coleryan Posts:21705 Followers:24
On 09/24/2013 05:26 PM in NFL

Dallas Cowboys at San Diego Chargers: Preview and Pick

Dallas Cowboys at San Diego Chargers: Preview and Pick

In week four of the NFL schedule, two teams will be tested and the league will find out which team is for real. The Dallas Cowboys are off a huge win over the St. Louis Rams, but after a tough road loss to the Kansas City Chiefs they need to prove they can away from Big D and Jerry World. The San Diego Chargers have played well but have to finish a game and they will get another chance against the Cowboys this week.

Dallas Cowboys at San Diego Chargers Odds

The NFL betting line for this game opened up with the Cowboys as (-2.5) point favorites as the Cowboys are a very popular team. To further back that idea, over 70 percent of the betting public is on the Cowboys although they lost a game on the road already. Despite the public money backing the boys this line has now dropped and can be found at (-2) at several of the top rated online sportsbooks.

San Diego led most of the game against the Tennessee Titans despite being banged up with three starters out because of injuries, a fourth very limited and a fifth lost to an injured foot in the first half. However like they have in the past they lost the game in the waning seconds. It could be argued that the Chargers could be 3-0 at this point if they held on to the lead.

The Cowboys cruised against the Rams. The Cowboys called runs on 34 of their 59 offensive plays (57.6%), their highest rate in a game since Week 13 of 2010 against the Colts (59.7%). However much of that can be because the Cowboys had a big lead early in the game and DeMarco Murray was running wild. They will have to be balanced in this game if they hope to beat the Bolts.

The latest NFL betting trends show that the Dallas Cowboys could be in a tough spot in this game. The Cowboys are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games after allowing less than 250 total yards in their previous game, 2-7 ATS in their last 9 games after allowing less than 90 yards rushing in their previous game and just 5-14 against the spread (ATS) after a straight up win. The Chargers are 4-0 ATS in their last 4 games following a loss, 3-0-1 ATS in their last 4 games in September and 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games in Week four.

Dallas Cowboys at San Diego Chargers Pick

With plenty of time to go before the start of the regular season, I will wait to release my pick on this game until we get closer to game day.

coleryan Posts:21705 Followers:24
09/25/2013 03:00 PM

Since defensive end Anthony Spencer is going to have season-ending knee surgery, some will look at it like he was paid $10.6 million for 34 plays this season.

It’s easy to second-guess signing Spencer to the franchise tag for a second consecutive season, but Dallas Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones said Wednesday that he just views it as part of the business.

“I really look at it as, that goes with it,” Jones said. “That’s the life we’ve chosen. I don’t in any way, second-guess the commitment we made to him because of the caliber of player he was. We certainly would like to have those dollars, but I’d rather have Spencer. I can’t look at the obvious any time something doesn’t work out.

“I can tell you, if anybody was going to get the money under these circumstances, I’m glad it’s him. He’s worked hard. He’s that quality of an individual and that quality of player.”

Coming off his first Pro Bowl season, Spencer wanted to sign a long-term deal with the Cowboys but the two sides couldn’t work out an agreement.

Does Jones feel fortunate that he didn’t sign Spencer to a long-term contract?

“Once we made the commitment, I spent no time [looking back] because that don’t do you any good right there,” Jones said. “We knew what we were doing when we [gave him the franchise tag]. You got to assume that he did what was good for Anthony, and I think that he did. He had his logic and it was good logic. We did what we should’ve done in my mind with the Cowboys. We wanted him on the team.”

Spencer missed all of training camp and was inactive for the season opener as he recovered from a July 25 arthroscopic left knee surgery.

The 29-year-old played 34 snaps against the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 2 but couldn’t overcome soreness in the knee the following week and was inactive Sunday against the St. Louis Rams.

Jones said Spencer had “clearance form everybody” to play against the Chiefs in Week 2.

“He was certainly ready to go,” Jones said, “relative to what ultimately he needs this surgery for.”

In terms of Spencer’s NFL future, he is a free agent at the end of the season.

coleryan Posts:21705 Followers:24
09/25/2013 03:03 PM

It has been a Jekyll and Hyde season for the Dallas Cowboys, who looked dominant in the first and third games, but failed to impress anyone in their second game, a loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. With those Chiefs looking better than anyone thought they could be, the poor Week 2 performance might not be totally the Cowboys’ fault. This week, they meet another AFC West opponent in the San Diego Chargers.

Just three years ago, the Chargers had one of the top offenses in football, with Philip Rivers as an All-Pro quarterback and weapons like Vincent Jackson and Darren Sproles making them one of the AFC’s most exciting teams. However, things have gone south for the Chargers since then, with Rivers becoming less than ordinary after Jackson left the team and Ryan Mathews not developing into the game-changing running back they envisioned.

