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Keys to Victory

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Keys To Victory: Cowboys Have To Control Tempo


The Cowboys got some bad news on Friday when they found out Amari Cooper will be out for the game. That's a blow to the offense but they still have plenty of weapons and will need them all to beat the Chiefs on the road.

Here's a look at the keys to victory for both the Chiefs and Cowboys.

The Cowboys will win if…

The Cowboys must control the tempo of this game from start to finish. Dak and Co. need to bring their A-game, as Mike McCarthy counts on the offense to pick up first downs and touchdowns while operating at a deliberate pace to drain the clock and limit the total number of possessions in the game. Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard need to get it done on the ground for the "keep away" plan to work, but the odds are in their favor against a Chiefs' defense that has struggled for most of the season.

Defensively, Dan Quinn must help his young defenders understand the importance of keeping the ball in front of the defense. The Chiefs are a big-play offense with the capacity to put 20-plus points in a quarter when Patrick Mahomes gets into a rhythm and is able to push the ball down the field. The secondary must stay on top of the Chiefs' perimeter weapons and force the impatient passer to settle for dump-offs and check-downs throughout the game. If Mahomes is unable to throw it over the top of the defense, the Chiefs' offense could unravel with their star players turning the ball over while attempting to make highlight plays instead of opting for a conservative approach on game day.

The Chiefs will win if…

The Chiefs are rounding into form as a title contender behind an offense that is beginning to play sound football. The explosive potential of the offense could show up on Sunday due to the ultra-aggressive playing styles of the Cowboys' young defenders. Andy Reid could attempt to take advantage of those traits by featuring more screens and misdirection plays early in the game. In addition, the Chiefs will dial up some double moves in the passing game to see if they can catch Trevon Diggs with his hands in the cookie jar in a critical moment.

If the Chiefs' offense is able to generate a few big plays early, it will enable defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo to blitz like crazy to get a key stop or big turnover against a Cowboys' offense that could be forced to chase points. A shootout works in the Chiefs' favor and it could be their best path to victory against a top NFC team with the weapons to challenge them in a high-scoring affair.

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