Clash of winning streaks tonight

The Associated Press
Schuyler Dixon

ARLINGTON, Tex.–Drew Brees and the Saints have a chance to do something that should seem familiar to Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys.
If it happens, New Orleans even might have the NFC South title already in hand by the end of the week.
The record-setting quarterback will go for an 11th-straight win after a season-opening loss in a visit to the Cowboys tonight.
That’s exactly what Dallas did when Prescott and running back Ezekiel Elliott were rookie sensations in 2016.
It won’t be a franchise record the way it was for Dallas.
The Cowboys might remember when New Orleans started 13-0 on the way to a Super Bowl title nine years ago because they won on the road to start the Saints’ season-ending three-game skid.
The Saints can’t afford a similar slump if they want the NFC’s top seed, which Dallas had with 13 wins two years ago.
The L.A. Rams enter the week with the same 10-1 record. But New Orleans can wrap up the division title with four games remaining with a win and a Carolina loss at Tampa Bay on Sunday.
“You don’t begin to count, but then you start beginning to do the things that are necessary to win,” said Saints’ coach Sean Payton, architect of the two longest winning streaks in franchise history.
“Generally, if you are going to have a decent team, you are going to win some games in a row,” he noted.
“It is going to be hard not to if you aspire to get into the post-season.”
The Cowboys (6-5) have a modest three-game run, capped by a Thanksgiving win over Washington that vaulted them to a tie for the NFC East lead with the Redskins.
Questions about the future of coach Jason Garrett have been replaced by talk of a second division title in three years.
“We have all the confidence in ourselves,” said Prescott, coming off a season-high 289 yards passing.
“They put on their pants the same way we do,” he reasoned. “They’ve won 10, and I guess we’ve won three [in a row].
“As I’ve said, we’re going to take it one game at a time. That’s all that matters.”
Brees, less than two months shy of his 40th birthday, leads the NFL in completion percentage and passer rating.
The 23-year-old Elliott, meanwhile, feels like a rookie again, with a chance to match his career-best run of four-straight 100-yard games from 2016, when he won the rushing title.
With three-consecutive games of at least 120 yards rushing, Elliott has overtaken Todd Gurley for the league rushing lead.
“I feel like I’m in a good place right now,” said Elliott, who has 1,074 yards to 1,043 for Gurley.
“Coaches have been doing a great job of putting me in runs where I’m comfortable, and just getting me going early and letting me get that momentum and being able to carry it through the game,” he noted.
Meanwhile, Dallas’ trade for new No. 1 receiver Amari Cooper is paying immediate dividends.
Not only is the offensive efficiency much better, but Cooper is among the NFL’s first-down conversion rate leaders for receivers since coming over from Oakland for the Cowboys’ 2019 first-round pick.
Cooper’s 180 yards against Washington were a team Thanksgiving record, and the 90-yard touchdown tied for the third-longest catch in club history.
“When you are a great player like him, and you get separation and run routes, it makes my job easy,” Prescott said.
“So when you have that, give credit to him.”

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