Dec 2, 2012; Arlington, TX, USA; Philadelphia Eagles head coach Andy Reid meets with Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett after the game at Cowboys Stadium. The Cowboys beat the Eagles 38-33. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
Before diving into the coming game, I feel it necessary to share just a few comments thrown at me and my HOW ‘BOUT THEM COWBOYS t-shirt here in New Jersey after our victory over the Giants. “We turned it over six times and you only won by 5 points!” “When’s the last time you won a Super Bowl?” Lastly, my favorite: “Really, Eli was responsible for about 250 of your yards.” It felt good; it really did.
With that out of the way, let’s focus on this weekend, because the Chiefs are no joke. Sunday’s game will be a huge test for many of our players and the various new schemes that have been implemented. Below, I have highlighted key match-ups, some of which carry very intriguing back-stories. First, however, a quick history lesson:
The Kansas City Chiefs began as the Dallas Texans in 1960. They were part of the American Football League, and were started by AFL Founder Lamar Hunt. The Cowboys and Texans shared Cotton Bowl Stadium, which now hosts a number of sporting events. The cross-town rivalry was short-lived, though, as Hunt relocated the team to Kansas City in 1963 where they became the Chiefs. Now, onto the match-ups:
Tamba Hali v. Tyron Smith / Justin Houston v. Doug Free
Oct 2, 2011; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Tamba Hali (91) is congratulated by defensive end Wallace Gilberry (92) after sacking Minnesota Vikings quarterback Donovan McNabb (bottom) in the second half at Arrowhead Stadium. The Chiefs won the game 22-17. Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports
This, my friends, will be the true test of our offensive line – especially on the outside. Tamba Hali is a downright force. He’s a top candidate for one of the most unsung players in the league. The Liberia native will perhaps be the most challenging opponent Tyron Smith has ever faced as a LT.
Unfortunately, his teammate on the other side won’t exactly have an easy go at things, either. Doug Free will be asked to defend Justin Houston, perhaps the premiere young linebacker in all the NFL. The former Bulldog is quick and relentless: two adjectives used also to describe Hali. Last year, the two combined for 19 sacks, 33 QB pressures, and 26 tackles for loss. This, my friends, is the test of our offensive line.
Dez Bryant v. Brandon Flowers and Eric Berry
Say what you want, the Giants secondary shut down Dez Bryant. Now, #88 has a mild foot sprain, and will be lined up against top-flight CB Brandon Flowers. Oh, and if a double-team is in order, it won’t be Ryan Mundy offering help, it’ll be Eric Berry. For you Fantasy footballers, if there was ever a week to sit Dez Bryant, this might be it (though I still wouldn’t advise doing so, as true talent knows no bounds).
Sep 23, 2012; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys cornerback Brandon Carr (39) in pass coverage during the fourth quarter against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Cowboys Stadium. The Cowboys beat the Buccaneers 16-10. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
Brandon Carr v. Dwayne Bowe
Here’s the obvious: Brandon Carr and Dwayne Bowe were teammates for a number of years. They likely battled one-another in practice numerous times, and they’re well aware of each other’s tendencies. This is the more interesting thing: Brandon Carr has a knack for making opposing QBs not want to throw his way; but with the recent departure of Jon Baldwin and the loss of Tony Moeaki to injury during the pre-season, the Chiefs are more thin at receiver than ever. Thus, this match-up may be more attention-grabbing, and crucial than any other.
Ronald Leary v. Dontari Poe
The interior of the o-line does not get off much easier than the outside. While Frederick, Waters/Bernadeau, and Leary will have to deal with the explosive Dontari Poe, it is the latter who draws the most interesting match-up. Ronald Leary and Dontari Poe were teammates at the University of Memphis. Yet again, we have two guys who battled one another each and every day on the practice field. They know each other’s strengths and weaknesses. Each is known to be aggressive, and use their hands particularly well. In the end, it’ll be Tiger against Tiger – who wouldn’t pay to see that?
Jamaal Charles v. The Dallas Cowboys Defense
Sep 8, 2013; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Kansas City Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles (25) runs the ball for a touchdown during the game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at EverBank Field. Mandatory Credit: Melina Vastola-USA TODAY Sports
It really is that general. An explosive back like Charles commands just as much attention from the secondary as he does from the line. The 5’11 Port Arthur, Texas product will look to prey on a unit that typically struggles with agile runners.
In order to keep Charles contained, the Cowboys will likely have to employ speedsters of their own to plug holes and land hits early in each run.
Look for Bruce Carter to lead the way defensively on Sunday, and don’t be surprised to see Barry Church or even J.J. Wilcox charging in for a blitz.