The Dallas Cowboys are in the home stretch of the season, beginning with the next 3 games. Games against playoff caliber opponents that will test the Cowboys in different ways. It starts with the Kansas City Chiefs.
These Chiefs don’t look like the team they’ve been for the past 3 years. In previous seasons, they set the NFL world on fire with incredible offensive performances, lead by the next G.O.A.T. quarterback in Patrick Mahomes.
This year, they look night and day. The defense ranks among the worst in the league in most major categories, and Mahomes has embodied the Brett Favre comparisons, throwing many of his passes to opposing teams with the 2nd most interceptions.
Now with a big victory at the hands of the Las Vegas Raiders, there’s a sense that they’re ‘back to normal’. Which would be bad timing for the Dallas Cowboys, who are playing some of the best ball in the league.
The Cowboys should be favorites in this game, despite being 2.5-point underdogs. Headlines are going to call this “Dak vs. Mahomes” as this is the 1st time they’ve played each other. A pair of elite QBs, powerful offenses, and Super Bowl winning head coaches.
All eyes will be on this game, and how the Cowboys can beat the Chiefs. These are some huge areas the Cowboys can control, and win this game.
The “Kyle Pitts” Game Plan
Travis Kelce is a future Hall of Fame tight end who’s still playing at an elite level. He is the ‘chain mover’ on the offense and Mahomes’ security blanket.
He will be targeted all game long.
— KC Sports Network (@KCSportsNetwork) November 19, 2021
Luckily enough, the Dallas Cowboys have the blueprint for slowing down a dominant tight end. It might not necessarily be Jourdan Lewis be taking on Kelce, but they’ve shown throughout the season to be able to contain big targets in the middle.
If Kelce is on the line of scrimmage, it will likely be Jayron Kearse. If he’s lined up in the slot, Lewis will be the match up. If he lines up on the outside where the Z-receiver normally is, look for Trevon Diggs to be the man.
"I appreciate everybody that will give me credit for the play, but it won’t show up on the stat sheet." — Jayron Kearse, 9/19/21pic.twitter.com/YMjzqtr74K
— Mark Lane (@therealmarklane) September 22, 2021
In any case, they have the formula.
Teams are running the ball on Kansas City at will. The Chiefs allow the 10th most rushing yards, and 3rd most yards per rush.
The Chiefs run defense has to be on point in their gap assignments. Do your job and protect your gap. Otherwise Elliott will set you up on your over pursuit and destroy you. #TheGameplanThread pic.twitter.com/kwDaEFPV9Z
— Nick Jacobs (@Jacobs71) November 19, 2021
Not only do the Dallas Cowboys have 2 running backs who average over 4.5 yards per carry, but average the 4th most combined rushing yards per game (139.6).
Simply put, this will control the line of scrimmage, the game clock and break down the Chiefs defense. Similarly to how the running game broke down the Eagles or Panthers.
Fluster Mahomes out of the Pocket
As mentioned earlier, Patrick Mahomes is playing very Brett Favre-like. Mahomes has made a name for his no-look passes, huge arm and ability to make a play from nothing.
Team’s seem to have figured out that not only do you blitz him from the pocket to make him uncomfortable, but to keep the secondary moving. Opponents of the Chiefs are now following receivers for the entirety of the play, with the possibility of a last-second pass occuring.
Not only is this affecting his accuracy, but most of his interceptions, and other potential turnover throws, are occurring this way. The Dallas Cowboys might only need to rush 4 or 5 to affect the pocket, and have the secondary set up for a big play.
Jeff Cavanaugh and Bryan Broaddus discussed on 105.3 The Fan in Dallas in detail that the defense will need to change coverage.
The Cowboys like to run plenty of 3-saftey looks, with a single high free safety. With players like Tyreek Hill and Mecole Hardman, a 2-safety look might be what they need to do. It’s not the defenses best look, but the best way to affect Mahomes down the field.
Throw it Deep. A lot.
Not only do the Chiefs allow yards on the ground, they’re just as egregious through the air. They give up the 4th most 20+ yard passes (39) and the most 40+ yard passes (11) in the league.
— BS Buff Wes (@WesBSBuffalo) October 11, 2021
Conversely, the Dallas Cowboys have a combined 43 passes in 20-40+ yard passes. This is aided even more with the return of the team’s deep threat Michael Gallup.
Despite not having Amari Cooper for the next 2 games, the combination of Gallup and CeeDee Lamb will still supply plenty of big plays. Cedrick Wilson as WR3 has also proven to be a reliable receiver all across the field.
— Dallas Cowboys Collaboration (@mailman_phil) November 14, 2021
The Dallas Cowboys have plenty of firepower, and the Chiefs defense is prone to big plays deep. If this game really is an MVP prove-it game for Dak Prescott, he’ll need to take his chances.