You may hear the cliché that Sunday's matchup between Dallas and Kansas City is a potential Super Bowl preview. Both teams certainly have lofty expectations for how their season should end, but they have taken different paths thus far.
Dallas (7-2) bounced back from a head-scratching, 30-16 home loss in Week 9 to Denver to thump the Falcons 43-3 last Sunday. The Cowboys racked up 431 yards with Dak Prescott throwing for 296 and two touchdowns. The defense held Atlanta to 214 yards and 11 first downs with three turnovers. There even was a blocked punt that resulted in a touchdown. It was without question Dallas' best overall effort this season.
Kansas City (6-4) also was impressive last Sunday, dominating Las Vegas 41-14 on "Sunday Night Football." The Chiefs looked more like what most were expecting entering this season, with Patrick Mahomes throwing for 406 yards and five touchdowns. The defense was fantastic as well, forcing two turnovers and holding the Raiders to 299 total yards.
Dallas (7-2) at Kansas City (6-4)
Kickoff: Sunday, Nov. 21 at 4:25 p.m. ET
Spread: Chiefs -2.5
Three Things to Watch
Dallas' previous two games were at home, but this team has already won on the road against the Chargers, Patriots, and Vikings, so don't expect the Cowboys to crumble in Arrowhead Stadium. They do have a short turnaround to host Las Vegas on Thanksgiving Day, but that won't impact how Dallas prepares for Kansas City. The Cowboys also are relatively healthy with left tackle Tyron Smith (ankle) the biggest injury concern. He's missed the last two games and remains limited in practice. However, the team announced on Friday that wide receiver Amari Cooper tested positive for COVID-19. He was placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list will miss Sunday's game and may not be cleared in time for the Thanksgiving Day matchup wtih Las Vegas either.
Kansas City is looking to maintain its hot stretch before going on bye. The Chiefs are just 3-2 at home this season but normally play very well in raucous Arrowhead. They have a few more injury concerns, but are getting Clyde-Edwards Helaire back in the lineup. He's been on injured reserve after suffering an MCL sprain in Week 5 but was activated on Saturday. Darrel Williams has been handling the bulk of the work in CHE's absence, and he was particularly impressive against Las Vegas. Williams totaled 144 yards from scrimmage, 101 of those receiving. He also showed off his athleticism and body control on a 38-yard touchdown catch early in the fourth quarter. It will be interesting to see how the touches are distributed between the two.
2. Defense defense defense
Neither of these two teams is known exactly for their defense, yet last week both units were fantastic. On paper, Dallas is statistically better, ranking 15th in yards allowed per game (354.0) vs. 26th for Kansas City (373.2). Both also have struggled against the pass, which bodes well for Prescott and Mahomes. Last week, the Cowboys held Atlanta to 214 yards, thanks to a 1-for-11 showing on third down, and picked off three passes. The Chiefs limited Las Vegas to 299 yards, only 1-of-9 third-down conversions, and 50 rushing yards while forcing two turnovers. It will be interesting to see if either defense can maintain this level of performance on Sunday considering the caliber of both offenses.
3. Ezekiel Elliott
Following a disappointing 2020 season, Elliott got off to a strong start, including a three-week stretch where he ran for 348 yards. However, he's not been as productive recently, posting three straight games with 50 or fewer rushing yards. Elliott's drop has coincided with Prescott's calf injury and also affected the entire offense. Prior to last week's 43-point outburst, the Cowboys had managed a total of 36 points in their first two games after the Week 7 bye. If the aforementioned Smith is able to return, that could give the offensive line a nice boost. But Elliott and backfield mate Tony Pollard (445 yds., 5.4 ypc) need to get back to their running ways, especially against a Kansas City that's giving up 115 yards per game on the ground.
This is going to be a fun one, as both teams are in good form. As mentioned earlier, the defenses will struggle to slow the other team down, so it could be one of those contests where the team with the ball last pulls it out. Kansas City played really well last week, and I think that momentum carries into this one. The Chiefs win a close one at home on Sunday.
Prediction: Chiefs 34, Cowboys 31
— Written by Matt Josephs, who is a part of the Athlon Sports Contributor Network. Follow him on Twitter @MidMajorMatt.