Denver comes in hotter than any team in the league, having scored 179 points in the first four games of the year. The Cowboys, on the other hand, are 2-2 and trying to recover from a brutal loss against the San Diego Chargers. In that game, Dallas gave up 20 unanswered points and lost, 30-21.
Dallas is lucky to be in the brutal NFC East, which it leads by a full game over the Philadelphia Eagles and Washington Redskins. The Broncos are tied with the surprising Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC West.
Meet the Broncos
Denver has been steamrolling all of its opponents up to this point in the young season. Through a quarter of the campaign, the Broncos have outscored the opposition by 88 points, the largest margin in the NFL. Peyton Manning has been the main reason for such utter domination, throwing 16 touchdowns against zero interceptions.
Manning has a bevy of options, the most prolific being Demaryius Thomas, who already has 393 yards and four scores. Eric Decker and Wes Welker have 340 and 266 receiving yards respectively, with Welker contributing a team-high six touchdowns.
On defense, Denver is not the same type of incredible. In fact, the defense is a rather ordinary unit. Against the pass, the Broncos rank 22nd in passing yards per attempt against at 7.7 and 30th in passing yards against overall. Versus the run, John Fox's group is stout, giving up the fewest rushing yards (74.0) of any team per game.
Meet the Cowboys
Dallas is one of the hardest teams to figure out in the NFL. On one hand, the Cowboys are one of the more talented squads going. Between Tony Romo, Miles Austin, Jason Witten, Dez Bryant, DeMarco Murray and Tyron Smith, the offense seems like it should be a force. Yet, they rank 19th on offense and a surprisingly bad 21st in passing yardage.
On defense, the Cowboys sport Sean Lee, Brandon Carr, Jay Ratliff and DeMarcus Ware, among others. Still, the unit comes in at 20th in yards against and 27th against the pass, allowing 304.5 yards per game. All of this would make you believe the coaching is the issue, and that very well could be.
Jason Garrett has seemingly been on the hot seat since Day 1, and may still be throughout 2013. If the Cowboys fail to make the playoffs in such a weak division, it seems Garrett could be on the chopping block after what would be a third year of missing the playoffs under his watch. Without question, the pressure is on the former backup quarterback.
Local take: Denver
Over at Mile High Report, some are feeling pretty good about the potential of going undefeated:
It isn't often that you see a franchise field a team as potent as our Broncos. I've seen two Broncos teams capable of domination in my lifetime. What we have is something special. If we have a shot at it, I say we embrace that march toward history. Why simply be just another great team when you can be the greatest team of all time?
Local take: Dallas
Tom Ryle of Blogging The Boys talks about the need for Dallas to run the ball in this contest:
More than any of the other keys he had, this is one that the Cowboys have the most ability to control themselves. They don't have to worry as much about what the other guys do, but need to get their own assignments executed. If you want to keep the elder Manning brother from running away with the game, don't let him have the football. This is a time for some good old-fashioned ball control.
Follow the Fun
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MRI results on linebacker Danny Trevathan's knee came back negative on Wednesday:... http://t.co/zXxonTTje6— MileHighReport (@MileHighReport) October 2, 2013
Broncos believe LB Danny Trevathan will be able to play Sunday against Dallas.— Mike Klis (@MikeKlis) October 2, 2013
Cowboys have beaten Peyton Manning the last 2x they faced him with an INT for a TD each time -- Kevin Burnett in 2006 & Scandrick in 2010— Rick Gosselin (@RickGosselinDMN) October 2, 2013
Dallas always has a tendency to be horrendous against teams it should crush, and then beat teams if has no business beating. The Cowboys will be at home in front of a hostile crows anticipating the worst, and surely won't get it because, well, it's the Cowboys. It would be so Dallas for Romo and the boys to win this game and then lose by 30 versus Washington next week. Manning will still throw for 400 yards and four touchdowns, but this time it is not enough as the way of the Cowboys is overwhelming.
Pick: Cowboys 35, Broncos 31
The Broncos are favored by 8.5 points on the road, according to Oddsshark.com.
Dallas will host Washington, and the Broncos will return home to face the Jacksonville Jaguars. The spread is expected to be -47.