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NFL Preview - Dallas (1-0) at Kansas City (1-0)
By Shawn Clarke, Contributing NFL Editor
(Sports Network) - For more than a decade the Dallas Cowboys had to stare across the field twice a year at Andy Reid.
The former head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles will man that same position Sunday, only this time he will be donning the colors of the Kansas City Chiefs in a showdown at Arrowhead Stadium.
Reid will make his K.C. debut and was a nine-time playoff participant and one- time Super Bowl runner-up in 14 seasons with the Eagles, but was let go after the Eagles foundered to a 4-12 finish in 2012. His Eagle teams gave Dallas fits at times and now he has the keys to a new ride.
Kansas City won Reid's debut with Sunday's 28-2 drubbing of the lowly Jacksonville Jaguars and the win also marked quarterback Alex Smith's first game under center since being traded from San Francisco in the offseason. The always-efficient Smith threw a pair of touchdown passes in the first quarter and finished 21-of-34 for 173 yards. Smith spread the ball around to nine different receivers, which is what Reid likes to see from his offense.
"I think the more guys you can utilize, the more pressure it puts on a defense. If you have to cover everybody, you can't favor one guy and that's always been part of this offense," Reid said. "Move it around and give everybody an opportunity."
Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles is usually active in the passing game, a situation Reid enjoys putting his running backs in. Reid had Brian Westbrook and LeSean McCoy at his disposal in Philadelphia and walked into an opportunity with Charles, who caught three passes for a mere 23 yards and ran for 77 yards and a score on 16 carries for a Chiefs team that went 2-14 last season, tied with Jacksonville for the worst mark in the NFL.
Charles is expected to be a key piece to Reid's West Coast offense and suffered a quad bruise against the Jags. Charles' leg was stepped on and he isn't expected to miss any time, as players around the league often suffer nicks and bruises on a weekly basis.
"Jamaal has a quad contusion. He does have a range of motion, but we'll just see how he does here, over this week," Reid said during Monday's press conference. "He is moving around today, he's ok."
Knile Davis and Cyrus Gray got some playing time when Charles needed a blow.
"We mixed it up a bit. You saw Knile in there; he was in for a few snaps," Reid said. "We're using Cyrus in some third-down situations. We're trying to use all of them the best we could, so that's what we did."
Reid noted how Jacksonville was prepared for Kansas City's ground attack by loading the box and said necessary changes would be made if needed.
Meanwhile, Dallas was able to top the NFC East-rival New York Giants, 36-31, in Sunday night's primetime showdown in Big D. The Cowboys scored 24 points off six New York turnovers and won its season opener for a second straight year.
"Obviously, turnovers were the story of the game," Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett said. "We took it away from them six times and it's been a huge point of emphasis for us from minute one. It's a great feeling as a coaching staff when your players are able to take that emphasis from the practice field into the ballgame to start the season."
Cowboys safety Barry Church had a 27-yard fumble return for a touchdown and defensive back Brandon Carr picked off a Manning pass, returning it 49 yards to the end zone. Manning was sacked three times, but still found a way to throw four TD passes and complete 27-of-42 attempts for 450 yards.
Defending the pass didn't come easy for the Cowboys last season and so far the unit needs work after just one game. Three Giants receivers had 100-plus yards and combined for 333. Victor Cruz led the trio with three touchdown catches. Carr, Will Allen and DeMarcus Ware all had interceptions for a Dallas defense that registered six passes defensed.
Allen said alignments and lack of attention to detail hurt Dallas' defensive backfield. He was just happy for the win and the focus will now shift to the Chiefs.
"That's just one win under our belt," Allen said. "We've got Kansas City now. That's the mentality. It's over with. The six turnovers are over with. We've got to do it again."
For how poorly the Cowboys were in pass coverage, they managed to keep the Giants' running game grounded. David Wilson lost two fumbles and was even benched by head coach Tom Coughlin. Wilson is a dangerous runner in space, but was a non-factor Sunday night. Things could be a bit different with Charles this week.
Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo and wide receiver Dez Bryant enter Arrowhead Stadium nicked up. Romo is dealing with bruised ribs and Bryant has a foot sprain. Both players underwent MRIs and results were negative. Expect Romo and Bryant to be in uniform Sunday.
The Cowboys lead the all-time series with Kansas City, 6-3, and have prevailed in four of the past five meetings. The last time Dallas and Kansas City met was on Oct. 11, 2009 in a 26-20 overtime win for the Cowboys, who are 2-2 as the visitor in this matchup. Miles Austin had career day in his first NFL start, catching 10 passes for 250 yards and two touchdowns, including the game-winning, 60-yard TD catch in overtime.
