Dallas Cowboys (2-2 SU, 2-2 ATS) vs. Kansas City Chiefs (0-4 SU, 0-4 ATS), 1:00 p.m. EST, Sunday, October 11, 2009, Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, Mo. TV: FOX
by Ryno of Predictem.com
Point Spread: Cowboys -9/Chiefs +9
The Todd Haley/Matt Cassel era in Kansas City has not started well. The 0-4 Chiefs will be looking for their first win of the season when they host the Dallas Cowboys.
Todd Haley was hired in the offseason as the new head coach of the Chiefs, and he wasn’t expecting such a poor start. Cassel, acquired in the offseason as the new starting quarterback, missed the first game of the season with an injury and has lost his first three games as a Chief. He has thrown for 458 yards, five touchdowns and two interceptions in those three games. But Cassel doesn’t have much to work with. Running back Larry Johnson has averaged just 47.3 rushing yards per game and 2.6 yards per carry. Cassel has been sacked 10 times in three games. The Chiefs offensive line has not looked good. Cassel has a few decent receivers to throw to –Dwayne Bowe, Mark Bradley, Bobby Wade and Bobby Engram - but nothing spectacular.
Three of the Chiefs’ losses - the Ravens, Eagles and Giants - were by double digits. The one game they had an opportunity to win was a 13-10 loss at home to the Raiders. In that game, they shut down the Raiders offense, allowing just 176 yards of total offense. Oakland quarterback Jamarcus Russell was just 7-for-24 for 109 yards.
Running backs Darren McFadden and Michael Bush each had just 35 yards. Cassel threw for 241 yards and the Chiefs ran for 173 yards, but they scored just 10 points. They couldn’t get quality starting field position on any drive, starting past the 30-yard line just once and never starting past the 39-yard line.
They moved the ball 74 yards on a first quarter drive, but settled for a field goal. They drove 63 yards to end the half, but time ran out. Cassel threw a pair of interceptions in the third quarter. They got their lone touchdown in the fourth quarter on a touchdown pass from Cassel to Bowe.
The Cowboys are 2-2 with two close losses to two of the best teams in the league thus far - the Broncos and Giants. In a 17-10 loss at Denver on Sunday, the Cowboys ran into the top defense in the NFL. They ran the ball 25 times for just 74 yards. Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo attempted 42 passes, but that resulted in 255 yards and an interception. The game was tied at 10 in the fourth quarter, but Broncos wide receiver Brandon Marshall made a spectacular play to score the game-winning touchdown. Still, Dallas had a chance to tie the game with the ball inside the 10-yard line in the final minute, but Romo couldn’t connect with Sam Hurd on fourth down.
Although they have two close losses to two of the top teams in the league, the Cowboys’ two wins are against the Buccaneers and Panthers, two winless teams. It’s yet to be determined if the Cowboys are a playoff-caliber team this season.
The Cowboys have had injury problems this season at running back. Luckily, they have three capable players at that position. Marion Barber and Felix Jones have each missed a game with an injury. Barber returned on Sunday and carried the ball 11 times. He is expected to play against the Chiefs. Jones could be back as well. Tashard Choice has been very serviceable filling in at times for Barber and Jones. The three of them have combined for 589 rushing yards and five touchdowns. As a team, the Cowboys are averaging more than five yards per carry. Jones is averaging over 10 yards per carry.
But the Cowboys have thrown the ball more than they have run the ball. Romo has attempted 131 passes and has completed just 58 percent of them and thrown as many interceptions (4) as touchdowns. If the Cowboys will focus more on running the ball, as they did in their 21-7 win over the Panthers, they could have a stronger offensive attack.
The Cowboys are 2-6 ATS in their last eight road games. The Chiefs are 0-4 ATS this season. They are also 1-5 ATS in their last six home games.
Ryno’s Pick: Other than a close loss to the lowly Raiders, the Chiefs haven’t come within 10 points of any team. The Cowboys have taken care of business against their two weaker opponents - the Bucs and Panthers - but lost close battles with two of the best teams in the league thus far - the Broncos and Giants. The Cowboys are clearly a better team and they don’t want to fall to 2-3. The Giants and Eagles dominated the Chiefs, so there’s no reason another solid NFC East team won’t do the same. Cowboys win, but don’t cover the 9. Take the Chiefs at +9.