NFL Preseason Picks Week 2: Dallas Cowboys vs. San Diego Chargers: August 18th 2012
Week 2 NFL Preseason Picks: August 18th 2012
Dallas Cowboys vs. San Diego Chargers
Current line: San Diego (-3/37)
Dallas visits Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego to take on the Chargers at 9pmET on Saturday night. San Diego defeated Dallas on the road last year, 20-7, getting 1. The Cowboys Dallas is coming off a 3-0 win over Oakland on Monday night, getting 1, while San Diego defeated Green Bay, 21-13 on Thursday, giving 2.5.
Weather: 71 degrees and 10% chance of rain.
The Cowboys are coming off an 8-8 SU season, they were 7-9 ATS and 6-10 Under. Last year, they went 1-3 ATS in the preseason. Jason Garrett is 2-2 SU, 2-2 ATS and 1-3 Under in preseason. San Diego is coming off a 8-8 SU, 6-10 ATS and 8-8 O/U. Last year, they went 1-2-1 ATS in the preseason while Norv Turner (SD, Oakland, Wash) is 33-31 SU, 26-32-6 ATS and 25-31 Under in preseason.
The Cowboys are coming off a disappointing 8-8 season, so the pressure is now on coach Jason Garrett and QB Tony Romo. The offense wasn’t a major issue last year as they were 7th in passing but just 18th in rushing (112.9ypg). DeMarco Murray appeared to be the answer at RB but faded down the stretch. Miles Austin and Dez Bryant, assuming he gets act together, are a strong duo. The defense allowed 244.1ypg in the air. They picked up SS Brodney Pool and CB Brandon Carr. They also drafted CB Morris Claiborne from LSU, who has been hampered by an MCL injury in camp. They still have one of the best outside linebackers in the game (19.5 sacks) last year.
The biggest development in Dallas’ otherwise-uneventful 3-0 victory at Oakland this past Monday was the serious injury sustained by Cowboys’ tight end Jason Witten. The seven-time Pro Bowl selection lacerated his spleen after taking a hard hit from Raiders linebacker Rolando McClain in the first quarter, rendering him out for the rest of the club’s exhibition slate and putting his status for the Sept. 5 regular-season opener against the rival New York Giants into question.
Witten, who hasn’t sat out a game since his rookie campaign of 2003, is prohibited from partaking in any physical activity for at least another week and could require surgery. His place will be taken by John Phillips in the interim, though the capable reserve just resumed practicing after missing time with an ankle sprain.
Tony Romo also saw limited action in Dallas’ snoozer with the Raiders, with the Cowboys’ signal-caller hitting on 3-of-6 attempts for 30 yards on a trio of series. He’ll once again be operating without wide receiver Miles Austin, who’ll be held out a second straight week with a hamstring strain, and behind an offensive line that again won’t have two regulars in center Phil Costa (strained back) and left guard Nate Livings (hamstring).
The Dallas defense was able to pitch a shutout against Oakland despite the absences of valued nose tackle Jay Ratliff (plantar fasciitis), outside linebacker Anthony Spencer (hamstring), end Jason Hatcher (groin) and highly touted rookie cornerback Morris Claiborne (sprained knee). Claiborne, the No. 6 overall pick in April’s draft, will suit up for his first outing as a Cowboy this weekend, however, with Hatcher expected back as well.
Dallas has prevailed in seven of the 13 all-time preseason bouts between these teams and came through with a 16-14 win in its last visit to San Diego, which took place in 2010. The Chargers exacted some revenge via a 20-7 triumph at Cowboys Stadium last August, though.
San Diego lost WR Vincent Jackson in free agency but did add LB Jarret Johnson and WR Robert Meacham. Expectations are not very high but QB Phillip Rivers has something to prove after a sub-par season for him.
San Diego’s 21-13 home triumph over the Green Bay Packers was also marred by the loss of running back Ryan Mathews for an extended period. The 1,000-yard rusher fractured his clavicle on his first carry of the night, an injury that will sideline him for the next 4-to-6 weeks.
The Chargers are hopeful that Mathews will be ready to go for their Week 1 matchup at Oakland, but will spend the remainder of the preseason prepping veteran Ronnie Brown and possibly Curtis Brinkley and fullback Le’Ron McClain for potential increased roles.
San Diego is also without starting left tackle Jared Gaither (back) and slot receiver Eddie Royal (groin) at the moment, while defensive lineman Antonio Garay likely won’t play in Saturday’s tilt after spraining his ankle in a recent practice.
Quarterback Philip Rivers is healthy and is in line for an increase in snaps after working only four possessions in the mistake-filled win over the Packers, in which the two combatants combined for seven turnovers. He ended one of those drives with a 23-yard touchdown pass to tight end Antonio Gates, but was also intercepted once and finished 3-of-5 for 37 yards.
Jarrett Lee took over for the remainder of the contest and completed 15-of-22 throws for 235 yards, including a 36-yard scoring strike to wide receiver Vincent Brown. The undrafted rookie won’t see as much time in this weekend’s game, however, with No. 2 quarterback Charlie Whitehurst back from a sprained knee that kept him out of the opener.
Brown ended with a game-high 81 yards on four catches, with Brinkley topping all players with 42 rushing yards and a touchdown on 11 carries.
Key Injuries: Dallas: TE Jason Witten (spleen) is out for the preseason. NT Jay Ratliff (rest), C Phil Costa (back), LB Anthony Spencer (ham), OLB DeMarcus Ware (ham), WR Miles Austin (ham) are ? San Diego: RB Ryan Mathews (collarbone) is out 4-6 weeks. WR Eddie Royal (groin) is dbtful. LT Jared Gaither (back) is dbtful.
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