After a strong performance in their victory over the New York Giants in the season opener, the Dallas Cowboys head to Kansas City.
Defensive end Anthony Spencer is expected to play. So too is newly-acquired guard Brian Waters. They should help a Cowboys team that will look to move to 2-0 for the first time since 2008. Here is a look at the Cowboys’ keys to victory in their game against the Chiefs:
Jason Garrett lauded the offensive line’s pass protection the Cowboys’ victory over the Giants last Sunday. But Tony Romo was still sacked twice and hit so hard he suffered bruised ribs that seemed to affect his performance in the second half. Considering Romo will be only seven days removed from the injury, shielding him from further harm is a priority. The Cowboys depend on Romo. He’s their biggest asset and Chiefs outside linebacker Tamba Hali, one of the better pass rushers in the NFL, will be hunting him.
Pressure but don’t blitz
The player with the second-best passer rating last season in the face of blitzes wasn’t Peyton Manning or Tom Brady or even Aaron Rodgers. It was Alex Smith, the Chiefs quarterback who started nine games for San Francisco in 2012. When teams sent at least one extra defender to harass him, Smith completed 50 of 69 attempts for 611 yards and seven touchdowns against only one interception. Only Washington’s Robert Griffin III fared better than Smith when the pressure was cranked up. Smith, who is mobile, must be contained. But he has shown he can beat the blitz.
Contain Jamaal Charles
Kansas City coach Andy Reid has a reputation as a quarterback guru. But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t like to run the ball. In 2011, when he was running the show in Philadelphia, the Eagles were fifth in rushing as Reid leaned heavily on LeSean McCoy. It can be argued that Charles is an even more dynamic running back than McCoy is. If the Cowboys can limit Charles, they know they can stymie Reid’s West Coast offense.
The Cowboys defensive coaches were beaming after their victory over the New York Giants. From the moment off-season practices began they had been preaching the importance of making interceptions and retrieving fumbles. So what did the Cowboys do? They forced six turnovers, five on defense. Still, the Cowboys beat the Giants by less than a touchdown, and that margin of victory shows how important those takeaways were. The Cowboys need more of them to show their turnover bonanza wasn’t a fluke.
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When: Sunday, September 15th, 2013 at high noon (Dallas time)
Where: Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, Missouri
Watch on TV: FOX; check local listings
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