It’s been 10 seasons since the Dallas Cowboys started 0-2. Dallas has the third-longest streak in the NFL without an 0-2 start, trailing just the Patriots (2001) and Packers (2006).
This week, the Cowboys face another formidable opponent in the Los Angeles Chargers. With plenty of injuries on both sides of the ball, it’s going to be an uphill battle for the Cowboys to walk out of L.A. with a victory.
Before the Cowboys and Chargers square off, here are three bold predictions for Sunday’s game.
1) Cedrick Wilson Leads The Team In Receiving Yards
Injuries create opportunities. With Michael Gallup sidelined for at least the next three weeks, fourth-year wideout Cedrick Wilson has a great chance to show why he could be Gallup’s eventual long-term replacement at season’s end.
We’ve seen Wilson perform in early-season action before. Just last year, the former sixth-round pick had the best game of his career against Seattle in Week 3, catching five passes for 107 yards and two touchdowns.
Cedrick WIlson season stats:— PFF (@PFF) September 27, 2020
Cedrick Wilson is on— Blogging The Boys (@BloggingTheBoys) September 27, 2020
(via @NFLBrasil) pic.twitter.com/yEmqk8sHXS
Wilson has a great rapport with Dak Prescott, and the two were able to have a nice connection on the field last season. In the five games Prescott played in, Wilson was targeted 17 times, catching 12 passes for 163 yards, 13.58 Y/R, and two touchdowns.
Wilson played 34 snaps in the opener against Tampa, catching all three of his targets for 24 receiving yards. This week against the Chargers, he’ll play a much larger role in the offense.
With so much of the Chargers’ attention devoted to slowing down Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb, Wilson has a chance to feast as the forgotten receiver. The Prescott-Wilson connection will be strong once again, and the 25-year-old wideout will have a huge day.
2) Tarell Basham Forces A Strip-Sack
Just like the Cowboys, the Chargers have dealt with some injury issues this week. On Friday the team announced that starting tackle Bryan Bulaga will be placed on injured reserve, causing him to miss this weekend's game.
With the Cowboys injury/COVID situation forcing DeMarcus Lawrence, and likely Randy Gregory, to be unavailable for this game, Dallas will turn to 27-year-old Tarell Basham to spark the defense's pass-rush.
The edge rusher has 7.5 career sacks, including 3.5 coming with the Jets last season.
LET'S GO, @TarellBasham pic.twitter.com/Hx96ZyyfJv— New York Jets (@nyjets) October 25, 2020
When Basham spoke this week, he noted that the Dallas defense is still confident they can pressure the passer minus their two best pass-rushers.
“We got a plan,” Basham said.
“We confident, we confident,” Basham said.
Going up against the Chargers’ offensive line without Bulaga, Basham will make his first big impact as a Cowboy this Sunday. The former third-round pick will force a strip-sack on Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert, giving the Cowboys defense a much-needed spark.
3) Greg Zuerlein misses a big kick, again
You never want to pin a loss on a single player, but if Greg Zuerlein makes a 31-yard field goal and extra point, there’s a good chance the Cowboys walk out of Tampa with a win.
Greg Zuerlein absolutely blew this field goal attempt...— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPointsApp) September 10, 2021
Cowboys fans sick rn pic.twitter.com/9bEaL27a1Q
Zuerlein himself spoke after the game and agreed with the sentiment that if he does his job, the Cowboys get the victory.
“If I do my job, we win that game,” Zuerlein said after the Cowboys’ 31-29 loss at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa. “So I feel bad for the guys in there that played their ass off and I didn’t hold up my end of the deal.”
Zuerlein is a 10-year veteran so it’s easy to just assume the missed kicks were due to rust after having just one field goal attempt in the preseason, but missing from that close twice is a really bad look.
Kickers are streaky, and sometimes all it takes is one bad kick to start a downward spiral. Unfortunately for the Cowboys, the kicking woes will once again come up big in Los Angeles on Sunday.