It ended up costing Norv Turner his job in San Diego.

New head coach Mike McCoy has come in and done what he can to turn this team around. Whatever he did in the offseason, it has worked wonders for Rivers. The quarterback has thrown 48 interceptions in the past three seasons and that has killed his team. Part of that was because of a lack of superstar talent at wide receiver, but a lot of it was on Rivers’ head as well.

This season, through three games, Rivers has thrown for 798 yards with eight touchdowns and only one interception. It is almost like a rebirth for the one-time star quarterback.

Rivers has done this without Malcom Floyd, who has been battling a neck injury. That absence has been covered by the emergence of former Denver Broncos receiver Eddie Royal, who has reemerged as well in 2013. In his first three games, Royal has caught 12 passes for 148 yards and five touchdowns. If Floyd doesn’t return against the Cowboys, Vincent Brown will continue to replace him in the lineup across from Royal.

The biggest weapon for Rivers is tight end Antonio Gates. While the big receiver is not the game breaker he once was, he looks to be healthy for the first time in a long time and has 15 receptions for 228 yards and one touchdown on the season.

The running game still hasn’t improved, with Ryan Mathews’ best performance in a Week 2 game with the Philadelphia Eagles where he only gained 73 rushing yards. Outside of a reception for a score in Week 1, he hasn’t seen the end zone this year.

Thanks to the reemergence of the passing game, the Chargers have been competitive in all three games, beating the Eagles while losing by three to the Houston Texans and three to the Tennessee Titans. Their losses are due to the fact that they are giving up 28 points a game and rank 31st in passing defense and 28th in rushing defense.

With those numbers, it looks like Tony Romo and DeMarco Murray will both have a big game with the Chargers needing their offense to keep up. The Chargers defense is led by Eric Weddle, who has a team-leading 24 tackles, 19 solo, but the unit only has one interception as their sole turnover of the season and a low six total sacks through three games

coleryan Posts:21705 Followers:24
09/26/2013 01:33 PM

Penalties have been an issue for the Dallas Cowboys for years, no matter who has been the head coach.

Slowly Jason Garrett appears to have tightened the strings a little bit.

Through three games, the Cowboys have been penalized 16 times for 139 yards. Only nine teams have fewer penalties than the Cowboys through three games.

It might not sound like much, but it’s great progress. Through three games last year, the Cowboys had 31 penalties for 238 yards on their way to 117 penalties for 853 yards. The Cowboys have not been this penalty-free, so to speak, through the first three games of a season since 2001.

In that year they had 13 penalties for 109 yards in an 0-3 start that turned into a 5-11 finish.

Defensively the Cowboys have four penalties. Doug Free, who led the NFL with 15 penalties a year ago, has yet to draw a flag this season.

“We are making an emphasis on it,” coach Jason Garrett said. “We understand those things don’t help you. They hurt you. Again, you never want to take a team’s aggressiveness away from them, but we just have to minimize those types of plays. We have to take care of the ball better. We have to minimize the penalties and not beat ourselves. It’s a big emphasis for our football team. We have done a pretty good job of it so far. We have to get better though.”

coleryan Posts:21705 Followers:24
09/26/2013 01:33 PM

In the late stages of training-camp practices in 2012, the Dallas Cowboys visited the San Diego Chargers for a few days to scrimmage.

The most eventful event of these sessions occurred between Cowboys cornerback Orlando Scandrick and Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers. During a two-minute drill, Rivers scored a touchdown and spiked the ball.

It drew the ire of Scandrick, who said something.

Sunday the Chargers and Cowboys meet again. But Scandrick and Rivers are playing nice. In fact, there's now a mutual respect between them.

"We had some fun, that guy, we talked after the practice and I kinda picked his brain a little bit and see what he was thinking because it was preseason," Scandrick said. "I just like to talk to the quarterbacks to see what they're thinking so I can get a better understanding of what their reads are so it can give me a better understanding of how to defend things."

Scandrick and Rivers both have played well in the first three weeks of the season. Scandrick has taken the starting job from an injured Morris Claiborne, and Rivers is second in the NFL in passer rating (116.2) and tied for second in touchdown passes (eight).

"I love Philip," Scandrick said. "Just from over the years competing with him, practicing with him, I love that guy, man. I got the world of respect for him. For a lot of years, 10 years for him, outside of his rookie year, nine of those years have been on his back. He's a stand-up guy, he takes so much of accountability. I remember watching him at North Carolina State when I was a kid, and now I'm playing against him. He's about as outstanding as they come, he's smart, he's tough and he's competitive."

