Week 9 Tale Of The Tape: Kansas City Chiefs At Dallas Cowboys
- QuarterbackAlex Smith has been a very solid quarterback for the Chiefs this season, rising above a previous level when he seemed content to hand the ball of and throw short- and medium-range passes. Smith is throwing more downfield passes this season and big plays have been the frequent result. Smith will not turn the ball over and he excels at finding the soft spot in the defense.The Cowboys have perhaps the best young leader in the game today in Dak Prescott, and he plays with a maturity level far beyond that of the ordinary second-year quarterback. The Cowboys count on him to make key plays at clutch moments, and he is never overwhelmed by the task put in front of him. Prescott is completing 62.8 percent of his passes this season with a 14-4 TD-interception ratio.
- OffenseThe Chiefs have slowed down a bit after an explosive start, but they are still a dangerous team with the versatility to make big plays on the ground or through the air. Kareem Hunt has turned into an explosive runner as a rookie, and he is also a dangerous receiver. WR Tyreek Hill may be the fastest player in the league. TE Travis Kelce (foot) is a big-play maker, but his status has not been determined.The Cowboys are hoping they can continue to play with Ezekiel Elliott as their No. 1 running back, but his suspension has been reinstated and he may not be able to play this week. WR Dez Bryant has caught 32 passes for 366 yards and four touchdowns, but the Cowboys need more consistency from him. TE Jason Witten remains the most reliable Dallas wideout.
- DefenseThe Chiefs will make some big plays on defense, including the 45-yard fumble return for a touchdown by Marcus Peters in the Week Eight Monday night game against the Broncos. However, the Chiefs have been vulnerable defensively and rank 30th in yards allowed. Justin Houston is an outstanding pass rusher with 7.5 sacks this season.The Cowboys are one of the most dangerous defensive teams in the league, as the combination of Demarcus Lawrence (10.5 sacks) and David Irving (5.0 sacks) can cause overwhelming havoc with the pass rush. OLB Jaylon Smith is doing a solid job against the run and he leads the team with 47 tackles, while FS Byron Jones is regularly around the ball in the secondary.
- Special TeamsThe Chiefs are dangerous on special teams as the explosive Hill can make big plays as a punt return. The Chiefs do an adequate job in the return game and will not allow big plays by opposing return men. PK Harrison Butker has been a key addition since replacing Cairo SantosThe Cowboys will be challenged to keep Hill in check, and that will be a difficult assignment. Ryan Switzer is just ordinary in the return game. PK Mike Nugent has replaced the injured Dan Bailey, and he has made 4-of-5 FG attempts.
This is a match-up between two solid teams with strong postseason aspirations. The Chiefs will have an edge if Elliott can’t play, but Dallas is the stronger defensive team.