Dallas Cowboys (1-0) at Kansas City Chiefs (1-0)
After forcing just 16 takeaways last season, the Cowboys forced 6 against the Giants week 1. They won’t do that every week, but it’s just another sign that takeaways are very inconsistent on a year to year basis. They’re also very inconsistent on a week-to-week basis unfortunately for the Cowboys as teams who win the turnover battle by 5 have a turnover margin of -0.4 the following week on average. Their secondary will have to play better next week, but the good news is that injury filler starters Nick Hayden and George Selvie dominated in their first career start. So much for them having no depth. Once Jay Ratliff and Anthony Spencer return, they could have a loaded front. Spencer is expected back this week, though probably in a limited fashion.
Kansas City, meanwhile, apparently really impressed the odds makers last week with their 28-2 win in Jacksonville as this line has shifted from PK to -3 in one week, despite the Cowboys’ strong showing. They certainly looked good last week and I picked them to make the playoffs at the beginning of the season. They have a lot of talent around the quarterback, especially if Dontari Poe keeps this up, and Alex Smith and Andy Reid are infinitely better than Romeo Crennel and Brady Quinn and will stabilize a turnover margin that was a league worst -24 last season. However, we’ve lost all line value with the Chiefs. I also don’t think the Chiefs are the type of team, with Alex Smith under center, capable of beating high quality teams. They have an easy schedule, but this is not one of their easy games.
The Cowboys were one of my pre-season underrated teams too, because of their overall talent level, their new defensive system, and the fact that they wouldn’t be nearly as bad in turnover margin as last season. They won’t win the turnover battle by 5 this week, but they might not need to do so to win here in Kansas City. I don’t think these two teams are equal, as this line suggests. The NFC is just so much better than the AFC. Over the past 2 seasons, the AFC is 6-17 ATS as favorites against the NFC. I’m not going to put anything on it, in case the Cowboys’ can’t fix their secondary problems, but the Cowboys should be the right side.
Dallas Cowboys 17 Kansas City Chiefs 16 Upset Pick +135
Pick against spread: Dallas +3