Dallas, Texas – Two teams with the highest momentums heading into week 15 will collide in Indianapolis Sunday when the 7-6 Colts host the 8-5 Cowboys at Lucas Oil Stadium.
This is a game will major NFL playoff picture implications as the Indianapolis has won six of their last seven and is surging for an AFC wild-card spot. Their last victory came this past Sunday when they put an end to the Houston Texans joy ride of a nine-game winning streak, by the score of 24-21. As for the Cowboys, they’re riding hot on a five-game winning streak with their latest home victory over the Eagles 29-23, putting them firmly in the driver’s seat for the NFC East title.
Sportsbooks list Indianapolis as a three-point favorite. The Over-Under, or total number of points Vegas thinks will be scored, is 47.5 in the latest Cowboys vs. Colts odds.
Colts Keys To Victory
Indianapolis has won four straight at home, with quarterback Andrew Luck throwing 13 touchdowns and only three interceptions. For the season, Luck has been sacked just 16 times, which is the second-fewest in the NFL. He’s completed 68 percent of his throws for 3,759 yards and 34 touchdowns. Despite their 1-5 start to the season, the Colts seemed to have figured things out offensively and if the O-line can protect Luck as well as they’ve done all season, his comfortability and confidence in the pocket will continue to increase and could ‘will’ them to a victory.
The overriding question heading into the latest win-or-else game for the Colts revolves around the availability of T.Y. Hilton. Hilton, who was the league’s 2016 leading receiver did not practice all week to undergo treatment for an ankle injury. Over their last five-game stretch, Hilton was the main offensive stimulus package with 36 receptions for 633 yards and two touchdowns. His latest performance came in their much-needed victory against the Texans last week, catching nine passes for 199 yards with an average of 22.1 yards per catch. Surely if he’s out they’ll have to rely on Eric Ebron, who’s tied for the league lead with 12 touchdown catches. But one person will not be enough to fill the shoes of Hilton’s absence.
Cowboys Keys to Victory
Similar to the game plan that rewarded the Cowboys a victory over the Saints, they have to be clock managers and keep Andrew Luck off the field. For those of you that don’t feel as threaten by Luck’s arm as you would Brees’ arm, here’s some numbers that you should pay attention to. Over the past six games, Luck has thrown for an average of 302 yards per game. All of the questions we’ve had as it pertains to his shoulder has clearly been answered by now. Luck has the hot hand right now and this is not a guy that Dallas wants to see more often than usual on the field.
The ‘Coop’ Effect: The Cowboys’ offense has been in a different gear since the Oct. 22 trade with Oakland delivered Amari Cooper to the huddle. In his six games, the fourth overall pick in the 2015 draft has been the NFL’s most prolific receiver: 40 catches, 642 yards, 6 TDs. He’s also accounted for 32 first downs, which has greatly boosted Dallas’ third-down efficiency. It was 31.9 percent without Cooper, 49.4 with him.
The ‘Zeke’ Effect: Ezekiel Elliott now lead the NFL in rushing with 1,262 yards, (7) 100-yards games and a total of 1,764 scrimmage yards. The fact that the Colts will have to focus a great deal of their attention on Amari Cooper will create more opportunities for Zeke. We understand how important Elliott is to this offense and Sunday shouldn’t be any different. Elliott should have 25 to 30 touches Sunday, both on the ground and through the air.
This game means more to Indianapolis than it does Dallas. Colts are still fighting for a wild-card spot while the Cowboys are seemingly controlling their own destiny. Even if the Cowboys lay an egg this Sunday, they have to come home to face Tampa Bay and go on the road to face the Giants to finish out the season, which are clearly two easily winnable games. Of course, wining out these last three are ideal for Dallas but Indianapolis clearly has more to lose in this game. To stay up to date on all things Cowboys and more, be sure to subscribe to You Can Argue That Sports and receive notifications of new posts and podcasts by email.