Posted on November 1, 2017, by Travis Pulver
The Kansas City Chiefs burst onto the scene this season with a shocking and dominant win over the New England Patriots to start the season. They’ve been a good team in recent years, but not one that can win when they need to the most. Winning a season opener isn’t exactly groundbreaking, but beating the Patriots is the kind of thing that opens eyes.
For Dallas, the season began with a mix of expectations and trepidation. After going 13-3 last season with a rookie quarterback at the helm, the masses expected them to do something similar in 2017. They have the offense to get the job done; one that was good enough to cover for their defensive deficiencies.
Then the worst thing that could happen happened. Ezekiel Elliot lost his case with the NFL and was suspended six games under the league’s domestic violence policy. The legal process allowed him to become eligible for the first seven games of the season.
But the process has caught up with him, and this week his suspension goes into effect.
So, minus a very important piece of the puzzle, the Cowboys will take on the hottest team in the AFC this season, the Kansas City Chiefs.
But, to be fair, after a red-hot 5-0 start, the Chiefs slipped and lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers and Oakland Raiders. They got back on the right side of the scoreboard with a win against the Denver Broncos last week. But the Broncos are not exactly a competitive team this season.
The Raiders and Steeler have had some serious issues this season as well.
So—who’s going to win?
Kansas City will look to do the same thing they have done in every game this season. They will make use of Alex Smith’s new-found deep ball game, get the ball into Tyreek Hill’s hands when they can, and try to establish Kareem Hunt in the running game.
The Dallas defense is not as bad as it was expected to be. But while the makeup of the unit is much different than it was last year, it still responds in much the same way. When they can get opposing offenses off the field quickly, they do well. Otherwise, they struggle.
Once they start to struggle, as they did against the Broncos and Rams, they are in trouble.
It is not hard to imagine the Chiefs offense having some success. But Kansas City’s problem may be getting the Dallas offense off the field.
Kansas City’s defense is not playing well. They are giving up 131.1 yards/game on the ground (29th) and 261 yards/game through the air (30th). But they are doing a little better when it comes to giving up points (22.5 points/game; 19th).
The defense played well enough against the Patriots, Eagles, Chargers, and Redskins. But it struggled to contain the Texans offense, gave up 400+ yards in the loss to Pittsburgh, and over 500 to the Raiders. They beat the Broncos with the help of five turnovers. But Denver still outgained them 364 to 276 and had almost half of that on the ground (177).
Even without Elliot in the backfield, the Cowboys will be able to run the ball. As soon as the Chiefs try to stack the box, Dak Prescott will find Dez Bryant, Brice Butler, or Terrance Williams downfield for a big gain.
The Chiefs were winning when they could keep the opposing offense off the field because their offense was on it. But Kareem Hunt has struggled to find open lanes the last three weeks. He will not find it easy against the Cowboys either. Without a running game, the Chiefs will not be able to control the clock.
The Dallas secondary is getting better, but it still isn’t good. Alex Smith will be able to connect with Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill when he has time. They’ll get some points on the board via the passing game. But as soon as the Dallas front gets Kareem Hunt derailed, his time will disappear.
Kansas City is a one-point favorite. Take the point and the Cowboys.