Pay Attention to This: Cowboys-Chargers Preview

A preview of the Cowboys' game against the Chargers Thursday at 3:25 p.m. at AT&T Stadium

Jason Garrett: He is 0-1 against the Chargers, losing 30-21 in 2013. Dallas has faced only three teams - Houston (four), Baltimore (five) and Jacksonville (six) fewer than the 10 times it has faced San Diego.

Key Matchup:  RT La'El Collins v. DE Joey Bosa. Bosa has emerged as one of the NFL's best pass rushers in just his second NFL season. He had 10.5 sacks last year and already has 10.5 this year, giving him 21 in 22 games. He has terrific hand technique - his father Jon played several seasons in the NFL - and his combination of speed, power and quickness is hard to handle. Collins has allowed three sacks this year and he's been effective, but his technique is inconsistent. When it's off he can be beaten. Tyron Smith is back at left tackle, which means the Cowboys can help Collins if they need to do so.

X Factor: Dez Bryant used to be a known quantity. Now, he's an X Factor because he gets a lot of balls directed his way (98 targets is fifth in the NFL) but he's 15th in receptions with 50 and 29th in yards at 541. It has been 17 games since he had a 100-yard performance and the Cowboys could really use a big game from him to jump start the offense and create some big plays. The running game is nice, but  you score points by throwing the ball in today's NFL.

Key Stat: The Cowboys have a 64.5 pct winning percentage on Thanksgiving Day, but have lost four of the last seven games on the holiday. The 2014 & 2015 losses occurred, in part, because Tony Romo couldn't recover quickly enough to be effective with the four-day turnaround. He broke his collarbone in the 2015 loss. Dak Prescott led the Cowboys to a 31-26 win over Washington in last year's game.

Cowboys Game Plan: Prescott said he's been holding onto the ball too long looking for big plays, so he's going to underneath and let his receivers run after the catch against the Chargers. The Cowboys will have Smith back, which means they don't have to use as many running backs and tight ends in pass protection so they can be more aggressive down the field. If they could get some big plays in the passing game, it would help Alfred Morris even more to be an impact player.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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