With Week 1 in the books, NFL teams are looking towards their next opponents. The Los Angeles Chargers survived a slugfest with the Washington Football Team, coming out on top at 20-16. The Dallas Cowboys, on the other hand, lost their slugfest with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 31-29. Each of these teams is going into Week 2 in differing positions, but both teams share one thing in common: how they plan to utilize their potent offenses.
The Cowboys have one of the most lethal offenses in the league under star quarterback Dak Prescott. With Ezekiel Elliot at running back, their offense is a nightmare for NFL defensive coordinators. Meanwhile, the Chargers have Justin Herbert at quarterback, who put up the best rookie passing season ever. With Austin Ekeler at running back, the Chargers passing game is no slouch either.
So how will these two teams fare against each other? Are there any interesting storylines to be aware of? This is the Chargers-Cowboys NFL Week 2 preview.
Zeke vs. Joey – From College Teammates to NFL Opponents
In a recent interview, Chargers linebacker Joey Bosa said, “Last time we played against each other was in practice [at Ohio State] and we didn’t take it easy on each other then, so I’m sure we won’t this weekend.” As former roommates at Ohio State, Bosa and Zeke (Ezekiel Elliott) were close friends. In 2014, Bosa and Zeke won a college football championship together, where they defied all odds and beat number 1 seed Alabama in the semifinals, then number 2 seed Oregon in the championship. It truly was like a fairy tale for that 2014 Buckeyes team, and that team itself produced numerous future NFL players. Along with Bosa and Zeke, that team had cornerbacks Eli Apple and Gareon Conley, wide receiver Michael Thomas, guard Pat Elflein, and running back Curtis Samuel (who switched to wide receiver after entering the NFL).
And now, Zeke and Bosa face each other as enemies. Though their teams have played each other in the past, neither team was truly playoff contenders. In 2017, when the teams last faced off, the Chargers destroyed the Cowboys 28-6. However, Zeke was not healthy at the time, so this is the first time that the former roommates faced off. It will be interesting to see whether Bosa will be able to hold off Zeke’s relentless advance or not.
Players to Watch
The Chargers and Cowboys each have players that will play pivotal roles in who wins the matchup. Here are the players to watch on Sunday.
Keenan Allen and Mike Williams. Keenan Allen and Mike Williams will play a crucial role in how the Chargers fare against the Cowboys. Since the Cowboys’ offense is far more potent than Washington’s, the Chargers’ defense will not be able to hold off for as long as last week. Therefore, the Chargers wide receivers absolutely cannot have a first-half performance like last week, where they were dropping passes left and right. They will need to play at their best from the start and keep the same pressure throughout the game. If they let up even a little bit, the Cowboys’ offense will likely run away with the game.
- Joey Bosa and Uchenna Nwosu. Nwosu and Bosa will have their hands full against the Cowboys’ passing attack. Dak Prescott is an elite starting quarterback, and will likely not have any trouble picking apart the Chargers secondary. Even with star safety Derwin James back there, the Cowboys receivers are extremely talented as well, so he will have his hands full. Therefore, it is up to Bosa and Nwosu to pressure Prescott and force him to make bad throws, giving the secondary a fighting chance. Not to mention, Cowboys’ starting tackle La’el Collins was suspended this week for substance abuse violations, so either Bosa or Nwosu should have a strong chance to dominate.
- Dak Prescott. This one should come as no surprise. The Cowboys’ chance for success will be entirely hinged on Prescott’s performance on Sunday. It cannot be understated how important he is for the Cowboys’ success. In 2020, the Cowboys were 4-7 after Dak’s horrific ankle injury. Three of those four wins came against teams that were already in tank mode (Bengals, 49ers, Eagles), and their seven losses were, for the most part, blowouts. Prescott’s ability to perform and stay healthy will be critical for the Cowboys to even have a chance against the Chargers.
- Trevon Diggs. It’s time to call it like it is: Diggs is an elite cornerback. Lining up against Mike Evans in Tampa Bay, Diggs was targeted five times and allowed only one reception. Along with that, Diggs also had an interception off the legendary Tom Brady, along with a single tackle. It is unclear whether Diggs will line up against the shifty Keenan Allen or the big-play Mike Williams, but whoever he lines up against will likely see very limited production. His performance against either of the Chargers’ receivers will be pivotal in providing an obstacle for the potent Chargers offense.
As can be seen from all that has been said, this game is sure to be a shootout. Aside from Diggs, the Cowboys’ defense is relatively lackluster, so the Chargers’ high-powered offense will likely feast against them. However, Dak and Co. will surely be able to match their pace, alongside star wide receiver Amari Cooper. After all, they were able to keep up with Tampa Bay, who has one of the best defenses in the league. The Chargers defense is improving under head coach Brandon Staley, but it’s not yet at a point where it can match or surpass Tampa Bay. It will surely be a close game, as many predict, but my prediction is that the Chargers pull away with the win 35-30. This was the Chargers-Cowboys NFL Week 2 preview.