The Cowboys, no small feat, are 2-point favorites on the road against the Broncos on Sunday, and many feel emboldened by the win in the season-opener against the Giants. After all, many observers had picked the Giants and their superior defense for the win - like Sam Farmer of the Los Angeles Times.
New York’s defense is going to be solid, and the Giants tend to play well at Dallas. They have had months to devise a game plan against Dak Prescott, and it pays off even with Ezekiel Elliott playing.
Which just goes to show that you can't take anything for granted in the NFL.
Bill Parcells used to say "Don't eat the cheese" when things were going well and he didn't want his players to take their success for granted, or to read about their success and get overconfident.
The Broncos are going to be a tough matchup for the Cowboys, irrespective of each team's play in the season opener and irrespective of where each team is ranked in this or that power ranking.
More often than not, winning in the NFL comes down to a few plays, and there's a good chance we could see that happening on Sunday as well.
Warnings about cheese notwithstanding, here's what some of the people getting paid for their opinions are predicting for the Cowboys' first road game of the year.
NFL (Harrison): Cowboys 20, Broncos 16
Will the Cowboys offensive line neutralize Denver's ILBs? Brandon Marshall and Todd Davis are very active. They get the pleasure of facing Ezekiel Elliott this week, not Alfred Morris, as it seemed like it would be before last week's court decision put Zeke's ban on hold.
Sporting News (Steele): Cowboys 23, Broncos 20
The Broncos offense will give the Cowboys defense more of a test than the Giants’ Odell-free unit did last week, even if Trevor Siemien doesn’t repeat that Michael Vick imitation he did against the Chargers. The Broncos defense sprung some untimely leaks in that game, though, which should make Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott and Co. grin. No reason to think Dak can’t march them the way Philip Rivers did on that defense if necessary.
Pro Football Talk (Smith): Cowboys 20, Broncos 10.
Trevor Siemian had a surprisingly good game in Week One, but I think the Cowboys’ defense is going to make him struggle.
Pro Football Talk (Florio): Cowboys 20, Broncos 13
The Cowboys looked great on each side of the ball against the Giants, and the Broncos’ offense is still a work in progress. With Ezekiel Elliott still available, Dallas continues to excel.
New York Times (Hoffman): Cowboys
Teams often talk about rebuilding through the draft, but most of them do not mean they are going to do it in one year. That’s what the Dallas Cowboys (1-0) did in 2016. Coming off a 4-12 season, the Cowboys took Ezekiel Elliott, a running back, with the fourth pick of the draft, and watched as he was named first-team All-Pro after leading the N.F.L. in rushing yards. Dak Prescott, a quarterback taken 135th, played so well as a fill-in starter that he was able to steal Tony Romo’s job even after the former Pro Bowler was healthy. Maliek Collins, a defensive tackle drafted 67th, started 14 games and registered five sacks. And Anthony Brown, a cornerback drafted 189th, started 10 games.
It was already an embarrassment of riches, but last week, Jaylon Smith, a linebacker whom they took a chance on with the 34th pick in that draft, returned after missing all of last season with a knee injury, and made up for lost time with seven tackles and a forced fumble. Smith’s career was once considered in jeopardy, and there was no guarantee he would regain his explosiveness, but if Week 1 was any indication, the Cowboys have added a fifth starter from a single draft, and potentially a third superstar.
There is still some ambiguity as to Elliott’s status going forward, [...] but with the offense at full strength, and Smith adding explosiveness to the defense, the Cowboys are nearly unbeatable. Pick: Cowboys
Miami Herald (Cote): Broncos 24, Cowboys 23
Upset. Hunch Broncs' big D at home will rise to test of potent Dallas attack.
CBS (Prisco): Broncos 21, Cowboys 17
The Broncos are playing on a short week, while the Cowboys impressed last week beating up the Giants. The Dallas defense looked good, which was somewhat of a surprise. The Broncos also play good defense, which will make it a challenge for Dallas. The Broncos have won the last five against the Cowboys. Make it six in a row.
LA Times (Farmer): Broncos 24 - Cowboys 21
Tough to play at Mile High, and Denver’s defense can be hard on young QBs. As well as Dallas has played with Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott, Denver is better than expected with Trevor Siemian.
71% of the experts and algorithms tallied by NFLPickwatch.com favor the Cowboys over the Broncos, including almost all the folks at Pro Football Focus:
What's your expectation for the game?