After a huge win over the Redskins on Thanksgiving, the Cowboys are at home this Thursday night to take on the 10-1 Saints. Dallas is playing their best football of the season, but Drew Brees and company are absolutely on fire and are heavy favorites over America’s team.
These two teams are not short on star power but one key matchup has two of the best young players in the game going head to head. The saints have human joystick Alvin Kamara and the Cowboys have a tackling machine in Leighton Vander Esch.
Alvin Kamara can beat in you in so many ways. Yes, he can get it done between the tackles but he kills you on the perimeter and out in space. He runs routes like a receiver. Kamara boasts a solid total of 706 rushing yards on the season averaging a healthy 4.7 yards-per-carry.
It’s in the receiving game where he sets himself apart from other backs. Kamara has 519 receiving yards and 4 TD’s on the season. He is a matchup nightmare for any linebacker much less a rookie who is still “figuring it out”.
The Saints do use Mark Ingram but he is more of an old-school bruiser. Kamara is the spark plug for this Saints offense. If the Cowboys have any shot at winning this game, they need to key in on the dual-threat running back.
Leighton Vander Esch is a playmaker at linebacker for the Cowboys. This kid is killing it in his rookie year. He’s already got 93 tackles on the season and that’s after seeing limited snaps at the beginning of the year.
Vander Esch has shown well in both the running and passing game. He picked off Carson Wentz in week 10 and picked off Matt Ryan the following week. He looks just as comfortable dropping back into coverage versus the pass as he does fighting through the big bodies on the offensive line against the run.
LVE is currently sitting at number 6 in Profootballfocus’ linebacker rankings with a grade of 84.8. That’s not for just rookies, that’s every linebacker in the NFL. If the Boys are going to stay in this game, Vander Esch will have to make plays to stop the high octane Saints offense.
The Cowboys need a win and the Saints just might be the hottest team in the league right now. Dallas won’t be able to win a shootout versus New Orleans so the defense is going to have to be the difference in the game.
Kamara was last years offensive rookie of the year and Vander Esch is making a strong case for defensive rookie of the year this season. Kamara is going to get his touches, Vander Esch will be right there. The winner of this matchup might be the difference in the game.
Now you know Broe @broeham