Just In:Top 3 under-the-radar AFC players on the Cowboys 2024 schedule…Read More.

As summer approaches, the NFL is gearing up to release the 2024 schedule on May 15th. While the list of opponents has been out for a while, fans are eagerly waiting to find out the specific dates and times for each game. In the upcoming 17-game season, the Dallas Cowboys will play nine games at home and eight on the road, facing off against teams from the AFC North and an exciting in-state battle with the Houston Texans. The AFC teams are less familiar to the Cowboys, adding an element of unpredictability, so it’s worth getting acquainted with some lesser-known players who could make a big impact. Here are three underrated players from the AFC teams that the Cowboys will face this season.

First on our list of underrated players to watch for the Dallas Cowboys’ 2024 AFC opponents is Bengals running back Chase Brown. Brown, a second-year player from Illinois, is a deep sleeper pick who could make a name for himself this season. While the Bengals recently added free agent Zack Moss, Brown has the potential to make an impact in the running game. During his last two years at Illinois, he was a powerhouse, racking up over 2,600 rushing yards. If his name sounds familiar to Cowboys fans, it might be because his identical twin brother, Sydney Brown, was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles last season. Like his brother, Chase is known for his physical and rugged playing style. Although he spent his rookie season as the backup to Joe Mixon, the Bengals’ trade of Mixon to the Texans indicates their confidence in Brown’s ability to step up and contribute to the team’s backfield. Keep an eye on him as he could emerge as a key player for the Bengals in the 2024 season.

Brown’s combine numbers further illustrate his athletic upside, running a 4.43 forty-yard dash, 25 reps on the bench press and a 40-inch vertical jump. If the Bengals expect to protect Joe Burrow, who is coming off another season-ending injury, that starts with more efficiency out of the running game, and Brown has all the makings of an effective runner. With Moss’ injury history, expect Brown to see significant playing time and with Moss’ modest contract, may take control of the backfield by midseason.

He’s a relative unknown now, but as fantasy drafts come along, and so does the preseason, Brown’s name will be mentioned more frequently ahead of their game against Dallas.

Isaiah Likely is a compelling prospect with a background as a converted wide receiver from Coastal Carolina, boasting an impressive athletic profile. His size, at 6’4″ and 241 pounds, creates mismatch opportunities similar to players like Darren Waller, who also transitioned from wide receiver. Likely’s size and athleticism make him a threat on the field.

With Mark Andrews sidelined due to injury, Likely took on a larger role and capitalized on the opportunity. Despite his relatively slow 40-yard dash time of 4.83 seconds, Likely’s game tape reveals a surprising level of explosiveness. He ended the season on a high note, averaging 14 or more yards per reception in five consecutive games. A standout moment was his game against the Los Angeles Rams, where he hauled in five receptions for 83 yards. This performance demonstrated his potential to be a significant playmaker, showing that he’s more than just his speed; he’s a player with big-play capability.

Contrary to Andrews, Likely provides a more vertical threat within the Ravens offense. Here’s where Likely makes things more interesting. Considering how the Ravens would like to control the LOS scrimmage for the running game that includes Lamar Jackson, don’t get caught off guard by them wanting to run multiple tight end sets that feature Andrews and Likely to run the football. Likely’s emergence at tight end and the return of Andrews make it easy for teams to get lulled to sleep by Andrews before Likely runs loose in the secondary as a big target for Lamar Jackson.

It’s reasonable that Jalen Pitre doesn’t receive too much fanfare. The Texans are a team on the rise due to their phenomenal rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud and head coach Demeco Ryans, both capturing national headlines. Further still, Pitre may be even more overshadowed by the recent additions to his defense, which now includes edge rusher Danielle Hunter and linebacker Azeez Al-Shair. That said, Pitre has been an exceptional contributor to the Texans’ turnaround well before any of his aforementioned Texans teammates arrived in Houston.

Pitre was named to the PFWA All-Rookie team in 2022 and finished fifth in voting for Defensive Rookie of the Year, recording 147 total tackles with five interceptions. He had a relatively quieter 2023 season, but the potential is still there, and surrounded by more talent, he should return to his level of play from his rookie season. Pitre is a big hitter over the middle with good instincts to play the pass and nearly intercepted Dak Prescott the last time the Cowboys faced the Texans.

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