Jason Witten of the Dallas Cowboys at Cowboys Stadium on September 23, 2012 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
The stadium was loud. I’m talking can’t-hear-yourself-think, ears-ringing-an-hour-later levels of noise.
The culprit? A crowd that didn’t even really exist. During Cowboys practice at AT&T Stadium on Thursday, head coach Jason Garrett pumped in the loudest fake home field advantage noise I’ve ever heard. And that’s exactly how Garrett wanted it.
“That’s how it’s been for the last few days,” said veteran tight end Jason Witten. “It’s really loud.”
Garrett knows the tidal wave of noise the Cowboys have awaiting them in Kansas City. Sunday is both the Chiefs home opener and the Arrowhead Stadium debut of new head coach Andy Reid and quarterback Alex Smith. Through good times and bad, the stadium on the Kansas-Missouri border has maintained a reputation as one of the best home field advantages in the NFL.
And now, with a home team considered a dark horse playoff contender with the aforementioned Reid and Smith leading the charge? Bring your earplugs.
Keys to the Game
1. Can the Cowboys stop the Chiefs running game? Few NFL quarterbacks have relied on the run game more in their careers like new Chiefs QB Alex Smith. As former Cowboys scout, now DallasCowboys.com contributor Bryan Broaddus points out on Twitter, Smith’s career record when throwing 35 or more passes in a game is 3-11. The Cowboys need to make Smith prove he can beat them.
2. Is Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles healthy enough to be a difference maker? I loved the quote Charles gave to NFL Network reporter Desmond Purnell. When Purnell asked him if he was around 80-to-90 percent healthy after a quad injury in week one, Charles responded, “I’m ready-to-play percent ready.” If Charles is slowed by the quad, it will definitely help Dallas’ defense in defending the Chiefs ground game.
3. Will Dallas’ offensive line continue its positive performance from last week? The biggest question going into the season for the Cowboys included the teams’ largest people. But the Cowboys offensive line made those concerns look invalid in a victory over the Giants. Yes, Dallas rushed for less than 100 yards in the game. However, Tony Romo was only sacked twice in the game. Plus, the Cowboys adds veteran offensive lineman Brian Waters to the mix this week (Cowboys vice president Stephen Jones told KLRD radio he expects Waters to play a “significant amount” on Sunday).
4. Is Monte Kiffin able to keep the Cowboys turnover magic rolling? The Cowboys had six (6?!?) takeaways in their week one victory over the Giants. That’s a number they didn’t reach until Week 7 in 2012. I’m beginning to think the “secret sauce” Stephen Jones referred to leading into the season is really just a raspy-voiced, 73-year old defensive coordinator who has his defense playing with high levels of confidence, despite giving up 450 yard through the air to Eli Manning last week. If the Cowboys can create half the number of turnovers they did last week, it’s likely they’ll start the season 2-0.
Game knowledge that will impress your friends
The Cowboys haven’t had much luck against Andy Reid-coached teams in the past. Reid has a 17-12 lifetime record against Dallas… As ESPN Dallas’s Jean-Jacques Taylor points out on Twitter, the Cowboys have not started a season 2-0 since 2008. However, the fast start didn’t help. The Cowboys did not make the playoffs that season, getting blown out by the Eagles in week 17…
If the Chiefs make the playoffs this season, they would be just the third team ever to have the number one pick in the draft one season, and make the postseason the following year (Miami in 2007-08, Indianapolis in 2011-12)…
Just how rare was the Cowboys six-turnover game against the Giants? It’s the first time the Cowboys have had 6 takeaways in a game since December of 2003. To put that in perspective, Cowboys rookie linebacker DeVonte Holloman, who had a fumble recovery in the game, was in sixth grade in 2003…
The last time the Cowboys visited the Chiefs was a memorable game for wide receiver Miles Austin. Austin had 250 yards receiving – a franchise record – in a 26-20 Dallas victory.
Before the season, I predicted a 10-6 record for the Cowboys this season. One of the reasons I had them winning so many games? I think they’ll get off to a fast start to the year and to beat teams like the Chiefs early in 2013. I have the Cowboys winning this one close, 31-27.