The Chiefs began life as the Dallas Texans and spent three years (1960-62) in the city before moving to the Show-Me State. Kansas City last started 2-0 back in 2010, when it won its first three games out of the chute. Dallas' last 2-0 start was a three-game winning streak to kick off 2008.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
The Chiefs' defense looked sharp on Sunday and held the Jaguars to 178 total yards. Granted the Chiefs were playing Jacksonville, it was still impressive for a Week 1 performance since the starters don't play four quarters in the preseason. Injuries usually rear their heads early on as players get adjusted and Kansas City was able to squeeze by unscathed.
Kansas City picked off Jaguars quarterback Blaine Gabbert twice and recorded six sacks on the afternoon, three of which from linebacker Justin Houston, who has eight sacks in eight career games against teams from the NFC. Linebacker Tamba Hali returned an INT 10 yards for a touchdown in the fourth quarter for the final margin.
"I thought defensively, the defense came out and played very good football. You take those first 13 drives and anytime you can hold a team to 70 yards total offense, is an achievement," Reid said. "You know pressuring the quarterback is a big thing in the National Football League, really able to do that and accumulating six sacks is a big thing."
Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew was held to 45 yards on 15 carries. In games where Jones-Drew recorded at least 15 carries, that is the second-lowest rushing total of his career. The Chiefs are facing a true test Sunday and perhaps Reid's familiarity with the Cowboys will pay off. Last week's win boosted the confidence factor for the Chiefs.
"It gives us momentum going into next week," Chiefs wide receiver Junior Hemingway said. "There are some things we need to work on as a team, but getting this win raises the morale for us. It will help us tremendously, going into next week. We have to come out (Sunday) and play good football."
The Cowboys will serve as a major test for the Chiefs and dropped 36 points on a talented New York squad. The six turnovers obviously helped and teams have to take advantage of those opportunities.
Dallas put the ball into Romo's hands quite often and he attempted 49 passes, completing 36 of them for 262 yards and two TDs with an interception. His bruised ribs shouldn't be a factor in K.C. and Bryant's balky foot is not expected to keep him from playing. The Cowboys have Austin and tight end Jason Witten to torment the Chiefs with as well, while running back DeMarco Murray fared better in Week 1 than Jones-Drew with 86 yards on 20 carries.
Austin hopes to have another big game at Arrowhead, where he scorched the Chiefs a few years ago with 250 yards receiving, breaking Bob Hayes' single- game record for the franchise. Garrett was the offensive coordinator then and remembers the game quite well.
"It really was one of the best days I have been around in football ... both as a player and as a coach," Garrett said. "Miles Austin comes from Monmouth University as an undrafted free agent. He has an unbelievable way about him as a person and the approach that he takes as a football player. When a guy like that who comes from where he comes from and goes about it the way he does has that kind of success when he gets his opportunity ... to this day I still kind of feel the thing down the back of my neck.
"It's what this thing is all about. He goes about it the right way. He's a pleasure to coach. It was a great day for him. It was a great day for our team."
Romo has had some great days against teams from the AFC. He has won three straight and five of his last six games against AFC foes, and passed for 351 yards with two touchdowns passes in his last game against Kansas City. Kansas City's front line isn't as intimidating as New York's, but its linebackers can make a difference. Hali, Houston and Derrick Johnson are very productive for the Chiefs and hope to disrupt Dallas' offensive scheme. Romo was sacked twice in Sunday's win over the G-men.
Cowboys newcomer and veteran guard Brian Waters could see action Sunday. He did not play versus the Giants.
Smith was sacked just once in the win over the Jaguars and now has to face a Cowboys defense led by Ware, who can change the outcome of a game on any given down and will try to pressure Chiefs rookie tackle Eric Fisher. Fisher was pleased with his performance in Week 1 and understands how vital watching film and studying your opponent is.
"Film study is always great," Fisher said Sunday. "It makes you so much better of a player. You learn so much, so the more studying you can get in, the better and I'm looking forward to getting in there and learning more."
Playing against the Jaguars has zero comparison to what Fisher will experience Sunday versus the Cowboys because they're a team that's ready to win right now. Can Fisher hold his own? Sure, but not for 60 minutes. And neither will Kansas City's defense. Expect another high-scoring game for a Cowboys squad looking to go 2-0 on the season.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Cowboys 27, Chiefs 16
09/12 12:36:42 ET
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