Friday, August 17, 2012

Dallas Cowboys vs San Diego Chargers: SD -1.5 1st Half (5Dimes)

Coaches

Norv Turner has a long history as a head coach so it shouldn't be too hard to figure out his approach in the preseason. That is of course until you look at his NFLX record. Over his entire career he is hovering right around the .500 mark and that trend stays true for his time in San Diego too. This means we have to pick our spots and this week is one of those opportunities.

Jason Garrett hasn't been a head coach very long and holds a 2-2 record SU and ATS.  If you've followed the quotes coming out of Dallas camp this week you'll find some inconsistencies about playing time - primarily between Garrett and owner Jerry Jones.

Quarterbacks

When asked about the injuries on the O-line, Jerry Jones told ESPNDallas.com that Romo will get roughly the same amount of limited time under center as last week - around 10-12 plays.  However, the same day the Star-Telegram.com quoted Garrett as saying the starters playing time will "get inched up a little bit" from Week 1.  He went on to say the same applies for the defense.

Whatever the case is, one thing is sure - the Cowboys have a handful of starters at key positions on the mend and quality depth isn't their strong suit.  "Proceed with caution" is the theme of the day, which sounds very similar to what came out of Packers camp this week.  The Cowboys have high expectations and don't seem too eager to mess around in exhibition play to risk further damage to their starting lineup.  Look for Kyle Orton to enter the fray in the first half to absorb a fair share of the bullets.

The news is a little rosier on the Chargers front. Philip Rivers is expected to get more snaps than the four series he saw in Week 1 vs the Packers.  Antonio Gates has looked great in camp and made his first appearance in the end zone last week, so don't be shocked if these two hook up for more scoring again vs a Cowboys defense that won't have much depth at inside linebacker.

Mopping up the first half will be Charlie Whitehurst.  He's back after being sidelined by a knee injury and should be a nice upgrade over temporary fill-in Kevin O'Connell.  Whitehurst knows his role and is more than capable of moving the chains.  He is officially listed as "questionable" on the injury list, but all indications are that he'll be playing.  If not, the Chargers are high on Jarrett Lee who had a nice performance in Week 1 vs the Packers.

Walking Wounded

When you look around the league and see what all the "analysts" and scouts are saying about the Cowboys you see the same tagline - fantastic starters across the board, but very thin talent in reserve.

On offense, Miles Austin, Jason Witten, Phil Costa, Kevin Kowalski, and Nate Livings are out. Bill Nagy was waived, which leaves them thin at the center position.

Defensively, the Cowboys will be without Anthony Spencer and DeMarcus Ware. Morris Claiborne is expected to debut, but it's unsure for how long or if he'll start.

Add it all up and you have some shaky protection issues for Romo and depleted receiving options in the air. The Chargers offense will appreciate the fact that they won't have to face Ware and his absence should make life easier in the first half.

San Diego have a few key injuries of their own, but not to the same extent as the Cowboys. Ryan "I'm Made of Glass" Mathews is out with a broken clavicle, Eddie Royal is out with a leg injury, and LT Jared Gaither continues to deal with back issues. Of most importance is the Gaither injury, so all eyes will be on Rivers blindside for a second week in a row. He had a nice first game in Week 1.

Pick

I like the mismatch on paper when the starters are in there. Melvin Ingram and the rest of the Chargers first-team defense will have opportunities to make some big plays.  I like the matchup even more once the Cowboys starters take to the sidelines.

NFL Pick: SD -1.5 1st Half

The rest of my Week 2 predictions are here, or you can find all my 2012 predictions on the home page main menu.