Wednesday, October 07, 2009

ESPN Scouts: Cowboys-Chiefs: 10 observations

By Matt Williamson
Scouts Inc.

Dallas at Kansas City

When: 1:00 PM ET
Watch: FOX

More scouting reports: Week 5

Scouts Inc. Position Advantage

After breaking down film of both teams, Scouts Inc. offers 10 things to watch in this week's Cowboys-Chiefs matchup.

1. Stick with their rushing attack: The Cowboys have transformed into a running offense. Marion Barber and Felix Jones are battling injuries, but could play. Tashard Choice is a no-nonsense runner who doesn't leave yardage on the field and consistently falls forward when he is brought to the ground. It is hard to predict who will get the bulk of the rushing load, but any combination of these runners should do just fine.

2. Get to the quarterback: In Dallas' first two games, they did not record a sack despite leading the NFL in that department in 2008 with much of the same personnel. DeMarcus Ware has amazingly not registered a sack this season. Dallas needs to get more out of Anthony Spencer to take some of the pressure off Ware, but relative unknown Victor Butler is showing promise as a rusher off the edge. Chiefs QB Matt Cassel is playing with little confidence and pressuring him should only further complicate matters.

3. Limit the penalties and turnovers: Not only is Kansas City overmatched on paper and in individual matchups against the Cowboys, but they are also in a painful process of learning a new system on each side of the ball. In turn, they are a mess. Even on the road, Dallas just needs to play their game.

4. Get Roy Williams heavily involved: Williams has not lived up to expectations as a Cowboy, but his talent is undeniable and with the emphasis that Dallas places on running the ball and the added distraction on Jason Witten, Williams should see plenty of favorable matchups in Kansas City.

5. Matchup to watch: Kansas City C Rudy Niswanger vs. Dallas NT Jay Ratliff: When Ratliff lines up on the outside shoulder of the center, very few pivot men can contain his initial upfield surge because he is so quick off the ball. Getting Ratliff blocked in pass protection -- and for Kansas City's interior run game to get going -- will have to take a combination of Niswanger and help from a guard. Ratliff also can be dangerous on stunts and slants.

6. Force Tony Romo into bad decisions: Romo can run hot and cold. When things are not going well for Romo, he can force passes that should not be attempted. Kansas City has to do everything possible to make sure they can put Romo into that hurried mindset. It should be noted that if Barber is limited in this contest, Dallas' pass protection suffers a great deal, particularly with their blitz pickup.

7. Spread the ball around: Wide receivers in general are having a lot of success against the Cowboys, but Dwayne Bowe doesn't look like himself and the Chiefs are lacking in perimeter threats. Meanwhile, Kansas City has been awful on third downs, so utilizing a variety of weapons may help them to stay on the field and give the defense somewhat of a break.

8. Double team Ware: Branden Albert will usually draw the assignment of trying to slow down Ware. While Albert is a talented young offensive lineman, Ware has a massive advantage in this matchup. The Chiefs will have to help Albert.

9. Key on Witten: Witten is the best tight end in the game today. He is often Dallas' primary hot receiver against the blitz, is incredibly sure-handed and offers great reliability. Romo leans on him and everyone knows it.

10. Matchup to watch: Bowe vs. Dallas CB Terence Newman: On Monday Night in Week 3, Newman lined up predominantly on Steve Smith. Much like the situation in Carolina, Kansas City only has one true threatening weapon on the outside in Bowe. Newman consistently got help over the top from Ken Hamlin. Expect Dallas to employ the same tactics this week with their best cover man.


Dallas 24
Kansas City 10