The winless Dallas Cowboys travel to Nashville, Tennessee to take on the 1-0 Tennessee Titans and current AFC South leader on Sunday at LP Field. The Cowboys are coming off a forgettable game on Sunday evening versus the San Francisco Forty Niners where they lost 28 to 17. The game wasn’t as close as the score would suggest as the Dallas offense looked completely inept in the first half. The Titans are flying high coming off a good win on the road in Kansas City against the Chiefs.
The Titans and the Cowboys have played each other 13 times with the Cowboys winning seven of those matchups. The last time the two teams met it was October 10, 2010 and Jerry’s World had just opened. The Cowboys lost 34-27.
Tony Romo threw three interceptions in that last game while former Titans quarterback Vince Young posted very efficient numbers and threw two touchdowns. Jason McCourty, Michael Griffin, Nate Washington, Craig Stevens and Brett Kern remain from that 2010 Titans team. For the Cowboys, Romo remains of course as does former Tennessee Volunteer Jason Witten, Dez Bryant, Barry Church, Sean Lee who is on injured reserve and Josh Brent who is currently on the suspended list.
Romo finished with decent numbers in Week 1 but sometimes numbers do lie. The Dallas offense was dreadful in the first half and struggled to see the field throughout the entire game. He threw into coverage several regularly and was generally mediocre even in garbage time where he put up most his numbers. Rusty or still injury plagued it doesn’t matter he will have to play better for the Cowboys to be successful this year.
The Titans will try to keep Dez Bryant in check. During training camp they had cornerback Jason McCourty shadowing the best wide receiver at times and this could be the game we see it in action. The Titans also played a lot of nickel and dime in their final training camp practice which you are likely to see as well particularly as inside linebacker Zach Brown is now lost for the season.
The left side of the Cowboys offensive line struggled and that could create some opportunities along the defensive line. Sammie Lee Hill and Karl Klug both had sacks against Kansas City and expect Jurrell Casey to join the sack club Sunday.
The Cowboys defense looks better on paper in large part due to “shutting out” the San Francisco Forty Niners in the second half. Maybe partially but it appeared that the Niners were content to coast in the second half and run the ball pretty exclusively in the fourth quarter. The Cowboys particularly were bad on third down conversions allowing the Niners to convert on 58 percent of their third downs.
For the Titans, the offense under Jake Locker looked fairly efficient (as it did last year before he got injured) and that will test the seemingly improved Dallas defense. The Cowboys run defense gave up 127 yards to the Niners with young Carlos Hyde eating them up for chunks of yardage. It will face a backfield of Shonn Greene, Dexter McCluster, and Bishop Sankey. You might see some of Leon Washington sprinkled in.
The Titans tagged Kansas City for 162 rushing yards and their run game could give the Cowboys trouble. All eyes will be on the carry distribution as fantasy football players likely holding Bishop Sankey will want to see if he gets more opportunity. Sankey had six carries for 25 yards in Week 1 against the Chiefs.
The Cowboys gave up two touchdowns to Vernon Davis and almost 100 receiving yards to Anquan Boldin. Titans tight end Delanie Walker could be poised for a big game. He caught three passes for 37 yards and a touchdown against the Chiefs. You also have to think this could be Justin Hunter’s welcome to the bright lights game. The talented second year receiver saw eight targets last Sunday and led the Titans with 63 receiving yards.
The Titans coverage units still need work but the kicking game appears solid. Ryan Succop was perfect in his first game as a Titan and Brett Kern had an excellent day punting. Dexter McCluster was a bit disappointing in the punt return game in his one and only attempt but there was plenty of blame to spread around on that play.
The Titans lost Zach Brown for the season as mentioned above to a pectoral tear. George Wilson and Mike Martin were limited in practice Thursday while Justin Hunter was a full participant.
The Cowboys will be without linebacker Justin Durant. Special teamer C.J. Spillman, Defensive end Anthony Spencer and offensive lineman Darrion Weems are also expected to miss this game. Defensive ends Lavar Edwards and George Selvie were limited in practice on Thursday and have been declared out. Spillman will be listed as questionable.
The game kicks off at noon CST at LP Field in Nashville, Tennessee. Walt Anderson and his crew will be officiating. The temperature is expected to be in the mid 70s with only a slight chance of rain. The game will be shown locally on Fox and the announcing crew is Joe Buck, Troy Aikman and Erin Andrews. The current Vegas line has the Titans at even with the home field advantage.
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