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3 key matchups to follow for Bills at Cowboys | Scouting Report

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3 KEY MATCHUPS

1. WR John Brown vs. CB Chidobe Awuzie

This is an underrated matchup. Brown is the AFC leader in receiving yards and Awuzie has quietly put together a solid season. He's third on the Cowboys in tackles and leads the team in pass breakups with 10.

2. T Cody Ford vs. DE DeMarcus Lawrence

The rookie right tackle performed well against Von Miller last week, but Lawrence is a better all-around player than the Denver pass rusher and will require supreme effort on every play from Ford.

3. Bills run defense vs. Ezekiel Elliott

Dallas will likely focus on using their eighth-ranked run game to soften up Buffalo's defense before taking their shots off play action. Elliott is third in the NFC in rushing yards.

2 THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT THE OPPONENT

Offense is stout

Though the Patriots made the Dallas offense look rather 'pop gun' last Sunday, the Cowboys still bring the top-ranked offense into Thursday's game. Ranked first in passing yards, Dallas has the talent to strike from anywhere on the field.

Cowboys are elite on third down

When it comes to the money down in football, Dallas is at the top of the league whether on offense or defense. The Cowboys rank second in the league in third down conversion rate at a gaudy 48.5 percent. Conversely, on defense they're just as good holding opponent to a success rate of just 31.4 percent, good for third-best in the NFL.

When the Bills play against the Cowboys in Dallas on Thanksgiving, a few players on the roster will be returning to their home state. Scroll through to view photos of the players and their families, and their history in Texas.

1 THING THAT COULD DECIDE THE GAME

Minimizing big plays

The Cowboys have completed 49 pass plays of 20 yards or more this season, good for second in the league. Buffalo's pass defense has only given up 22 such completions all season, which ranks third, and none of them have gone for touchdowns. If the Bills can keep Dallas' big plays to a minimum, Buffalo could pull off an upset.

UNDERCURRENTS

--Dallas could be without LB Leighton Vander Esch, who is dealing with a neck injury. The prevailing report was if Vander Esch missed last Sunday's game against New England, that he would also miss Thursday's game against Buffalo. Sean Lee replaced him in subpackages, with Joe Thomas coming on in base personnel.

--The Cowboys have yet to post a victory over a team with a winning record this season. The Bills however, are in the same boat as none of their eight victories have come against a team with a record above .500 either.

--As effective as Lawrence is as a pass rusher, the more productive edge defender against the pass has been veteran Robert Quinn. He has 9.5 sacks to lead the Dallas defense and also has the most quarterback hits with 18.

--Dallas special teams had a muffed kick return, suffered a blocked punt that led to New England's only TD, and had a missed field goal in a four-point loss to the Patriots last week. The Cowboys rank 27th in punt return average, last in kick return average, 29th in punt coverage and 24th in kick coverage.

--Amari Cooper had been playing through a knee injury of late and in Week 11 played in just 55 percent of the offensive snaps. Though he was effectively shut out by Stephon Gilmore in last Sunday's game he played 81 percent of the snaps, which could be a sign that his knee has improved. He did not appear on the team's injury report last week.

--Starting offensive linemen La'el Collins, Zack Martin and Connor Williams were all listed as limited on Tuesday with a host of injuries.

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