In case you needed reminding, the Dallas Cowboys (8-3) have the best pass rush in the NFL. Leading the league with a 30.2% pressure rate and 45 sacks with still six games to go is a remarkable feat.
And what great timing? In come the Indianapolis Colts (4-7-1) fresh off a Monday Night loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Featuring an offensive line that has allowed the most sacks (43) and fielded the combined eight-lowest passer rating (84.3) on the season.
However, that’s also an area of their own, that can’t be slept on for the Colts. Their pass rush will likely be at full capacity Sunday night. With the return of edge rusher Kwity Paye (ankle) to a full participant at practice.
This is big for them as their full starting front four – Yannick Ngakoue, DeForest Buckner, Grover Stewart and Paye – will be good to go. Up against a Dallas Cowboys offensive line who has only given up 14 sacks (least in the league on the season), with 10-days’ rest.
With Ngakoue being all too familiar with the Cowboys offensive line, having played there last season as a member of the Las Vegas Raiders. A game in which he matched up against Tyron Smith.
Sunday night, it will be rookie Tyler Smith’s turn against the Colts top edge.
The Colts starting four has had a great season combined for 2022. 21 sacks, 26 tackles for loss, 60 QB pressures and 22 QB hurries. Not even counting the added contributions of players like Dayo Odeyingbo and Ifeadi Odenigbo have had on this defensive line.
Even with the betting odds saying Cowboys (-600)(-10.5), they have shown at times this season to be susceptible against defensive lines such as the Colts.
Indianapolis doesn’t even play with a heavy blitz. Only blitzing 16.4% of the time (fourth fewest) but still managing a 22.5% pressure rate (16th). Bringing only three or four rushers against the quarterback and opting to play heavy coverage. The same defensive scheme that gave Dallas fits around this same time last year until the end of the season.
Realistically, there is no reason the Dallas Cowboys shouldn’t win. But make no mistake about it. The Colts have the necessary pieces to win this game. The same pieces used to upset the Kansas City Chiefs and take both the Philadelphia Eagles and Washington Commanders down to the wire.
Sunday night will be a harder fought game than most realize.
Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports