IRVING, Texas –The Cowboys are coming off a Week 3 win over the Rams and now look to finish the September schedule with a 3-1 record.
To do that, they'll have to get past the Chargers, who sit at 1-2 but have been competitive in the first three games.
Here are the gut feelings for staff writers Nick Eatman, Bryan Broaddus, David Helman and Rowan Kavner.
Take one look at the Chargers' injury report, and you feel like the Cowboys should win this game comfortably. San Diego won't have receiver Malcolm Floyd, and starting guards Jeromey Clary and Chad Rhinehart are listed as doubtful. Rookie tackle D.J. Fluker is probable, but he's attempting to bounce back from a concussion. The Cowboys won't have Miles Austin, but the rest of their key players are ready to go. All of that said, Phillip Rivers is playing incredibly well these days. I think he'll carry the Chargers long enough to give the Cowboys a scare, but Dallas wins a close one in the end.
A lot's been made of the Chargers sitting in last in passing defense, and rightfully so. The Cowboys have managed to get a different offensive player as the focal point every week, with Jason Witten getting two touchdowns in the opener, Dez Bryant going off a week later and DeMarco Murray the next. I expect it to be Bryant this week. There's not a corner on the Chargers that can match him single-handedly, and the minute they bring the safety over to help the short game with Witten will get going. Phillip Rivers has been fantastic this season, particularly with ball control, but I think that changes this week with the Cowboys' pressure. It will be a bit of a shootout, and one the Cowboys need to and will take as they ditch the .500 funk.
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The Cowboys could dominate this game in similar fashion as last week – but they won't. Yes, San Diego is beat up on the line and you look at their offensive weapons around Philip Rivers and no one really scares you. You can look at their 31st ranked defense and think the Cowboys will exploit that all day. But something tells me it won't be that easy – or easy at all. I see the Chargers grabbing an early 10-point lead in the first half, probably some long touchdown by someone we've barely heard of. But I do think the Cowboys will rise up and rally. It'll be a close finish but Romo and the guys pull through in the clutch.
Bryan Broaddus: As much as I want to believe that these Cowboys receivers are due for a big day against this Chargers secondary, I feel it the tight ends that will cause the majority of the damage. I have said this all week, that John Pagano is not going to allow Tony Romo sit in the pocket and put his secondary under attack. They have struggled for the first three games of the season giving up yards and Pagano knows he has to bring pressure in order to help his coverage. This is where Jason Witten, James Hanna and Gavin Escobar step up to handle the one-on-one match ups that keep the chains moving when the Chargers bring the blitz. When the final whistle sounds, it will be the Cowboys tight ends that will be talked about in their victory on the road.