After a convincing victory over St. Louis at home, the Cowboys head to San Diego to face the Chargers with designs on improving their record to 3-1 for the first time since 2008. Dallas will hope to take advantage of the Chargers’ weak pass defense and beat-up offensive line. Here is a look at how both teams match up:
When the Cowboys run
Before DeMarco Murray rushed for 175 yards – the second-highest total of his career – the Cowboys spent the previous week fending off criticism of their woeful ground attack. Now that it appears their running game has been resuscitated, the Cowboys have to prove their performance in their 31-7 victory over St. Louis wasn’t a fluke. They’ll have a good chance to do that against the Chargers, who are yielding 130 rushing yards per game – the fifth-highest average in the NFL.
When the Cowboys pass
It seems to have gone largely unnoticed, but Tony Romo is off to a nice start in 2013. Only Peyton Manning has completed a higher percentage of his pass attempts than Romo, who also has thrown one interception. Romo was particularly effective in a 31-7 victory over St. Louis last Sunday, contributing three touchdown passes. The Chargers have conceded 340.7 passing yards per game – the highest average in the league. They have also allowed 16 completions of 20 yards or more.
When the Chargers run
San Diego’s rushing attack hasn’t been great. The Chargers have gained 102.7 yards per game on the ground – an average that is 18th-best in the NFL. But they have had only four negative running plays – the lowest total in the league. That bodes well for the Chargers against a Dallas defense that has yielded 199 rushing yards – the second-fewest in the NFL this season. Whether San Diego can get any big gains out of its running game remains in doubt. So far, they’ve produced only one carry of 20 yards or more.
When the Chargers pass
Philip Rivers has looked great the first three weeks of the season. He has avoided the costly mistakes that bit him in years past, throwing eight touchdown passes and only one interception. He’s also completed 70 percent of his passes. Rivers is only as good as his protection is. And the Chargers’ line will have its work cut out against a Cowboys defense that has produced 13 sacks – the second-highest total in the NFL this season.
The Cowboys’ special teams reverted to the poor form they showed in the preseason last Sunday in their victory over St. Louis. Dwayne Harris fumbled away a punt and Dan Bailey missed a 35-yard field goal. The coach who presides over these players, Rich Bisaccia, returns to San Diego, where he worked the previous two seasons. He’ll want the Cowboys to have a better showing than the one they had against the Rams. They may be able to take advantage of the Chargers’ Nick Novak, who has produced only one touchback in 17 kickoffs.
The Cowboys seems to like Southern California. It’s a place where they have trained in the preseason. And it’s also one where they’ve won. In San Diego, Dallas is 4-1. In fact the Cowboys haven’t lost there since November 1983. It’s a surprising fact considering the Chargers have the 11th-highest home winning percentage since 2000. But the Cowboys appear to be comfortable in San Diego.
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When: Sunday, September 29nd, 2013 at 3:25 (Dallas time)
Where: Qualcomm Stadium San Diego, CA
Watch on TV: FOX and DIRECTV: 709
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