Dallas, TX (CBS DFW)- The first five games of the Cowboys season could be best described as having a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde nature.
In Weeks 1-3, the 'Boys looked like world beaters, averaging over 32 points per game, as they racked up wins against the Giants, Redskins and Dolphins. In the two weeks since, things haven't gone quite as smoothly. The offense has sputtered to put up just 10 and 24 points against the Saints and Packers respectively. And quarterback Dak Prescott has thrown four interceptions in those two games.
Now, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that the team's play has fluctuated depending on the strength of their opponents. The Giants, Redskins and Dolphins have a combined 2-12 record so far this season, while the Packers and Saints are a combined 8-2. Furthermore, the Cowboys played the Giants when Eli Manning was still the starter, and New York's offense has looked better since inserting rookie Daniel Jones in his place.
So, what's the biggest difference in the Cowboys performance so far? Is it simply the fact that they are playing better teams now and they need to adjust accordingly? Inside The NFL analyst Steve Smith Sr. thinks so.
"The Cowboys need to step up," said Smith Sr. "They had an easier schedule in the beginning, and now they're playing tougher opponents. And they're going to have to play better, or they are going to continuously have some of the troubles that we saw this past weekend."
This upcoming week, the team has another opportunity to seemingly unlock their inner Mr. Hyde, when they face the win-less New York Jets at Metlife Stadium. While the Jets will have starting quarterback Sam Darnold back in the lineup, overall Adam Gase's team has not shown much fight this season. But, that doesn't necessarily mean the Cowboys can expect a walk-over win, as the Jets rank 12th in defensive DVOA, according to Football Outsiders. They have been strong against the run, allowing opponents just 3.4 yards per carry and just 87.5 yards per game on the ground.
The Jets have had problems stopping teams once they get into the red zone, however, as opponents have scored on seven of 10 possessions inside that area this season. After a week in which the Cowboys converted just one of their three red zone trips against the Packers into touchdowns, that is welcome news.
After New York, however, things get tough once more, with the division rival Eagles coming to town and games against the Vikings, Lions, Patriots, Bills, Bears and Rams all awaiting in the second half of the season. As Smith Sr. said, that stretch is the time for the team to "step up."
The Cowboys meet the Jets at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ on Sunday, October 13th, with kickoff slated for 3:25 p.m. Central Time on CBS.
You can catch Steve Smith Sr. along with Ray Lewis, Phil Simms and host James Brown when Inside The NFL airs tonight at 9 p.m. Central Time on Showtime.
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