Pay Attention To This: Cowboys-Chiefs Preview

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Jason Garrett vs. Kansas City Chiefs: Garrett is 0-1 against the Chiefs, losing 17-16 in 2013 when the Chiefs broke out their all red look, which made them resemble a collection of blood clots. Dez Bryant had nine catches and 141 yards receiving, but the Cowboys’ defense couldn’t stop the Chiefs when it mattered and ran out the last 3:50

Key Matchup: RB Kareem Hunt v. MLB Anthony Hitchens. Hunt leads the NFL in rushing with 763 yards and a 5.2 average per carry. He also leads the league in runs of 10 yards or more (21), 20 yards or more (8) and 50 yards or more (3). As the middle linebacker, Hitchens’ job is to play the run and stop the opponent from running wild. The Cowboys have allowed three 100-yard rushers this season and they are 0-3 in those games. There’s no reason to think they’ll beat Kansas City if they allow a 100-yard rusher.

Hitchens can play sideline-to-sideline and he’s a strong tackler in the hole.

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X Factor: Ryan Switzer was drafted to be a play-maker, a guy who could make a play that could change the game like Lance Dunbar or Lucky Whitehead occasionally did. Laugh if you want, but he hasn’t been as good as Whitehead thus far. Switzer, averaging 7.3 on 11 punt returns, has a long of 21 yards yards this season, but there have been more  comments recently about his lack of judgment on returns than his big plays. He has three carries for nine yards and two catches for nine yards this season. He’s returned eight kickoffs for 21.8 average. This is great week to make an impact

Key Stat: Alex Smith has a 121.1 passer rating in the first quarter with 494 yards and five touchdowns. He comes out the gate throwing the ball, an indication he likes the game plan and the Chiefs do a good job figuring out how to attack the opposition. It’s Smith’s highest rating in any quarter and tied for most TD passes in any quarter. Kansas City leads the NFL with 54 first-quarter points, the most they’ve scored in any quarter. The Cowboys better be ready to play in the first quarter.

Game Plan: The Cowboys didn’t expect to have Ezekiel Elliott this season, so they will have a huge emotional boost from having one of the NFL’s best players back in the lineup. The best way to keep the Chiefs’ offense off the field is to dominate at the point of attack by having Elliott run over the league’s 28th-ranked run defense. Elliott carried a career-high 33 times last week, and he’s going to get the ball early and often against the Chiefs.

This could also give Alfred Morris every opportunity to prove he can handle the load as the starter. He can be in good shape, but it’ll be interesting to see how he holds up in the second half because they Cowboys will try hard to establish their identity as a power running team whether Ezekiel Elliott is in the lineup or not.

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