Dallas Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant had a preseason dream last year that he made every reporter keep secret.
He envisioned the Cowboys and Oakland Raiders meeting in the Super Bowl. He brought it up every few weeks as the Cowboys won 11 consecutive games en route to a 13-3 finish.
It ultimately didn’t happen as the Cowboys lost in the divisional playoffs and the Raiders saw their impressive season go up in smoke because of an injury to quarterback Derek Carr.
Well, how about this year?
The Cowboys are again favorites to win the NFC East, depending on how they fair without suspended running back Ezekiel Elliott for the first six games.
The Raiders, thanks to the return of Carr and the addition of running back Marshawn Lynch, are considered the team most likely to unseat the defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots in the AFC.
Think of all that when the Cowboys host the Raiders Saturday night at AT&T Stadium in the dress rehearsal game for the both teams.
It is the only preseason game that will most likely resemble a regular-season contest. The starters might play the entire first half.
And speaking of the regular season?
The two teams meet Dec. 17 in Oakland will playoff implications on the line and Elliott back from suspension.
So this is a regular season and possible Super Bowl preview at AT&T Stadium.
Here are five things to watch:
After sitting out the first three preseason games, star running back Ezekiel Elliott will see action for the first time. It will likely be only 10 or 12 plays, but it might be the last time he suits up until October, following a six-game suspension to start the season.
This the so-called dress rehearsal for the season. Dak Prescott and the starters will play at least a half. It was in last year’s dress-rehearsal game that saw the changing of the guard of the franchise. Tony Romo suffered a back injury three plays into the game against the Seattle Seahawks. Prescott took over and never looked back.
Smith vs. Lynch
Cowboys linebacker Jaylon Smith had an inspiring debut last week against the Indianapolis Colts. The Cowboys plan to increase his workload and see more of him against the run. The Raiders and running back Marshawn Lynch should provide the perfect test.
The pre-game rendition of the national anthem will have differing views from each sideline. Oakland running back Marshawn Lynch sits. Last week, quarterback Derek Carr placed his right hand on defensive end Khalil Mack’s left shoulder as a show of solidarity. The Cowboys have never protested.
Rush vs. Moore
The battle for the No. 2 quarterback is on. Rush will get snaps with the second-team offense for the first time in the preseason. He will likely go out first when Prescott leaves. Moore will go next. They will get equal time. Fourth quarterback Luke McCown is not expected to play in the game.
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