While it's supposed to get easier in Week 2 for the Cowboys after facing Tom Brady and the Bucs, it doesn't feel like it.
Not only are the Chargers are a quality team with some great young talent, but they're playing in front of fans for the first time at SoFi Stadium this Sunday.
Here's a look at the keys to victory for both the Chargers and Cowboys.
The Cowboys will win if…
The Cowboys must play an A-plus game of complementary football to knock off the Chargers on the road. The offense must dictate the game tempo by jumping out to a lead and playing a game of "keep away" for 60 minutes. While Ezekiel Elliott will need to play a key role as a workhorse runner, the game could hinge on Prescott's ability to connect with CeeDee Lamb and Amari Cooper on the perimeter. The Cowboys must be efficient on offense to keep their patchwork defense on the sidelines.
Defensively, Dan Quinn must dig into his bag to come up with a creative plan to attack the Chargers. He will need to rely on his deep linebacker corps to replace some of the pass rush production that is missing due to an assortment of injuries and COVID issues. If the Cowboys can manufacture a pass rush without giving up big plays down the field, the aggressive tactics could disrupt Justin Herbert's rhythm.
The Chargers will win if
The Chargers have a squad with the potential to make a Super Bowl run. They have a Top 5 quarterback with blue-chip traits and a game that enables him to light up elite squads with his efficient playmaking ability. Justin Herbert is not afraid to push the ball down the field to a talented collection of pass catchers on the perimeter. Keenan Allen and Mike Williams are super-sized playmakers with exceptional 50-50 ball skills. They are capable of dominating the game on the outside and that gives the Chargers a chance to light up the scoreboards whenever they step onto the field.
Austin Eckler is a sneaky playmaker out of the backfield with solid pass-catching skills. He wins against linebackers in space and will pick up chunk yards on draws/delays on passing downs.
Defensively, the Chargers will mix up their looks to put their best defenders in prime positions to make plays. Joey Bosa and Derwin James are the headliners of the unit but there are a handful of underrated contributors with solid playmaking ability. From Asante Samuel, Jr. to Jerry Tillery and Linval Joseph, the Chargers' defense has enough speed and explosiveness to create turnovers while also snuffing out the opponents' top scoring threats. Against the Cowboys, it starts with slowing down Ezekiel Elliott and forcing Dak Prescott to win through the air. If the Chargers can force Dallas to throw 40-plus times, the game could go their way with the pass rush emerging as the deciding factor.