers. The Patriots defense still hasn’t proved to everyone that it is indeed, for real but today’s test is another chance to show just how good they really are.

Get James White going in the screen game

We haven’t seen the Patriots’ screen game work effectively in quite some time but with Mohamed Sanu and Phillip Dorsett both likely missing the game, putting the ball in James White’s hands in space can serve as a weapon for the Patriots. With starting left tackle Isaiah Wynn back in the lineup and Dallas without one of their faster, more athletic linebackers in Leighton Vander Esch, it could be a game for New England’s receiving backs like James White and Rex Burkhead to get going on the outside.

Limit Ezekiel Elliott

Everybody knows Ezekiel Elliott is one of the premier running backs in the game today: he runs hard, downhill, and can beat you in several ways. With the rain seeming to be an issue today, Dallas could shift their game plan to ‘Let Zeke Eat’ and get him 28-35 touches.

New England’s defensive front headed by Lawrence Guy, Danny Shelton and Adam Butler has been strong versus the run this year and really improved against the RPO-type plays last week against the Philadelphia Eagles. With Dallas having more of a “basic” rushing attack, it shouldn’t be too much of an issue for the Patriots — unlike what the Baltimore Ravens did to them a few weeks back.