Face-off: Cowboys vs. Chargers

Face-off: Cowboys vs. Chargers

Credit: Getty Images

Jason Hatcher #97 of the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium on September 22, 2013 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

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by EDDIE MIDDLEBROOK

WFAA Sports

Posted on September 27, 2013 at 7:15 AM

Updated Sunday, Sep 29 at 11:29 AM

DALLAS vs. SAN DIEGO

Kickoff: 3:25 p.m., Qualcomm Stadium

TV: 3:25 p.m., FOX

Radio: Noon, 105.3 FM

Records: Dallas 2-1, San Diego 1-2

Series: Dallas leads, 6-3

Last meeting: San Diego, 20-17 (2009, in Dallas)

Betting line: Dallas -2, over/under 47

Weather: 78 degrees, 0% chance of rain

In many ways it will feel like a home game for Dallas as they visit beautiful San Diego this Sunday. The Cowboys are 4-1 at Qualcomm Stadium and always have plenty of fans in attendance. After the Chargers were on the road the last two weeks, Philip Rivers’ temper tantrums will be a welcome sight for the fair-weather fans in San Diego this Sunday. Let’s see how these two teams matchup:

Dallas offense vs. San Diego defense

Last week, the Cowboys’ offense ran on all cylinders, as the running game was nearly perfect against a Rams front seven that had been stout through the first two games of the season. DeMarco Murray was able to run for his second-best total of his career (175 yards), which places him fourth in the NFL in rushing. With the running game intact, Romo was allowed to pass when needed and he was efficient going 17 of 24 with 210 yards and three touchdowns. How important is the running game for Romo? According to ESPN’s Jean-Jacques Taylor, the Cowboys are 21-4 and have won nine straight when Romo attempts 30 passes or less. The offensive line, with Brian Waters getting more reps seems to be hitting its stride, and should handle this below average defense of San Diego. The Chargers are last in the league against the pass as they give up more than 340 yards per game. Also, they don’t fare much better against the run, as they are 28th in the league (130 yards per game). If the Cowboys have to go without Miles Austin, they still should move the ball with ease this Sunday. If the Titans’ Jake Locker can throw for 299 yards against the Chargers, imagine what Romo could do.

Edge: DALLAS

Dallas defense vs. San Diego offense

Philip Rivers is quietly having a strong start to the early season, as he is the second-rated passer (116.2), behind league-leading Peyton Manning (134.7). Rivers has thrown for nearly 800 yards, eight touchdowns and only one interception through the first three games. His top target this season is his long-time tight end Antonio Gates (15 receptions for 228 yards), but it’s Eddie Royal who has become his favorite receiver in the endzone. Royal’s five touchdowns through the first three games has already tied his career high he set back in his rookie season with the Denver Broncos (2008). The Chargers’ running game has been mediocre much like the Cowboys, but they do feature well-known names in Ryan Matthews, Danny Woodhead and Ronnie Brown. San Diego’s offense will have to go against a Dallas defense that is flying high after a dominating performance against the Rams in Week 3. After not being sacked through the first two games, Rams’ QB Sam Bradford was sacked six times last Sunday, and he was only able to average five yards per pass attempt. As a team, St. Louis was held to less than 200 yards on the day. The Cowboys have been strong against the running game as they are giving up 66 yards per contest which ranks second in the NFL. Hopefully, last Sunday wasn’t an aberration for a Dallas pass defense that ranks 22nd by allowing more than 274 yards per game.     

Edge: DALLAS

Key matchup

Philip Rivers vs. Dallas defensive line: With the news coming out this week that Anthony Spencer will be out for the season, it will be pivotal for players like George Selvie and sudden team leader Jason Hatcher to anchor the Cowboys defensive line. These two have combined for five sacks through three games (same number of times Rivers has been sacked). Through three games, Rivers has played like an elite QB and if given time, he will make the Cowboys secondary pay.  

Edge: SAN DIEGO

Special teams

Dwayne Harris lost a fumble last week that thankfully didn’t cost the Cowboys any points and Dan Bailey missed a field goal from less than 40 yards. The Chargers’ Fozzy Whittaker is averaging 26 yards per kickoff return while Nick Novak is five of six on field goals.   

Edge: EVEN

Cost of Living

Let’s face it; San Diego is beautiful, safe and has perfect weather, but all these things come at a steep price. According to payscale.com, the cost of living in San Diego is around 30% higher than the national average. The greatest contributor to this difference in the cost of living is the cost of housing, which is around 100% greater than the national average. Meanwhile, Dallas’ cost of living is only 5.7% above the national average ranking it 13th on Forbes’ Best Places for Business and Careers (Fort Worth/Arlington ranked #15) list. San Diego ranks 78th.

Edge: DALLAS

Intangibles

The Cowboys are looking to start a winning streak (!) for the first time this season after playing a complete game against the Rams in Week 3. The crowd should be filled with silver and blue on a near-perfect day for a football game.     

Edge: DALLAS

Prediction: Dallas 27, San Diego 21

Eddie Middlebrook is the co-host of “Chin Music” and VP of Media for ShutDowninning. He can be reached at Eddie.Middlebrook@ShutDowninning.com or on Twitter @emiddlebrook                

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