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Week 4 Preview: Dallas Cowboys Vs. San Diego Chargers

By Shawn S. Lealos for CBSDFW.COM
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NASHVILLE, TN - SEPTEMBER 22:  Antonio Gates #85 of the San Diego Chargers makes a one handed catch near the sidelines during a game against the Tennessee Titans at LP Field on September 22, 2013 in Nashville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)

(Credit, Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)

It has been a Jekyll and Hyde season for the Dallas Cowboys, who looked dominant in the first and third games, but failed to impress anyone in their second game, a loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. With those Chiefs looking better than anyone thought they could be, the poor Week 2 performance might not be totally the Cowboys’ fault. This week, they meet another AFC West opponent in the San Diego Chargers.

Just three years ago, the Chargers had one of the top offenses in football, with Philip Rivers as an All-Pro quarterback and weapons like Vincent Jackson and Darren Sproles making them one of the AFC’s most exciting teams. However, things have gone south for the Chargers since then, with Rivers becoming less than ordinary after Jackson left the team and Ryan Mathews not developing into the game-changing running back they envisioned.

It ended up costing Norv Turner his job in San Diego.

New head coach Mike McCoy has come in and done what he can to turn this team around. Whatever he did in the offseason, it has worked wonders for Rivers. The quarterback has thrown 48 interceptions in the past three seasons and that has killed his team. Part of that was because of a lack of superstar talent at wide receiver, but a lot of it was on Rivers’ head as well.

This season, through three games, Rivers has thrown for 798 yards with eight touchdowns and only one interception. It is almost like a rebirth for the one-time star quarterback.

Rivers has done this without Malcom Floyd, who has been battling a neck injury. That absence has been covered by the emergence of former Denver Broncos receiver Eddie Royal, who has reemerged as well in 2013. In his first three games, Royal has caught 12 passes for 148 yards and five touchdowns. If Floyd doesn’t return against the Cowboys, Vincent Brown will continue to replace him in the lineup across from Royal.

The biggest weapon for Rivers is tight end Antonio Gates. While the big receiver is not the game breaker he once was, he looks to be healthy for the first time in a long time and has 15 receptions for 228 yards and one touchdown on the season.

The running game still hasn’t improved, with Ryan Mathews’ best performance in a Week 2 game with the Philadelphia Eagles where he only gained 73 rushing yards. Outside of a reception for a score in Week 1, he hasn’t seen the end zone this year.

Thanks to the reemergence of the passing game, the Chargers have been competitive in all three games, beating the Eagles while losing by three to the Houston Texans and three to the Tennessee Titans. Their losses are due to the fact that they are giving up 28 points a game and rank 31st in passing defense and 28th in rushing defense.

With those numbers, it looks like Tony Romo and DeMarco Murray will both have a big game with the Chargers needing their offense to keep up. The Chargers defense is led by Eric Weddle, who has a team-leading 24 tackles, 19 solo, but the unit only has one interception as their sole turnover of the season and a low six total sacks through three games.

If San Diego has a chance to win, it will be in a shootout.

The Dallas Cowboys and San Diego Chargers kick off at 3 p.m. CST on Sunday, Sept. 29. Listen to the game locally on 105.3 The Fan.

For more Cowboys news and updates, visit Cowboys Central.

Shawn S. Lealos is a freelance writer who graduated from the University of Oklahoma in 2000 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism. He writes for a variety of national publications and has over 15 years of sports journalism experience. Follow Shawn on Twitter @sslealos. Examiner.com.