Dalton in charge for Saints; Pollard workhorse for Cowboys?

By ROY LANG III, Journal Sports

The New Orleans Saints are 2-5; the Dallas Cowboys are 5-2. One team could own a share of its division lead Sunday; the other is stuck in third place, two games back in the loss column.

It’s probably not what you think.

The Saints have lost five of their past six games, but have an opportunity to stay in touch with the mess dubbed the NFC South when they host the Las Vegas Raiders on Sunday (noon, CBS).

Tampa Bay fell to 3-5 with a loss to Baltimore on Thursday. The winner of Sunday’s Atlanta (3-4)-Carolina (2-5) matchup will be the division leader. If New Orleans and Carolina win Sunday, all four NFC South teams will be tied at 3-5.

Quarterback Jameis Winston is healthy enough to return to action for the Saints, but head coach Dennis Allen has chosen to stick with Andy Dalton, who has completed 83 of 131 passes this season for 946 yards and seven touchdowns. He’s thrown four interceptions. The Saints rank third in total offense in the NFL (398 yards per game).

“When you’re in this position, the biggest thing you can ask for is an opportunity,” Dalton said in preparation for the 2-4 Raiders. “Fortunately, I have one here. I’m not focused on what this could mean and what could go on, that’s all going to take care of itself whenever that time comes.”

Meanwhile, the Cowboys are still looking for their way offensively as the Chicago Bears (3-4) visit AT&T Stadium on Sunday. One week after the “Dak is back” headlines dominated due to the return of former Haughton star Dak Prescott, Dallas has another pressing issue.

One of the Cowboys’ formidable backfield duo, Ezekiel Elliott (knee), was listed as doubtful on the final injury report and is expected to miss the noon kickoff (Fox) with Chicago. Tony Pollard, normally the change-of-pace complement to Elliott, is expected to be in a featured role.

The Cowboys’ defense has carried the team to its impressive start. Dallas ranks 29th in the league in total offense (305 yards per game) and 22nd in scoring offense (19.1 points per game), but hopes to find its footing under Prescott.

“The passing game will get there,” Prescott said.

Raiders at Saints

Noon (CBS), Caesar’s Superdome 

Bears at Cowboys

Noon (Fox), AT&T Stadium

Contact Roy at roylangiii@yahoo.com