Cowboys Keys to Victory Against Los Angeles Chargers

Callena Williams | Dallas Cowboys

The Dallas Cowboys will travel to sunny Southern California to try and get their first win of the season against the Los Angeles Chargers. Recent history hasn’t been kind to the Cowboys, who have lost four of the last five contests, but this will be the first meeting between the teams since 2017. Only a handful of players on either team were on the field for the Chargers 28-6 Thanksgiving Day victory.

It was Dak Prescott’s first season under center as the starting quarterback after the surprise retirement of quarterback Tony Romo in April. Prescott gave up two interceptions in the fourth quarter, including one that went 90 yards the opposite direction while former NFL quarterback Phillip Rivers torched Dallas for three touchdown passes and 434 yards through the air. Rivers is now a high school head coach in Alabama.

This Sunday, at least a few familiar faces will be staring at Prescott. The Chargers star defensive end Joey Bosa, whose mere presence on the field is enough to make many QBs hustle throws, will again be looking for opportunities for strip-sacks and fumble recoveries just as he was in 2017. Facing one of the better offensive lines in the NFL, Bosa had three tackles, one assist, and a sack against the Washington Football Team. His sack of QB Ryan Fitzpatrick resulted in a fumble that stalled the Football Team’s drive. The Chargers rank as the #1 pass defense after Week 1.

The Cowboys will rely on a mixture of players to slow down Bosa and the Chargers revamped defensive line under new head coach Brandon Staley. The Dallas offensive line has been in flux this week as players return from the Injured/Covid-19 list while at least one starter will be unavailable due to an NFL suspension for violating the substances of abuse policy. La’el Collins’ suspension means that Terrence Steele will move into the starting right tackle spot.

The big question for the Cowboys will be the performance of All-Pro and All-Star right guard Zack Martin who will be suiting up for the first time since suffering a calf injury in 2020 that effectively ended his season. Martin was placed on the Covid-19 list ahead of the season opener and did not play in the preseason this year.

Cowboys coaches, for better or worse, essentially abandoned the run game against Tampa Bay last week in an effort to stay in the game against the potent offensive attack led by Tom Brady. The Chargers gave up 126 rushing yards to Washington last week, a sign that Ezekial Elliott may have a break-out day. Elliott was suspended for six games when the Cowboys and Chargers met in 2017.

The Cowboys signaled a lack of faith in their special teams players this week by signing kicker Lirim Hajrullahu to the practice squad following a sloppy performance by starter Greg Zuerlein who is working to get back into football shape following offseason back surgery. Zuerlein missed two field goals and an extra point against Tampa Bay. Should the game come down to a narrow margin like last week against Tampa Bay, Zuerlein will face tremendous pressure to be perfect.

The Cowboys made an early season statement by keeping a game against Tampa Bay close last week but will need at least as good of a performance against Los Angeles to get a win. The Chargers offense has the ability to open up big leads with the strong arm strength of second-year QB Justin Herbert and a running game led by Austin Ekler that picked up 90 yards against one of the league’s best run defenses.

The Cowboys defense will need to be on-point to contain explosive wide receivers Keenan Allen and Mike Williams while also accounting for former Cowboy Jaylen Guyten. Herbert averaged 10.8 yards per completion last week on 31 completions and 337 passing yards. Dallas will need to tighten up in the secondary. After one game, the Cowboys are nearly at the bottom of the NFL, falling into the #30 slot after allowing Brady to compile 379 yards through the air last game.

Kickoff will be at 1:25 PDT at SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles. It will be the home opener for the Chargers who continue to try and draw in fans in one of football’s toughest markets.

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