Coming off a not-perfect-but-still-dominating 19-3 over the New York Giants, the Dallas Cowboys will travel to Colorado to face the Denver Broncos.
Both teams are flying high after season-opening victories and this game features a ton of exciting matchups. With that in mind, let’s take a look at a few things to keep an eye on Sunday in Denver.
Can Cowboys OL get the better of Broncos front seven?
The main event of the festivities Sunday will commence when the Dallas offensive line locks horns with the Denver front seven.
The Denver front seven is led by sack master Von Miller, who will be pitted against right tackle La’el Collins for the majority of the game. Collins passed his first test against the Giants, but Miller is a totally different level. Not only is Miller an athletic freak with an out-of-this-world get off, but he has some refine hand technique as well. Collins has to be patient and powerful in the run and pass game throughout the game.
Derek Wolfe is another big-time player in the Broncos front seven who Dallas will have to worry about. Inside linebacker Brandon Marshall is a veteran presence in the middle of the field who is a magnet to the ball. Shaquil Barrett is filling in for the injured Shane Ray, but make no mistake, Barrett rushed the quarterback better than a number of starters in the NFL.
Unfortunately for Barrett, he will find a difficult time to develop a rhythm against perennial All-Pro Tyron Smith, as Olivier Vernon found out last week. Smith is among the best at his craft, and Dallas has to believe that it will have a giant edge of whoever (sans Von Miller) lines up across from him.
Dallas’ interior line (Zack Martin, Travis Frederick and Chaz Green) draws a much easier assignment this week as Domata Peko doesn’t disrupt opposing offenses nearly as well as the Giants’ Damon Harrison. Expect Dallas to really target Peko in the run game, trusting Frederick and the guards to create movement and running lanes.
Was Week 1 a fluke for the Cowboys defense?
Even with Odell Beckham Jr. out last week, no one expected the Cowboys defense to surrender just three points. Dallas was led by dominant performances from Sean Lee, Anthony Brown and DeMarcus Lawrence as they stifled the New York offense for the entirety of the game. Will they be able to have duplicate performances against Denver?
The Dallas defense hopes to get a similar effort from its pass rush this week as it did last week. Lawrence will have a favorable matchup against Menelik Watson, so he may be primed for another disruptive game. Brown will try to carry his momentum from last week as he is pitted against Demaryius Thomas, Emmanual Sanders and company. Expect Lee to have a similarly dominant performance against the Broncos, as his skill set matches up well with the current construction of the Denver offense.
If the Cowboys defense wants to put together a second consecutive impressive performance, they will need Lee, Brown and Lawrence to put together superb performances once again.
Will Dez Bryant do Dez Bryant things?
The one thing missing from the Cowboys win over the Giants was the big ‘Dez Bryant’ play, but it wasn’t without trying. Dak Prescott targeted Bryant nine time, but the star receiver only finished with two catches for 45 yards.
The Cowboys signed Bryant to a five-year, $70-million contract in 2015 to be one of the most dominant WRs in the league. However, because of injuries and other factors, he has been anything but that since.
The season-opener was his opportunity to show that he was healthy and once against one of the best receivers in the NFL, but he failed to prove that. He was taken out of his game by Janoris Jenkins once again, leading many to wonder whether Bryant’s days as an alpha receiver in the NFL are over.
This week, Bryant will face an even tough task as he will face a Broncos secondary featuring two of the best cornerbacks in the NFL — Aqib Talib and Chris Harris Jr. Both present different problems for Bryant, and he will have to be on his game to be productive against either.
The Cowboys paid Bryant to be an elite WR, he needs to be effective against the top CBs like an elite WR would.
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