The Chargers’ matchup with the Cowboys this Sunday is the premiere contest on the week two slate. It was getting so much hype that FOX is making it “America’s Game of the Week.”
Without being in primetime, this is as close as it gets. This game will be a nice appetizer ahead of Sunday night’s game between the Chiefs and the Ravens.
Both the Chargers and Cowboys employ dynamic pass-catchers and plenty of other dangerous weapons around their young quarterbacks. If there’s one thing this game should have, it’s plenty of fireworks.
Below are three things I’ll be watching for when the Bolts take the field
1.) How will the Chargers secondary handle the dynamic wide receiver duo of Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb?
In their season opener against the vaunted Buccaneers defense, the Cowboys threw for a league-high 403 yards with 243 of those coming via Cooper and Lamb. Those two also accounted for all three of Prescott’s touchdowns. So it’s safe to say their offense will run through those two unless they attempt to jumpstart the run game with Ezekiel Elliott after completely passing on it against Tampa Bay.
Against Washington, the starting secondary allowed just nine receptions for 96 yards and a touchdown. Michael Davis was the only defensive back to allow more than 15 yards on the day and Derwin James held his assignments to just nine yards on two receptions his way.
This is the game everyone will want to watch in week two and this positional matchup is a big reason why.
2.) Can Joey Bosa take advantage of his matchup with a backup right tackle?
Within 24 hours of the NFL’s season opener, the Cowboys lost right tackle La’el Collins for five weeks due to breaking the league’s substance abuse policy. In his place, the Cowboys will start Terrence Steele, a former undrafted free agent in 2020 who started 14 games as a rookie. Last season, Steele allowed nine sacks and finished with a 49.1 pass block grade, per Pro Football Focus..
Against Washington rookie right tackle Sam Cosmi, Bosa posted his first sack of the season and combined to pressure Ryan Fitzpatrick/Taylor Heinicke four times.
With another young tackle on tap for the Big Bear, I expect we’ll see another dominant performance by him on Sunday.
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones told @1053thefan (and effectively the Chargers) that Terence Steele will start at right tackle Sunday in place of suspended La’el Collins. An early-week disclosure. Steele gets nod in favor of Ty Nsekhe. Zack Martin remaining at right guard.— Michael Gehlken (@GehlkenNFL) September 14, 2021
3.) Chargers offense must capitalize in red zone against a favorable matchup
The Chargers’ first drive of the game was close to flawless as they capped it with a three-yard touchdown run by Austin Ekeler. Unfortunately, the Chargers didn’t score their second touchdown of the day until the under-12 mark of the fourth quarter. Between those touchdown drives, the Bolts reached the red zone another four times. Unfortunately, two led to field goals while the other two ended in turnovers.
I should also mention that on their second trip — one that led to their first field goal of the day — Keenan Allen let an easy third-down conversion slip right through his hands. Should he have made the routine catch, I would have put money down on the Bolts getting inside the end zone once more.
The Cowboys allowed 431 yards and 31 points to Tom Brady and the Bucs. All four of their touchdowns came via pass-catchers. If I’m Allen, Justin Herbert, and the rest of the offense, I’m prepared to have a lot of fun on Sunday.