By Zach Walker
Sunday – September 15 – Noon
Arrowhead Stadium – Kansas City
If you thought the Cowboys would beat the Giants, you aren’t alone. If you thought it’d be a great game, you aren’t alone. If you thought the Giants would roll in and drop six turnovers, you are on an island all be yourself. From play number one, the Cowboys’ new defense was about one thing, getting the ball. But the first three Giants’ turnovers would result in only three Cowboys’ points, not good, and a miscommunication between Tony Romo and Terrance Williams had the ball going the other way for the Cowboys, and looking like a pick-six, I thought, “same sh$!, different day.” But the defense had more resolve than that, holding the Giants to a field goal, even though they started from the one-yard line. Lots have said that the Cowboys should have won that game by at least 17 points, but this was the Giants, what in recent history had said that they were just going to lie there and take it? So it was only five points? Last October, the Cowboys had six turnovers to the Giants two, and that game ended 29-24. Fair and balanced? Let’s keep it that way.
This game had highs and lows for the Cowboys. The lowest was the thoughts of possibly having to play a full season without Tony Romo, as he was sandwiched by two Giants players and took a helmet straight to the ribs. Until Romo came onto the field in the second half, the Cowboys were on the fast track towards a top-5 pick in the NFL Draft. The highs were the takeaways: three interceptions, two fumbles forced against David Wilson, and a muffed punt recovered by Dwayne Harris and DeVonte “Dibs” Holloman. The Cowboys forced the Giants to become one dimensional and for that, the Cowboys gave up 450-plus yards to Eli Manning, just to keep them in the game. It was a hell of a way to start the season, and a great first win against the Giants in AT&T Stadium, but it’s all in front of them now.
This game against the Kansas City Chiefs is full of truly excellent matchups all over the field, and I’m going through my ones to watch.
#1: Brandon Carr versus Dwayne Bowe: This matchup, to me, is the most interesting. Brandon Carr was in Kansas City for four years before joining the Cowboys, and he saw Dwayne Bowe, every day in practice as he got better and moved up to one of the top two cornerbacks on the Chiefs roster. So Bowe isn’t new to Carr, and vice-versa. The difference, besides the jersey and helmet change for Carr, is that Dwayne Bowe has Alex Smith throwing at him. But that could be good for Carr as well, because Alex Smith never really did well with coordinator changes, actually until Jim Harbaugh, Smith was a dud, so pardon me if I don’t latch myself to the idea of Alex Smith being great under Andy Reid, I’ll believe it when it happens. Edge: Carr 65%/Bowe 35%
#2: Bruce Carter versus Jamaal Charles: Bruce Carter was all over the field against the Giants and even recorded a sack, but his range on the field is ridiculous, he’s everywhere. What helps Carter even more are the players around him, Sean Lee, DeMarcus Ware, and Jason Hatcher make Bruce Carter that much more dangerous. Nick Hayden deserves to be on his own sentence because he played great on Sunday night, forcing a fumble and being a constant fly in the ointment. Jamaal Charles has a quadriceps injury but signs point to him playing on Sunday. When Charles is healthy, he’s more than dangerous, he can be deadly to a defense and with top tackles on both sides of the Chiefs line, he has the push to get loose. Barry Church and Sean Lee are going to have to help drag Charles down alongside Carter, because Charles is the key to the Chiefs game. Edge: Carter 80%/Charles 20%, Charles is injured and Carter has great help.
#3: Travis Frederick versus Dontari Poe: Travis Frederick had a darn good game, outside of a fumbled exchange with him and Romo. But the Giants are a 4-3 team, Frederick has to be more aware and help the other linemen for the most part throughout the game, but I feel like he might already be, the most solid piece of the Cowboys’ offensive line, even over stud left tackle Tyron Smith. But the Chiefs run a 3-4, so big Dontari Poe is going to be lined up over top of him, and Poe a week ago had his best game of his short career, registering 1.5 sacks and a pass deflection. This game, more than the Giants, is going to be a true test of the Cowboys offensive line. In the trenches is where the game is going to be won or lost, and this battle is definitely a great one to watch out for. Edge: Frederick 50%/Poe 50%
#4: Dez Bryant versus Brandon Flowers: Dez Bryant had a… uneventful game. And when he did catch one, he got his foot under the DB and sprained it. Major bummer. But he’s going to play. Brandon Flowers is a damn good corner, and he, like his former teammate Brandon Carr, already has an interception. And if you doubt Flowers’ ability as a corner, they did let go of Brandon Carr. Edge: Dez Bryant 50%/Brandon Flowers 50%
#5: Tyron Smith versus Justin Houston: Tyron Smith played a great game against Jason Pierre-Paul, but he was running on seven cylinders and Justin Houston won’t be, he’s firing on all cylinders. Houston was the AFC Defensive Player of the Week, recording three sacks and was a constant force against the Jaguars. Smith has faced a lot of top-shelf pass rushers in his short time in the league, and Houston is trying to break into that category of young stud pass rushers. If it is Smith versus Houston, it should be a great watch. Edge: Tyron Smith 80%/Justin Houston 20%
Other Matchups: Dallas Running Backs versus Kansas City Linebackers; Jason Witten versus Eric Berry; Sean Lee versus Anthony Fasano; DeMarcus Ware versus Brandon Albert; Dallas Cowboys versus Kansas City Chiefs
Last week’s MVPs: Offense: Tony Romo; Defense: Barry Church; Special Teams: Dwayne Harris
Prediction: Dallas 17 – Kansas City 14; I don’t think the Chiefs offense is anywhere near the Giants offense, so the Cowboys defense should, if (and I’m not saying it was) Sunday wasn’t a fluke, shouldn’t be a problem. But the Kansas City defense is good, very good. Points will have to be earned in this game.