IRVING, Texas –The Cowboys are back to 2-2 and about to face the NFL's hottest team, with the hottest offense and arguably one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time. So do they have any shot of knocking off Peyton Manning and the Broncos Sunday at AT&T Stadium?
Here are the gut feelings for staff writers Nick Eatman, Bryan Broaddus, David Helman and Rowan Kavner.
I feel a lot better about this game now than I did on Monday, but I'm not sure exactly how good. The Cowboys were unable to fluster Philip Rivers last week, which doesn't give me much confidence they'll be able to get to Peyton Manning on Sunday. The linebackers' performances in San Diego, combined with Morris Claiborne's recent struggles don't give me much faith the Dallas defense can slow down the Broncos. I think Tony Romo and Co. are up to the challenge of keeping up, and I think they'll be able to put 28 to 31 points on the board. Manning will make the difference, however, and I see the Broncos making a play late to ice a seven to 10-point victory.
Time to see just what this Cowboys team is really made of, in particular its defense. The Cowboys have let two teams pass for more than 400 yards through four weeks, and Peyton Manning hasn't even come to town yet. The Dallas defense has to ready itself for the best passing attack it may ever see, and that's with Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees still on the horizon. The linebackers and secondary have had their struggles against much lesser receiving threats than the ones posed by the Broncos. They'll need to take their drops and their reads to another level to help their offense out, and both Dez Bryant and Jason Witten need to be near perfect. In the end, the Broncos simply have too many answers offensively to keep up.
The NFL is a crazy league and it always seems like we end up seeing the opposite of what everyone thinks will happen. But in this care, I just see the Broncos being too strong. However, Manning has not thrown an interception all year but I'm predicting he will throw one early in the game, maybe even on the first drive. And why not, why not say Morris Claiborne will get it? I really think the Cowboys will have some success on offense, particularly on the ground. And I can see where the Cowboys take a lead into the third quarter. But Peyton Manning continues to score and the Broncos pull it out in a high-scoring affair. I can see Terrance Williams getting his first touchdown this week.
This matchup for the Cowboys and Broncos could come down to two of the shortest players in the NFL. What Wes Welker and Cole Beasley lack in height, they make up for it in play making ability. Welker has been successful over a number of years and at a very high level. Beasley is just starting his career and hopes to one day even be mentioned in the same breath as Welker. What they both bring to their clubs, is that ability to be a mismatch player. To work out of the slot and put pressure on a defense right now with a subtle move. Where these players, are so dangerous is how they perform in space. Their stop-start quickness, is hard to defend. My gut feeling tells me the Cole Beasley will have a big game against the Broncos on 3rd down and will make several key catches that keep drives going.