Dallas Cowboys (2-1, 2-1 ATS) at Denver Broncos (3-0, 3-0 ATS)
Mile High Stadium Sunday October 4th, 4:15PM Eastern
By Jay Horne of Predictem.com
Point Spread: Dallas -3/Denver +3
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The Denver Broncos are off to a surprising 3-0 start and an outright lead in the AFC West. However, the Broncos will have their work cut out for them if they are to remain unbeaten as they will host the Dallas Cowboys at Mile High Stadium. The Cowboys are on 1 day shorter rest coming fresh off a Monday night victory over the still winless Carolina Panther 21-7. The Cowboys offense has played well which they normally do during the first half of the season and will try and tackle a Broncos defense that has allowed just 5.3 points per game in their first 3 outings.
Denver has not allowed over 7 points in their first 3 games and has outscored the opposition 62-16. The argument may be made the Broncos have not played any solid competition, but in all respect the Broncos were not expected by most to be a bottom dweller in the AFC. However, quarterback Kyle Orton who was in that seemingly lucrative trade with Chicago for Jay Cutler, has yet to throw 1 pick this season. Orton biggest problem in Chicago was allowing too many interceptions, but has looked pretty solid in charge of the Denver offense.
The passing offense has not had too much stress, considering the rushing attack has been solid. Rookie tailback Knowshon Moreno is becoming a bigger asset each week and is averaging 4 yards per carry so far this season. Correll Buckhalter leads the team in rushing with 230 yards averaging a strong 7.4 yards per carry. If these two guys can continue to produce, it will keep a lot of pressure off the passing game and perhaps keep the Broncos from turning over the football.
The biggest asset for the Broncos this season has been the defense. They have allowed just 1 touchdown in 3 games and 8 straight score without giving up a touchdown. Denver is holding opponents to just 214 yards of total offense. However, those numbers have been against some rather weak offensive teams. The Broncos defense gets their chance to prove they are for real when they take on their biggest challenge to date in the Dallas Cowboys offense.
The Cowboys offense took another blow in their Monday night loss to Carolina. Starting running back Marion Barber was already out due to a quadriceps injury. However, that was not really a concern considering backup Felix Jones has been superb in limited action. Jones did not disappoint running for 94 yards on just 8 carries. However, Jones sprained ligaments in his knee on his last carry of the game which was result from a 40 yard game breaker.
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The Cowboys now turn to 3rd string back Tashard Choice. Choice is a pretty solid back for 3rd string caliber in just his 2nd year in the league. Choice stepped in pretty solid rushing for 82 yards on 18 attempts after Jones departure. However, Choice may lack some of the tough power running the other backs may possess and it will be interesting to see how the youngster can carry the work load.
Of course the main success the Cowboys offense will experience rides on the arm of quarterback Tony Romo. Romo had a solid outing against the Panthers failing to throw a single pick after throwing 3 in the Cowboys loss to the Giants. Romo has 735 yards on the season, but it completing just 57% of his passes which is considerably down to his standards. However, outside of the outing with the Giants, Romo has played pretty well.
The offense is still waiting to see if anyone will step up to be the go to guy for the loss of WR Terrell Owens. The most logical answer is all the receivers will have to pick up the slack. Wide outs Roy Williams, Patrick Clayton, and tight end Jason Witten all have posted 180 yards receiving. All 3 targets have similar numbers with Witten catching twice as many passes as anyone on the team. Witten is the reliable target, but the Cowboys offense still needs Williams and Clayton to produce a bigger down the field threat if the offense is going to carry the team this season.
Jay’s Pick - This should be a close game throughout, but I think Denver wins as their nasty home field advantage will make the difference.