Morning Cup of Joe: Cash in on 'burst of adrenaline'
On the morning of each Cowboys game, you'll get a chance to take a sip of Joe's gridiron insights with our 'Morning Cup of Joe.' He'll offer five storylines to follow when the Cowboys take the field and his thoughts on what to expect.
1.Cash in on the 'burst of adrenaline'
Cowboys running back Zeke Elliott says he felt a "burst of adrenaline" when he walked into the locker room Friday, returning to the Star after his 6-game suspension was put on hold again.
With no idea how long he'll play the Cowboys must maximize Elliott's impact on the game while he's still around. The last four weeks, Elliott has averaged 125-yards per game and looks as though he's returned to his dominant form.
This game will put a premium on Elliott and the offense controlling the clock with a dominant run game against Kansas City's defense that struggles (4th worst in the league) against the run. Leaning heavily on Elliott to play keep away from KC's high-octane offense would be ideal.
2.Red zone reboot
The Cowboys red zone efficiency got lost somewhere in the rain and muck at FedEx field, converting on just 2-of-5 red zone chances against Washington.
The rain was certainly a factor, but Dak Prescott must get back on track, after cashing in on 14-of-15 red-zone trips before the Washington game. The Cowboys have to have it against this week to hold serve against Kansas City. Look for the Cowboys to employ the zone read close to the goal line with Prescott keeping it to put pressure on the defense.
3.With a step up in class defense must pass the test
The last two games the Cowboys defense has been stellar in two key areas - creating pressure and forces turnovers.
9 sacks and 6 turnovers in two games is as good as it gets for this defensive unit, but the Chiefs are a huge major up in class from the likes of Washington and San Francisco. Quarterback Alex Smith has still yet to throw an interception in 259 attempts so far this season.
If Cowboys defensive end Demarcus Lawrence gets one sack, he'll become just the fourth player in NFL history to record a sack in each of his team's first eight games in a season. The Chiefs can attach you in so many different ways and keep opposing defenses off balance, so this is a tough order. This is Lawrence's chance to shine on a national stage, and with what we've seen this season, there's no reason to think he won't be up to the task. He'll need help, though.
4.Marquee matchup: Jones vs Kelce
Cowboys safety going up against Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce will be one of this game's marquee matchups.
Kelce is one of the top tight end targets in the NFL, and already has 44 catches this season, including four touchdowns, and he's on pace to eclipse the thousand-yard rushing mark. He'll run down the seam and hit chunk plays in a heartbeat and it's up to Jones to slow him down.
Jone was an absolute beast in training camp this year and we expected he'd make more plays on the ball and get more interceptions. Perhaps Jones' game-clinching pick-6 against Washington can spur him. He'll certainly get chances to make plays with Kelce being a key cog in the Chiefs offense.
5.Switzer needs to step up
Receiver and return man Ryan Switzer had a tough game judging punts against Washington. He struggled with the conditions and there were a pair of punts he didn't read well let them bounce when he shouldn't have.
The thing that first struck me after meeting Switzer was his confidence when he first arrived at the Star. He needs to regain some of that swag because a big play in the kicking game can go a long way against a team like Kansas City.