On Sunday, September 14, your Dallas Cowboys (0-1) are visiting your Tennessee Titans (1-0) in Nashville, TN.
Both teams are coming in with opposite records, and their respective games were definitely one-sided.
Dallas’ loss was highlighted, or should it be low-lighted, by QB Tony Romo’s three, first-half, ill-advised interceptions. An early DeMarco Murray fumble led to a quick 49er defensive touchdown by Chris Culliver. The turnovers continued, and the Cowboys couldn’t make up enough ground.
Tennessee got their win behind their tough, physical 3-4 defense, led by newly acquired strong-safety, Bernard Pollard. Linebacker Derrick Morgan, and the newly-paid d-lineman, Jurrell Casey, wrecked havoc on Kansas City’s o-line, while Jason McCourty and free-safety Michael Griffin patrolled the airways, resulting in three interceptions.
The Cowboys have one of the most talent-laden offenses in the NFL, led by Dez Bryant, Romo, Jason Witten, and Murray. Offensive line has been the focus of improvement with the last two first-round picks being Zack Martin, and Travis Fredrick. Tyron Smith is an athletic freak at the left-tackle position and will be a mainstay for years to come.
The defense in without their leader in Sean Lee, out for the season with an ACL tear. There is no DeMarcus Ware, Anthony Spencer is in shorts and a tee, and Orlando Scandrick is suspended for three more games. This is definitely the weak spot for the Cowboys. Youth at both safety positions, combined with an inconsistent pass rush, can lead to a long day.
The Titans’ ‘O’ is jam packed with fast play-makers. Jake Locker (QB) has a plethora of weapons beginning with RB Dexter McCluster, WRs Kendall Wright and Justin Hunter, and TE Delanie Walker. They used their speed to their advantage by spreading the field with three wide receiver sets and a hurried pace in between plays. It definitely negated KC’s pass rush.
Defensive coordinator, Ray Horton, brings a Pittsburgh Steeler-esque 3-4 attack that is both fast and physical. Jason McCourty is quickly climbing the ladder of uber talented CBs, but can be match up with Dez all game long? Former Longhorn, Michael Griffin, and Bernard Pollard are at the safety spots. The aforementioned Derrick Morgan and Jurrell Casey can be a headache for opposing lines.
The Dallas O vs Tennessee’s Defense is going to be a battle of two heavyweights. Last week, the Cowboys were successful at displacing San Fran’s front line which resulted in 127 yds rushing. Coach Linehan has shown a commitment to the running game, and that cannot change going into week two. Tennessee’s defensive line was rarely pushed backwards against the Chiefs, and they will need a similar performance this week. I will be paying attention to what Jurrell Casey does matched up with a rookie in Martin, and 2nd year center, Fredrick.
The Locker led Titans oft used no huddle, screens, and draws to negate the Kansas City pass rush. You could see the fatigue setting in as the Chiefs barely laid a hand on Locker late in the game. When Jake was able to throw in rhythm, he was accurate and picked apart zones. Yet, when the pocket closed in on him, he got erratic and focused on the rush. He can break the pocket and run for big gains, if need be. McCluster and Wright will be used on a lot a screens and quick passes to take advantage of their YAC abilities. Justin Hunter will be targeted downfield a few times on Sunday.
Dallas already leads the series 7-6 and will go up by 2 by 4:15pm ET on Sunday. The matchup between the Dallas O and Tenn D is just about a draw, but I feel Romo will bounce back from his disgusting performance in week one and make more plays than the Titans do.
The opposite matchup of Locker and Co. vs Carr and his Crew I will give a slight nod to the Titans. They will welcome their home crowd with confidence after their big win, and will want to match that performance.
Special teams often goes unnoticed, but I think DeWayne Harris can provide the dagger by breaking a big return, more specifically a punt return. Too many times the Titans’ gunners were being held up by their opponents and the return man had plenty of space to get the return started.
Dallas wins 24-17