DALLAS COWBOYS (1-0)
at DENVER BRONCOS (1-0)
Sports Authority Field at Mile High – Denver, CO
Kickoff: Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET
Line: Dallas -2, Total: 42
The Cowboys and the Broncos will duke it out with 2-0 on the line on Sunday.
Last year, the Dallas Cowboys opened their season with a 20-19 home loss to the New York Giants. They won their next 11 games, not losing again until December. If you look at it a certain way, the Cowboys got off to an even better start this season, as they opened their 2017 campaign with a 19-3 triumph over those same Giants (DAL -6). As the score indicates, this year's contest was even more void of offensive intrigue than last year's, as Odell Beckham Jr. sat the game with an injury and Eli Manning struggled badly without him. The Dallas defense keyed in on the run, and New York managed a measly 35 yards on the ground. With win number one under their belt, the Cowboys take to the road for a Sunday afternoon matchup with the Denver Broncos this week. Denver is also 1-0, and looked similarly dominant for three quarters of their home win over the Chargers. They gave up two fourth-quarter touchdowns, though, before blocking a would-be game-tying field goal to hold on to a 24-21 victory over Los Angeles (DEN -3). Over the last five seasons, non-conference games involving a team coming off of a divisional game (both DEN and DAL, in this case) are 30-8 Over against totals between 35.5 and 42. Since the beginning of last season, Dallas is 8-1 ATS coming off of games in which they outrushed their opponent by at least 75 yards. WR Terrance Williams and CB Orlando Scandrick didn't practice for Dallas as recently as Thursday, with Williams seeming more likely to play on Sunday.
To say that Dallas RB Ezekiel Elliott's offseason was embroiled in controversy would be an understatement. After posting one of the most impressive rookie seasons in recent memory, Elliott earned himself a six-game suspension thanks to a series of unfortunate off-the-field incidents. The suspension has been (at least) delayed, though, and Elliott is good to go at Mile High this weekend. He picked up right where he left off from last season in his Week 1 outing, rushing 24 times for 104 yards and catching 5 balls for 36 yards through the air. 30 touches a game is probably unsustainable for a full season—although it might be fine for a 10-game season—but Zeke will always be a workhorse in this offense. His sophomore counterpart, QB Dak Prescott, stayed out of the headlines over the summer, but he also looked like the same excellent player he was as a rookie. Prescott completed 24 of 39 passes against the Giants for 268 yards and a touchdown, providing the same safe, methodical leadership he did for this offense last season. His touchdown pass was to TE Jason Witten, who caught seven passes for 59 yards. In doing so, Witten broke Michael Irvin's franchise record for receiving yards. Witten's record now stands at 11,947 yards. Williams sustained his ankle injury on the first play of the game, but still returned to post game-high receiving numbers with six grabs for 68 yards. Star WR Dez Bryant had only two catches on nine targets and finished with 43 yards. WRs Cole Beasley (3-32) and Brice Butler (1-30) caught passes, as well.
Denver QB Trevor Siemian was something of a surprise last season, as he went from a virtual unknown to the season-long starter (minus a minor injury or two) for one of the NFL's marquee franchises. Some thought he would lose the job this offseason to 2016 draft pick Paxton Lynch, but Lynch remains a project and Siemian remains a reliable choice at the position for a team with a consistently strong defense. Siemian was 17-of-28 against Los Angeles for 219 yards, two touchdown passes and an interception. He also punched in a one-yard TD run. Both touchdown passes went to third-year WR Bennie Fowler III, who doubled what had been his career total for TD passes with the two scores. Each came on short routes from inside the 10-yard line. WR Demaryius Thomas worked his wide frame to the usual effect, catching five passes for 67 yards, with a long of 29. Siemian's longest completed pass of the night was to TE Virgil Green, who pulled in his only catch of the evening for 44 yards. TE A.J. Derby had three catches for 34 yards, and WR Emmanuel Sanders had three catches for 26. Expect bigger things from Sanders going forward. More of a concern in Denver is the running game, but things were solid in that area against Los Angeles. Longtime starter RB C.J. Anderson carried the ball 20 times for an unspectacular 81 yards, while former division rival RB Jamaal Charles had an almost identical per-carry average in gaining 40 yards on 10 carries. Charles did relinquish a costly fumble in the fourth quarter, though, which won't help endear him to his new coaching staff.