DALLAS (AP) The Cowboys will have to do a lot of things right to avoid losing to the Raiders this Sunday.
They will have a lot to prove, particularly on offense.
The offense was the Cowboys’ Achilles’ heel before Dak Prescott was a household name.
Prescott’s rookie season ended early in Week 6 with a shoulder injury.
Prescott has yet to return.
But the Cowboys also have some big holes to fill on defense, especially in the secondary.
The Raiders have a top-five offense, and Oakland is coming off a win at home over the Colts that was one of its biggest upsets of the season.
The Cowboys have been one of the NFL’s most improved teams this season and should be able to score plenty of points.
They have to avoid giving up too many long gains and make sure they stay disciplined in their approach to the game.
The best defense has to be the Raiders, who have struggled to stop teams in their own territory, especially over the past month.
Prescott is one of two quarterbacks who have thrown for 300 or more yards in each of the past three games, and the Cowboys can only hope that Prescott’s knee is feeling better after the bye week.
Prescott could be cleared for full practice in the coming days.
Rookie wide receiver Dez Bryant also has a shot at playing this weekend.
Bryant has missed four games with an ankle injury.
Bryant’s absence was the only major injury for the Cowboys last week.
If Bryant is available, he will likely start for Prescott.
The defense was also one of Prescott’s biggest concerns heading into this season, and they have looked more than adequate since the bye.
The three-man front is one the Cowboys were able to replace with a group that includes safety Barry Church, cornerback Morris Claiborne and safety Dez Buechele.
Claiborne and Buechelle are among the league leaders in interceptions, while Claiborn is fourth.
Buechles six interceptions in his last two games are tied for most in the NFL.
He has been in the top 10 in interceptions in three of the last four seasons.
Claip is the league leader in pass breakups.
The top cornerbacks in pass defense are Eric Berry, who has nine, and Darian Stewart, who is second with seven.
The outside cornerbacks are Corey Nelson, who leads the league with three interceptions, and Bashaud Breeland, who was fourth in pass deflections last season with five.
Safety Brandon Carr, who had a career-high six interceptions last week, was not with the Cowboys on Monday.
Carr will miss the first two games of the regular season with a hamstring injury.
He is expected to be ready for the Raiders.
The biggest difference between this and the past two games has been Prescott’s ability to get the ball out of his hands quickly.
Prescott had three sacks in last week’s loss to the Colts.
He had one sack in last month’s loss at Tennessee.
The third-year quarterback had no turnovers last week against the Colts and has two in his past three starts.
Prescott made eight of 16 throws for 122 yards in the Raiders’ 28-20 loss to Kansas City.
The rookie quarterback has completed 62.9 percent of his passes for 1,965 yards, 13 touchdowns and nine interceptions.
The only quarterback to have at least 10 touchdown passes in a game against the Raiders is Philip Rivers.
Prescott also had a pair of interceptions in the Cowboys 29-10 win at Minnesota.
Prescott threw for 193 yards in that game and had two touchdown passes.
The defensive tackle is tied for third on the team in tackles for loss with 19.3.
The big difference this year is that Prescott has started eight of 10 games this season.
He threw for 200 yards and two touchdowns in a 28-16 win over the Raiders in Week 1.
He completed 59.9 and had one touchdown pass in the victory.
Prescott will start the Raiders game against Oakland, but he has been limited in practice.
He said Monday that he hopes to play this weekend, but it is not certain.
He will start if healthy and if the Cowboys win Sunday.