Dallas Cowboys: The Four Quarters (Week 2 Edition)


Week 1 is in the books and the Dallas Cowboys certainly did not disappoint their fans and football fans in general.  Not only did Dallas vanquish the demon of losing at home to the New York Giants to start out 1-0 on the season, but they also did so in the dramatic fashion you would come to expect from a prime time showdown.  The Cowboys forced an unheard of SIX turnovers but possibly even more oddly only won by five points.  As the old adage goes though, a win is a win and Dallas will certainly take it as they head off to Kansas City to face yet another old rival in the Andy Reid led Chiefs in Week 2.

Last week, the new look Chiefs offense installed by Reid and led by quarterback Alex Smith went on the road and demolished the Jacksonville Jaguars 28-2.  After having a punt blocked early in the game to fall behind 2-0, Kansas City never blinked and scored 28 unanswered points including two touchdowns in the first quarter and another midway through quarter two.  Speaking of quarters, it is now time to dissect this week’s game by unveiling the Week 2 edition of The Four Quarters

Packing for the road trip

Sep 8, 2013; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys safety Barry Church (42) picks up a fumble and returns it for a touchdown in the third quarter against the New York Giants at AT

It is said that when you play on the road, you want to make sure you bring your defense and your running game.  Well Dallas certainly showed they have both to bring last week.  Even though the numbers don’t wow you, the ability to get DeMarco Murray twenty carries was crucial to the Cowboys success.  Few teams will be balanced in this day and age of football, it’s a passing league.  But the threat of Murray sometimes can be just as significant as the actual production.  As for the defense, the Cowboys stopped the run very well last week, limiting the Giants to 50 rushing yards.  One player who was all over the place was Barry Church.  Church ended up with eight tackles, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery and a touchdown.  If Dallas can control the ball with Murray offensively and defensively, stop the Chiefs big play threat in Jamaal Charles, that would go a long way towards getting a second straight victory to start the season.

Pick your poison

Sep 8, 2013; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten (82) makes a second quarter touchdown catch against New York Giants linebacker Mark Herlich (58) and safety Ryan Mundy (21) at AT

Simply put, the Cowboys have way too many weapons on offense for the Chiefs to stop.  Kansas City has a great cornerback in Brandon Flowers and a very good safety in Eric Berry.  Dallas has Dez Bryant, Miles Austin and Jason Witten, all of whom can make big plays at any point.  Last week, the Giants entire defensive game plan was centered around taking Bryant out of the game.  That left Austin and Witten single covered which allowed them to combine for 18 catches, 142 yards and 2 touchdowns.  This doesn’t include DeMarco Murray’s 125 combined rushing/receiving yards.  I do not believe that the Chiefs can matchup across the board with Dallas’ skill position players so there should be some big plays to be had again for the Cowboys.  Look for either Bryant and/or Witten to have at least 100 yards and a touchdown in this game.

Familiarity breeds contempt

The Cowboys are 6-3 versus Andy Reid coached teams in their last nine attempts.  Ironically, they are also 6-3 versus the Chiefs all-time, having won four of the last five meetings.  While a lot of the discussion this week and throughout the game will be on the Cowboys and their familiarity facing an Andy Reid offense, what you may not know is that the Chiefs defensive coordinator, Bob Sutton should bring something similar to the table as well.  Sutton worked under Rex Ryan who, of course, is the brother of former Cowboys DC Rob Ryan.  This should be helpful to the Cowboys offense as the same exotic looks that the Ryan’s like to employ will be on display Sunday in Kansas City.  For the Cowboys to be successful, the offensive line will have to be able to keep Tony Romo clean as you can bank on seeing a lot of aggressive blitzing from the Chiefs which could result in big plays for Dallas, if they provide Romo any time at all.

Fools Gold

Sep 8, 2013; Arlington, TX, USA; New York Giants receiver Hakeem Nicks (88) runs after a catch in the first quarter against Dallas Cowboys cornerback Morris Claiborne (24) at AT

What is more the important and telling statistic to take away from last week?  Is it the six turnovers?  Two of which produced touchdowns and another surely prevented at least three points, if not six… or is it that Dallas gave up over 450 yards through the air?  While it is easy to get wrapped up in the new defense doing what so many others previously could not, I cannot disregard the alarming pass defense.  Turnovers are inherently random.  You cannot count on the opposition being careless with the ball and you certainly cannot control the bounce of a ball.  The Cowboys must address the issue of allowing teams to move the ball so easily through the air as well as the big play after big play that occurred time and again versus New York.  Last week, three different receivers averaged 20+ yards per reception.  This has to get fixed immediately or else the Cowboys could find themselves doing the same old tired win one, lose one dance that has defined the Jason Garrett era.

The prediction: Cowboys 27, Chiefs 17

On to the picks for Week 2.  Last week could have been so much better had I not stumbled on Monday Night Football.  I was 9-5 against the spread heading into the night-time double-header which saw both under dogs cover the spread with Philadelphia winning outright.  There were no wild trends last week as the home under dogs (3-2) and road under dogs (6-5) were the majority winners.  I did not start this week out on the right foot either as my Thursday night pick, New England, attempting to cover a ridiculous 13 point spread barely even won the game. Hopefully Sunday will treat me much better.

LAST WEEK: 9-7 (.563)
SEASON RECORD: 9-8 (.529)
WEEK TWO: 0-1 (.000)

-7 PHILADELPHIA over San Diego
+6.5 Cleveland over BALTIMORE
+9 Tennessee over HOUSTON
-3 INDIANAPOLIS over Miami
+3 BUFFALO over Carolina
-5.5 ATLANTA over St. Louis
-7 GREEN BAY over Washington
+3 Dallas over KANSAS CITY
-6 CHICAGO over Minnesota
-3.5 New Orleans over TAMPA BAY
+1.5 ARIZONA over Detroit
+5.5 Jacksonville over OAKLAND
-4.5 Denver over N.Y. GIANTS
+3 San Francisco over SEATTLE
-7 CINCINNATI over Pittsburgh

This week’s “Fab Four” picks would be Atlanta -5.5, Dallas +3, Buffalo +3 and New Orleans -3.5. Just like last week, $25 would get you $250. Hopefully the result is unlike last week, however and the profit would +$200 instead of down $50 for the year.