Said Rivers: "He’s a heck of a competitor. He can play at the outside corner position, obviously, and he’s a real crafty guy there in the slot when he plays the nickel. I best describe him as 'a football player,' which means he’s just a complete player. He’s so competitive. He has a knack for making plays and he plays the ball well. He’s certainly a big contributor for them. I know with [the Cowboys having] Claiborne and [Brandon] Carr, but he’s also been outside and he comes in the nickel and third-down situations, so he’s a solid player for him."

coleryan Posts:21705 Followers:24
09/27/2013 11:47 AM

Rewind to the latter part of the 2012 season: Corey Liuget is continuing his breakout season and Kendall Reyes is emerging as a standout rookie and a guy that can really get to the quarterback. Add Cam Thomas to the mix, a reserve nose tackle that looked like he needed more snaps to break out, and the outlook for 2013 is pretty good. According to Pro Football Focus, Corey Liuget was the 8th best 3-4 defensive end in 2012, with positive grades in both pass rush and run defense. As a rookie, Kendall Reyes was rated number 14, largely due to his pass rushing ability. Considering they were in their second and first NFL season, the sky seemed to be the limit for the duo. So far in 2013, Liuget and Reyes rank 41st and 42nd out of 42. THE worst two starters in the at their position. What gives?

In 2012, the Chargers were 6th in the NFL in run defense. Subtract Aubrayo Franklin, not much is different about the personnel or the coaching. Through 3 games, San Diego is 28th in rushing yards allowed. Beyond the numbers, you can see them get pushed back nearly every play, not penetrating or even taking up blockers to free up others to make plays.

On passing downs, the front three is not getting any push at all either. In 2012, Corey Liuget produced 33 total QB disruptions on 421 pass rush snaps. Reyes was even more efficient, notching 33 total disruptions in only 320 rushing snaps. Cam Thomas was also fairly strong rushing the passer, collecting 16 pressures on 161 snaps. The trio that combined for 82 pressures in 16 games has 7 so far in 2103. 7. For the entire starting defensive line. Thomas has 1 in 60 pass rushes, Reyes has 2 in 88 rushes, and Liuget has 4 in 91 rushes. The productivity has essentially been a third of what it was in 2012, and the effect is felt all through the defense.

Last year, the Bolts had a respectable pass defense (18th) largely due to the defensive line's ability to stop the run and put the offense in tough down and distance situations as well as rush the passer when the time came. They started two sub-par corners in Antoine Cason and Quentin Jammer, (who always had fans pulling their hair out) but they still got the job done because they had help. Now, the Chargers have two new corners who are struggling mightily and who could use some help from someone other than Dwight Freeney.

So, what's the deal? Is Liuget still suffering from a shoulder injury? Is Kendall Reyes experiencing a sophomore slump? Is Cam Thomas not able to handle being the starter? Is the coaching not allowing these guys to play to their potential? Whatever it is, these players need to figure it out. This defense is capable of being much better, but that cannot happen unless the young players on the defensive line start to play how they have shown they are capable of playing.

coleryan Posts:21705 Followers:24
09/27/2013 11:49 AM

Brian Waters made his last start in Super Bowl XLVI to end the 2011 season. His next start could come Sunday.

Waters took first-team snaps at right guard Wednesday, an indication he is ready for a full workload instead of alternating with Mackenzy Bernadeau.

“That’s the goal — to try to make it through a whole game,” Waters said. “We’ll see how it goes. Obviously, Mack will be ready to go. I think we’re all confident he’ll be ready to go if anything happens so we’ll see how it goes.”

Waters signed with the Cowboys on Sept. 3 after sitting out last season. He was inactive for the season opener and played four series in Week 2 against the Kansas City Chiefs. He and Bernadeau alternated series last week against St. Louis, with Waters getting 31 of 62 snaps.

“I’ve still got a ways to go,” Waters, 36, said. “That’s still going to be the way I look at it. I’m always going to be my hardest critic, so I feel like I still have a way to go.”

coleryan Posts:21705 Followers:24
09/27/2013 11:50 AM

The Dallas Cowboys are scheduled to lose Sunday at San Diego. Well, at least that’s what recent history tells us.

Just last week, defensive tackle Jason Hatcher addressed his teammates, urging them to perform well every week so that the Cowboys can get off their win one, lose one roller coaster after back-to-back 8-8 seasons.

The Cowboys haven’t shaken the mediocrity bug yet this season – following a Week 1 win with a Week 2 loss – and can’t begin to distance themselves from it until they win back-to-back games.

“Everything you’re trying to build is winning games now,” Cowboys tight end Jason Witten said Thursday. “This is when you get separation. We’ve found ourselves the past two years playing for divisions in Week 17 but you always look back and say, ‘If we had that one,’ early on in the season.

“We’re just trying to create an atmosphere and a mindset of ‘Let’s go do that.’ We’re all tired of talking and we know the results have got to happen.”

