CHIEFS (6-2) VS. COWBOYS (4-3)
SUNDAY, 4:25 P.M. ET, AT&T STADIUM, ARLINGTON, TEXAS uTV: CBS, DIRECTV 714
About the Chiefs: The Chiefs are among the AFC’s elite thanks to their top-five offense. The catalyst is QB Alex Smith, in the midst of unquestionably the best season of his 13-year career. After years as a “bus driver” quarterback, he’s making plays down the field, ranking second behind Brady in passing yards with 2,181.
About the Cowboys: After a shaky start, Dallas is coming off a road victory over Washington. The Cowboys have won two in a row for the first time this season, and they’re doing it the way they won 11 in a row in 2016 — dominating the clock with the run game and getting enough defense. However, the six-game suspension over domestic violence allegations against RB Ezekiel Elliott was set to go into effect at press time. Elliott has topped 100 rushing yards in his last three games. Darren
McFadden and Alfred Morris figure to fill in for him.
Matchup to watch: Chiefs TE Travis Kelce vs. Cowboys FS Byron Jones. At 6-5, 260 pounds, Kelce has prototypical tight end size, but he adds the big-play ability of a wide receiver. The veteran put together a 133-yard receiving effort against Denver in Week 8, his third-100 yard game of the season. He has one other with 98 yards. Jones’ play has been up and down, but he has the athleticism to provide a challenge for Kelce down the middle of the field. Player to watch: Cowboys WR Dez Bryant. He’s become hard to spot in the Dallas offense. The same guy who posted three consecutive seasons of 1,200-plus yards and double-digit touchdowns has now gone 14 consecutive games without reaching 100 yards. He’s averaged less than 10 yards per catch in four of his last six games.
Number crunching: 1. Kansas City is an impressive +10 in turnover margin, but it isn’t because its defense is making big plays. In fact, five of its 13 takeaways came in Week 8. It’s because the Chiefs have turned the ball over only three times this season. That record will be tested by a Dallas defense that has suddenly begun forcing turnovers — four by the defense and two by special teams in the last two games — after going more than a month without a takeaway. KEYS TO THE GAME 1. Replace Elliott: Stopping the run is imperative against Dallas with in the backfield, and without him the Chiefs get a break. The Chiefs rank near the bottom of the league against the run. That’s problematic against against most teams, but perhaps not Dallas anymore. 2. Control the clock: RB Kareem Hunt leads the league in rushing (763 yards,). But winning the time of possession battle will be tough against the Cowboys, who have topped 32:00 in each of their last three games.
3. No big plays: While the Chiefs can chew up clock with the run, they can also score quickly with it, having reeled off a league-high 10 runs of 20 or more yards — eight by Hunt entering the week — and three of 40 or more, all by Hunt. Kansas City also has the gamebreaking WR-PR Tyreek Hill and Kelce. LB
Sean Lee, CB Orlando Scandrick and the rest of Dallas defense have a tough task.
4. Get to Smith: Dallas DE DeMarcus Lawrence and DT David Irving have emerged as the NFL’s premier pass-rush duo. Lawrence leads the league with 10½ sacks, and he has at least one sack in every game this season. Irving had two sacks last week to give him five in his three games since returning from a PED suspension. They’ll try to put the heat on K.C.’s Smith, a strong runner with the ability to escape trouble and extend plays.
Cowboys’ Dez Bryant SERGIO ESTRADA, USA TODAY SPORTS