Looking Ahead: Dallas Cowboys vs. San Diego Chargers


Though the two teams played in 2012, 2011 and 2010, this marks the first regular season action between the two teams since 2009. The Cowboys lost in December. Go figure. Still, the 2009 iterations (obviously) don’t share all that much with this year’s. Also, you might remember that as the game we all collectively freaked out when DeMarcus Ware went on the stretcher with a neck issue. He was back the next week.

San Diego Chargers Offense:

The Chargers currently sit in the top third of teams in points per game (9th, with 26) and close to that (11th) in yards per game (356.7).

Particularly in the last two years, Philip Rivers has struggled with interceptions. He had 20 in 2011 and 15 in 2012. This year, however, he appears to have cut down on those. Three games in, he only has one. I live on the east coast, and have seen him only once, against the Eagles. In that game (his best by far) he seemed smart and made intelligent decisions. Other than that, he has been more cautious with the ball than he was last year. Excluding the Eagles outing, he has been averaging 7.15 yards per attempt. In previous seasons, that number was closer to 8 or 9.

August 18, 2012; San Diego, CA, USA; Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo (9) and San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers (17) after the preseason game at Qualcomm Stadium. The Chargers won 28-20. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

His offensive line has been better too. Though a rather statuesque quarterback, his offensive line was even worse than ours was. He was sacked 49 times, second most behind Aaron Rodgers. This year, he’s only been sacked 5 times. The injury report doesn’t come out until this afternoon, so it won’t make the print date. Still, three starters went down or did not start last game. D.J. Fluker still retained concussion symptoms, King Dunlap and Chad Rinehart both had to leave the game. Dunlap shared Fluker’s diagnosis, while Rinehart injured his toe. News on whether or not they will play, again, isn’t available as I write this. Still, in a ground breaking piece of analysis, I’m going to conclude that backups playing could significantly swing the outcome of the game.

Malcom Floyd has already been ruled out. He has a neck injury. His return to the field is “unknown.” He had been producing well before the injury, at least in his second game. Until DeMeco Ryans injured him (and was subsequently fined 21,000 dollars), Floyd had already produced over 100 yards on only five catches. Not having their number one receiver is a real problem, but others have picked up the pace. Until hitting something of a wall against Tennessee, Eddie Royal had been on fire, having caught 5 touchdown passes in 2 games. With Philip Rivers’ low yardage total in games one and three, many of the receivers haven’t posted particularly high yardage totals. Which makes Antonio Gates’ performance relatively more impressive. While not setting the world on fire, Gates’ 55 yards last week look more important when accounting for the fact that he accounted for more than 25% of the offene’s passing yards.

On the rushing side, they are decidedly less impressive. Neither Ryan Matthews, Ronnie Brown nor Danny Woodhead has lit the world on fire. Rushing likely shouldn’t be a problem for Monte Kiffin’s defense.
San Diego Charger’s Defense

On this side, Eric Weddle has stood out. Statistically, no one else really has. The team as a whole has 6 sacks on the season, but it’s

Aug 18, 2012; San Diego, CA, USA; Dallas Cowboys receiver Kevin Ogletree (85) is defended by San Diego Chargers cornerback Quentin Jammer (23) and safety Eric Weddle (32) on a 35-yard reception in the second quarter at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-USA TODAY Sports

almost evenly distributed. No one has more than one. They have only picked off one pass. It appears that they have a “bend and don’t break” type defense. I don’t get to watch them that much, so I can’t really say much about them, as disappointing as that is to admit. They did give up 28 and 30 points to Houston and Philadelphia, respectively. I’m assuming the Cowboys will score somewhere in that vicinity.

Prediction: Cowboys win 27-20