Last season, the Cowboys didn’t win consecutive games until Weeks 10 and 11 on Nov. 11 and 18.

And the fourth game of the season hasn’t gone well for the Cowboys the last decade. They’re 2-8 the last 10 seasons in their fourth game.

The Cowboys haven’t started 3-1 since 2008. They’ve started 3-1 or better only three times in the last 10 seasons.

In fact, the Cowboys have lost six consecutive times when they’ve gone into their fourth game of the season with a 2-1 record.

The Cowboys are in a great position to create separation from their NFC East foes Sunday. The Cowboys already have a one-game lead over Philadelphia, which has to play at 3-0 Denver on Sunday. The Giants and Redskins are a combined 0-6.

“You want to build a cushion,” Cowboys defensive end DeMarcus Ware said. “You want to build confidence early.”

coleryan Posts:21705 Followers:24
09/28/2013 10:41 AM

The Dallas Cowboys will be without wide receiver Miles Austin for Sunday's game against the San Diego Chargers.

Austin was ruled out after missing three days of practice with a strained hamstring suffered in the third quarter of last week's win against the St. Louis Rams. Because of Austin's history of hamstring injuries, the Cowboys will be conservative with him, but coach Jason Garrett said it is not as severe as some of the strains the receiver suffered in previous seasons.

After practicing Friday, receiver Dwayne Harris (hip) said he will play Sunday even though he was listed as questionable.

"Monday I couldn't even move," Harris said. "It feels so much better. I'm not worried about it. I played the whole game Sunday with the same thing."

Defensive end DeMarcus Ware (stinger), cornerback Morris Claiborne (shoulder) and linebacker Ernie Sims (groin) are probable.

coleryan Posts:21705 Followers:24
09/28/2013 10:43 AM

Chargers middle linebacker Manti Te’o is expected to make his regular-season debut on Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys. The Notre Dame product made it through a week of practice as a full participant after missing the first three games due to a foot injury, and is listed as probable on the team’s injury report.

Te'oHowever, San Diego coach Mike McCoy stopped short of saying the rookie definitely will play on Sunday.

“He’s had a great week of practice,” McCoy said. “And it’s been great for him to kind of get back out there, and get into the flow of things. So it’s looking good today.”

For his part, Te’o says he’s ready. “I get to play with my guys, so I’m excited,” Te’o said.

If he plays, one of the questions Te’o will face is how he performs once the opening whistle blows. Conditioning could be an issue. The Chargers attempted to replicate game speed in practice, but things always move a tick quicker once a player is on the field.

“I could go out here and play hoops against these other coaches, but if they’re going to throw me in some live action down there at San Diego State, I think it’s going to be a shock to me, first of all, because I ain’t that good,” joked defensive coordinator John Pagano. “Game speed is always going to be faster than anything else. So that’s something he’s going to adapt to very quickly.”

Fellow linebacker Donald Butler said he’s anxious to see what Te’o can do.

“It means a lot, obviously,” said Butler, who’s also probable for Sunday after practicing fully all week. Butler’s dealing with a groin issue. “They brought him in here to be an impact, and play with me. And we had a good week of practice. So I’m excited to see him go out there to see what he can do.”

While Te’o returns, the Chargers likely will be without three starting offensive linemen when they take the field against a talented Cowboys’ defensive front.

Left tackle King Dunlap (concussion), left guard Chad Rinehart (toe) and right guard Jeromey Clary (clavicle) did not practice all week, leaving their availability in doubt for Sunday.

Dunlap is listed as questionable on the team’s injury report, along with cornerback Shareece Wright (hamstring). Rinehart and Clary are listed as doubtful. Center Nick Hardwick (shin) is probable. Receiver Malcolm Floyd (neck) has been ruled out.

With those three out, the Chargers are looking at a projected starting five of Mike Harris at left tackle, Johnnie Troutman at left guard, Hardwick at center, Rich Ohrnberger at right guard and rookie D.J. Fluker at right tackle.

Recent addition Stephen Schilling also could be in the mix at guard. And McCoy also could move a big body like tackles Nick Becton, Kenny Wiggins or Andrew Tiller up from the practice squad.
No matter what five guys line up on Sunday, offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt said he’ll have his group ready to go.

“Let me say this: they have a good front and are playing well together,” Whisenhunt said, when asked about the Cowboys defensively. “It’s never easy. We have different guys that we’re not exactly sure where it’s going to shake out for Sunday. There’s not much we can do about it. We’re still going to play. We’re still going to kick off at 1pm. We just have to prepare our guys the best we can and know in that situation we’re going to battle. Our guys have done that. They have battled, so that’s what we’re expecting to do on Sunday.”