The last 5 meetings between these two storied franchises have all ended in Denver victories. The most recent meeting was a 51-48 shootout in Big D between Tony Romo and Peyton Manning – oh how so much can chance in just 4 years in the NFL. The Dallas Cowboys have not beaten the Denver Broncos since 1995 and their last win in Mile High was 1992. Listed below is our preview for Cowboys @ Broncos, week 2. Here are the key areas where the game will likely be won or lost for both teams:
1) Stopping Dallas’ run game
Despite losing coach Wade Philips and prolific pass rusher DeMarcus Ware this past off season the Broncos still possess a top tier defense, led by All Pro Von Miller and backed up with one of the stingiest secondaries in football. The Dallas front 5 has seen changes of its own, yet still managed to open holes for Ezekiel Elliott and keep Dak Prescott well protected against the New York Giants in Week 1. The Cowboys entire offense revolves around being able to dominate opponents at the line of scrimmage and imposing their will through the running game. This forces teams to bring their safeties into the box giving Dallas’ receivers 1-on-1 match ups and opening up play action and the rest of the playbook for Prescott.
2) Dallas offense in the “No Fly Zone”
The Broncos run a 3-4 scheme, meaning they will almost certainly drop a safety into the box to account for Elliot and leave corners Aqib Talib and Chris Harris Jr in single coverage outside.
Talib will see plenty of Dez Bryant, and his physical style could be all it takes to frustrate the Dallas receiver and limit how often Prescott targets him. However if Denver double or even triple cover Bryant, the Cowboys passing attack could catch fire and put the Broncos in a hole. Yet there is a reason the Broncos secondary are called the ‘No Fly Zone’. Chris Harris Jr is an excellent no.2 corner (who would be a no.1 on most teams) while Bradley Roby is an excellent nickel option who should smother Cole Beasley off the line. It’s going to be fun how the Broncos secondary handle Dallas’ passing attack and whether they will force the Cowboys to be one conventional and run the ball 35+ times.
3) Denver offensive balance
Jamaal Charles and CJ Anderson will look to serve as a two headed monster in the Broncos backfield. The Cowboys will look to middle linebacker Sean Lee, and LB Jaylon Smith to lead the charge and fly around the field as they look to shut down gains on the ground and screen plays to the flat.
With Orlando Scandrick ruled out for possibly 2 weeks with a hand injury, Rod Marinelli’s defense will have to adjust to keep Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders in check. Quarterback Trevor Siemian cannot rely on his offensive line to give him the same sort of protection his opposite number Prescott will enjoy, but if the Denvers rushing attack can replicate the level of effectiveness it found against the Chargers in week 1 – this should help ease Siemian’s task on Sunday. Striking the right balance on offense will be a big challenge for Denver against the Cowboys.
4) Deciding factors
If Dallas establishes the run with the same authority, and run as many plays at the same high tempo pace as they did against the Giants (50 in the first half alone), then this could get beyond the Broncos early. Siemian will need to pass the ball in order to keep Denver in the game, and his offensive line could then have its fragility exposed.
On the other hand, should the crowd noise come into play and effect Dak and his offensive line – Von Miller could be well on the way to equaling his average of 12 sacks a season. If Denver get ahead early, Dallas will have leave to leave the run game and face a sterner test of throwing early and often against the No Fly Zone.
Conclusion – Cowboys @ Broncos Preview
Whichever team can impose their will on the game with the most authority will likely come out on top. The contest in the trenches will likely decide the outcome of this one. Both teams will rely on their rushing attack to stay in touch, and allow their respective quarterbacks to be effective. This one could go score for score, and the smallest mismatch might be all it takes for either team to go 2-0. This looks set to be a classic in Mile High!
Cowboys @ Broncos Preview.