DALLAS COWBOYS (1-0) AT DENVER BRONCOS (1-0)
SERIES HISTORY: 12th regular-season meeting. Broncos lead series, 7-4. The Broncos have won five straight. The most historic meeting was in Super Bowl XII, when the Cowboys defeated the Broncos 27-10.
KEYS TO THE GAME: For Denver, it starts with stopping the run. The old cliché rings true. After allowing a 21-yard gallop to Melvin Gordon on Monday night, the Broncos' run defense tightened up, limiting Gordon and the Chargers to just 2.0 yards per carry the rest of the game. A similar effort might be difficult to put together against the Cowboys and Ezekiel Elliott; but, if the Broncos can pull that off, they will put the game into the hands of Dak Prescott.
While Prescott has been extremely effective and accurate in his career, throwing just four interceptions in 17 starts, he hasn't faced a defense with two Pro Bowl cornerbacks like the one Denver boasts with Aqib Talib and Chris Harris. If the Broncos force Prescott to throw deep and outside, they'll have the Cowboys where they want them.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH:
--Cowboys OTs Tyron Smith and La'el Collins vs. Broncos OLBs Von Miller and Shaquil Barrett. Barrett had the only sack between the Broncos' two edge rushers last Monday, but both generated plenty of pressure on Philip Rivers and forced the Chargers to chip and double-team on a regular basis, often limiting Rivers' intermediate options under pressure. Smith and Collins are generally capable of succeeding in one-on-one matchups, but if they need help against Miller and Barrett, this will change the Cowboys' equation drastically.
--Broncos OTs Garett Bolles and Menelik Watson vs. Cowboys DEs Tyrone Crawford, DeMarcus Lawrence, Taco Charlton and Benson Mayowa. While Dallas' edge rushers don't offer the same stern challenge as Chargers defensive ends Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram did on Monday night, they can cause issues. And that could be troublesome after the Broncos allowed too much pressure from the edge. Watson, in particular, struggled, allowing three sacks.
PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: Broncos DE Adam Gotsis. He made the most of his 31 snaps Monday night, posting five tackles and repeatedly bursting into the backfield. The 2016 second-round pick struggled as a rookie, in part because he was still recovering from a torn ACL suffered as a senior at Georgia Tech. But, against the Chargers, he displayed the tenacity and athleticism that caught the Broncos' eye.
FAST FACTS: Dallas QB Dak Prescott passed for 268 yards and a touchdown in a win over the Giants last week. He has 12 passing TDs and just three interceptions in eight career road games. He also is 4-0 with nine TDs and no INTs in four games vs. the AFC. ... Dallas RB Ezekiel Elliott gained 140 scrimmage yards (104 rushing) in Week 1. He has hit 100 in 12 of 16 career games. In four games vs. the AFC, he has 437 rushing yards and seven TDs. ... In Week 1, Dallas TE Jason Witten (11,947) surpassed Hall of Famer Michael Irvin (11,904) for most receiving yards in franchise history. ... Denver QB Trevor Siemian passed for two TDs and recorded his first career rushing TD in Week 1. ... Denver WR Demaryius Thomas aims for his fourth game in a row vs. the NFC with a TD catch. His 497 catches and 6,937 yards are second in the NFL since 2012.
PREDICTION: As long as Prescott and Elliott are protected by an All-Pro wall, the Cowboys will be tough to beat.
OUR PICK: Cowboys, 24-17.