Two things figure to be true of Sunday’s Cowboys-Chiefs game at Arrowhead Stadium:
— It should be a shootout.
— It should tell us a lot about both teams going forward.
Each of these teams is looking to validate itself as the team each believes it is — in both cases among the best in the league.
Who are the Cowboys?
The team that was trampled by the Broncos 30-16 at home two weeks ago? Or the team that dismantled the Falcons 43-3 last Sunday?
Who are the Chiefs?
Are they the “broken” team that scored just 36 combined points across three games recently? Or are they the team that has gone to the past two Super Bowls (winning one) and the one that routed the Raiders last week, 41-14 — a win that gave them a half-game lead in the AFC West?
A Cowboys win Sunday would give them an 8-2 record and almost assure them of winning the NFC East, which they lead by a commanding 3 ¹/₂ games. It, too, would be a quality win that would stamp them as possibly the best team in the NFC.
“We weren’t ourselves [in the Denver game],’’ Cowboys receiver CeeDee Lamb told reporters after the win against Atlanta.
Against Denver, Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott completed just 48.7 percent of his passes. Against Atlanta, he completed 77 percent, threw two touchdown passes and ran for another.
Against Denver, the Cowboys defense allowed 190 rushing yards to the Broncos, who were 8-of-15 on third-down conversions. Against Atlanta, the Dallas defense held the Falcons to three points and one third-down conversion in 11 tries, while Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan threw for just 117 yards.
Those numbers suggest the loss to the Broncos was an aberration for a Cowboys team that entered that game having won six in a row.
“We’re just trying to get better and take it game by game, and when you’re in the game, play by play,” Prescott said. “I think when we do that, we’re capable of accomplishing whatever we want. We’re not going to get overconfident again. That’s what a game like [Denver] does for you _ it leaves that taste in your mouth and keeps you humble.’’
A Chiefs win, particularly one in which quarterback Patrick Mahomes and the offense plays well, would validate that they’re back in rhythm and perhaps ready to seize control of the division.
Mahomes, who threw for 406 yards and five TDs in the win over the Raiders, told reporters he felt it was merely a matter of time before the Chiefs regained their offensive mojo.
“We’ve done it before,” Mahomes said. “We’ve done it these last few seasons. We were doing it at the beginning of this season. We were moving the ball, we were making a lot of stuff happen.”
The 36 points in three games — though two of those were in victories — had led to some panic among Kansas City observers.
“I knew we were going to click back into it,” Mahomes said. “I’ve been saying that for weeks. We were going to find it.”
With the Chiefs offense appearing to be back on track and the Cowboys averaging 31.6 points per game, the most in the NFL, this has the makings of a shootout.
Defensively, the Cowboys are allowing 21.7 points per game, which ranks 10th in the league. Opposing quarterbacks have an 82.7 rating against Dallas, the fourth-lowest.
Dallas is tied for sixth in the NFL in turnover margin (plus-5) thanks in large part to an NFC-best 14 interceptions — which is thanks in large part to cornerback Trevon Diggs, who leads the NFL with eight of them. Digg, too, leads the league in interception return yards with 142 and INT returns for TDs with two.
The Kansas City defense has actually carried the Chiefs during the offensive struggles. In the past five games, the Chiefs have allowed more than 17 points only once.
“Don’t let that get overlooked, how the defense is playing,” Mahomes said. “That’s going to make us a great football team.”
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