Someone’s hopes for a perfect season will be demolished on Sunday afternoon at Arrowhead Stadium when the Dallas Cowboys visit the Kansas City Chiefs. The Chiefs are coming off a 28-2 spanking of the Jacksonville Jaguars, while the Cowboys edged the Giants 36-31 despite carding six takeaways.
The Chiefs were a popular pick to be much improved with the addition of new head coach Andy Reid and new quarterback Alex Smith. It’s hard to evaluate anything when you play a team like Jacksonville though, but i’ll at least take a crack at it in order to see what could be some beneficial or problematic match ups for the Cowboys.
On the offensive side of the ball the regular names like Jamaal Charles and Dwayne Bowe stand out. Bowe’s numbers were a little down last year, but you have to remember that Matt Cassel and Brady Quinn were taking snaps in 2012. Bowe will still get well over 100 targets this year and he should collect 80 receptions easily. Other than that though, the Chiefs aren’t very deep at the wide receiver position with Donnie Avery, Junior Hemingway, and AJ Jenkins. They’ve been so desperate for WR depth, that they use third running back Dexter McCluster as a wideout sometimes and they’ve had some success using him in the slot.
With Morris Claiborne clearly not going to be 100%, if he even suits up at all, the Cowboys are left with 3 healthy cornerbacks. When you look at the Kansas City receiving depth, it makes you realize that the Cowboys are pretty lucky to be playing an offensively challenged team this week. Even with Mo not 100%, and the team being torched for 450 yards through the air last week, i’m pretty confident in the secondary’s ability to shut down any huge gain opportunities through the air for Kansas City. Why shouldn’t I be confident? Quarterback Alex Smith only through one ball over 20 yards last week against Jacksonville, and was just 4-7 for 55 yards in the 10-19 yard range. Most of his success throughout his career has come when he doesn’t have to make plays down the field to win games. Last week against the Jags, Smith completed 17 of his 21 total passing attempts, at a depth of 9 yards or less. Dallas should be able to focus on stopping the run and check down options, and should be able to force Alex Smith to beat them deep down the field.
On the offensive side of the ball, i’m really looking forward to the matchup of Travis Frederick and Dontari Poe. If you remember, before the Cowboys traded up for Morris Claiborne in the 2012 draft, Poe was seen by many as a potential target for the Cowboys in the first round to be the nose tackle in Rob Ryan’s exotic 3-4 scheme. Poe struggled in his rookie season, but had a strong effort in Week 1. What makes Poe so dangerous to me this week is that the Chiefs have excellent inside linebackers in Akeem Jordan and Derrick Johnson, so Frederick will have his hands full calling out blitzes and blocking responsibilities.
With Tony Romo likely a little sore from the rib-smashing hit from Sunday night, i’m expecting the Cowboys try to run the ball as much as possible. It seems like something we’ve been saying for years, but if Romo is dropping back to pass 50 times again on Sunday, then something has gone horribly wrong.
Last week, we saw the Giants make a blatant attempt to shut down Dez Bryant and it worked. I’m curious to see how Kansas City handles Dez. Unlike New York, the Chiefs actually have a shut down corner. If it’s Dez Bryant vs. Brandon Flowers (not the lead singer of The Killers), then we’ve got ourselves a very entertaining matchup to watch on the outside.
All in all the main key of the game for me is going to be if George Selvie and Nick Hayden prove that last week wasn’t an aberration. Shut down the run and force Alex Smith to beat you and you’re odds are good. If Jamaal Charles gets going and runs wild like I expected David Wilson to last week, then the Cowboys hands are full, especially in one of the toughest environments in the league Arrowhead Stadium.
I think the Cowboys lose this one, but I expect it to be a nail-biter all the way until the end like most Cowboys games over the last couple seasons. I’ll go Chiefs 24 Cowboys 20
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