It is the second week of the season. The Dallas Cowboys and the Kansas City Chiefs both notched wins in the opening weekend. Both are coming off of disappointing seasons with high hopes for this year. KC has a new head coach in old Cowboys nemesis Andy Reid, and Dallas has a new defensive coordinator and offensive playcaller.
To be honest, with the season this new and so many things going on with both teams, there is an argument to be made that the real matchup to watch is everybody vs. everybody. Both teams are still establishing their identities and sorting out what will work. However, there are always some matchups on the field that are especially intriguing. Here are some I'll have my eye on.
Dez Bryant vs. the Chiefs' secondary. My understanding is that Brandon Flowers and Sean Smith play the same side on each play, so Bryant will likely see both of them during the game. It is also likely that KC will take a page out of the New York Giants' playbook and try to double him with Eric Berry or Kendrick Lewis. After being held to four catches for 22 yards, Bryant said all the right things about it being about winning and him helping the other receivers by drawing attention. But don't be fooled. He is ready to put up some yards and throw up the "X" in the end zone. Even if the Chiefs are able to keep him under control, that will just likely lead to Miles Austin, Jason Witten and the other receivers having good days. Still, Bryant wants to start living up to all the pre-season hype.
Travis Frederick vs. Dontari Poe. Cowboys fans are very happy with the way Fredbeard conducted himself in his first start against the Giants' touted pass rush. Chiefs fans seem to be convinced that Poe is nearly unstoppable in his second season. This will be a bit different for Frederick since KC uses a 3-4 defense and he will have Poe lined up directly on him all game. He may get a little extra help if Brian Waters is able to come in for at least part of the game, but whoever lines up on either side of him, Tony Romo needs his rookie center to keep the middle pressure out of his face.
Jamaal Charles vs. the Cowboys' linebackers. Charles was the Chiefs' most potent offensive weapon, accounting for a combined 100 yards rushing and receiving, and the Cowboys are well aware of him. With the Kiffin/Marinelli approach of using the down linemen as rushmen, the main responsibility for stopping the run and covering the short routes out of the backfield falls to the linebackers. With Sean Lee and Bruce Carter both healthy, this should be something they and Justin Durant can handle, and they certainly kept the NYG running attack bottled up. But they are also going to have to control those short pass routes, which has been more of a challenge so far.
Cowboys defensive ends vs. Eric Fisher. The first player taken in the 2013 draft is the most vulnerable player on the KC offensive line. The right tackle is likely to see both George Selvie and DeMarcus Ware at times as Dallas tries to take advantage of the rookie, plus Anthony Spencer will likely see his first action of the season lined up against him. The Chiefs will probably have to give him help from a TE for most of the game if they want to keep Alex Smith upright, especially with Ware looking to get his hands on that cigar.
The entire Cowboys defense vs. whoever has the football. Five takeaways by the defense in the opening game (plus one by special teams) is unsustainable, right? Well, don't tell Kiffin's Kleptomaniacs that. Their attitude is that they earned those turnovers, and they have every intention of continuing the habit. If they do get multiple takeaways for a second game, this could become the signature feature of the 2013 Cowboys, and it could mean really good things in the long run.
But right now, it is one game to play. Time to stack the good ones on top of each other. These are the things I will be watching this week, but there are certainly others. What will you have your eye on?
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