The Dallas Cowboys and Denver Broncos both opened the 2017 NFL season with big home wins against division rivals. In Week 2, the two teams will face off in one of Sunday’s premier matchups.

The latest betting odds favor the visiting Cowboys, who are giving the Broncos two points, via OddsShark, and the over/under is 43. Here is a closer look at the Week 2 game, as well as a prediction against the spread:

Why the Cowboys could cover the spread

It’s only been one week, but Dallas looks like the same team that led the NFC with 13 wins a year ago. Ezekiel Elliott had over 100 rushing yards in the Cowboys’ 19-3 victory over the New York Giants, and Dak Prescott posted a more than respectable 90.5 passer rating against an elite pass defense.

Denver’s pass defense is one of the few can compete with New York’s. They’ve got maybe the NFL’s most dynamic pass rusher in Von Miller and a secondary that’s consistently among the game’s best. Dallas’ offensive line will be tested, but there’s no doubt that they’re up for the challenge.

The Cowboys’ offensive line might be the league’s top unit. They open up running lanes for Elliott and give Prescott plenty of time in the pocket. If Dallas can negate the Broncos’ greatest strength, it’s going to put pressure on Trevor Siemian and Denver’s offense. The quarterback made good throws Monday night when he was given enough time, but the Broncos are in trouble if they’re relying on big plays out of him. Prescott, on the other hand, might be the most underrated quarterback in the league.

It’s difficult to judge Dallas’ defense based on Week 1. Was New York’s defensive line just that bad or did the revamped Cowboys’ secondary also do a great job in coverage? At least some of the credit has to go to the Dallas defense, which was also dominant against a weak Giants’ running game. No one gave up fewer yards on the ground than the Cowboys in 2016, and they could make life difficult for C.J. Anderson and Jamaal Charles.

Dallas is simply the better team with a far superior quarterback, running back and offensive line. They’ve got a good chance to leave Denver with a victory.

Why the Broncos could cover the spread

Denver did their best to show in the season opener that the AFC West won’t just be a two-team race between the Oakland Raiders and Kansas City Chiefs. The Broncos were dominant for a large part of their 24-21 win over the Los Angeles Chargers, only allowing the game to become close because of two fourth-quarter turnovers.

Anyone expecting Denver’s defense to take a step back in 2017 could be proven wrong pretty quickly. The unit looked just as good without defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, holding Philip Rivers to less than 200 passing yards. Chargers’ running back Melvin Gordon was held to just 54 yards on 18 carries.

Having a respectable run defense will be crucial to Denver’s chances against Dallas. If the defense performs like it did a year ago and Elliott runs wild, the Broncos will have their first loss of the season. Keeping Elliott in check, however, would completely change the complexion of Sunday’s contest.

Siemian can keep Denver in the game if he avoids making mistakes. That might not be too much to ask of a quarterback that was only picked off 10 times in 2016 against a defense that ranked in the bottom half of the league in takeaways.

The Broncos don’t have as much talent as the Cowboys, but are they really eight points worse on a neutral field like the betting line indicates?


The game should ultimately come down to a battle of Dallas’ offensive line and Denver’s defensive front. The Broncos can steal this one if they are able to get to Prescott in the way that they put pressure on Rivers in Week 1 and most of the quarterbacks they’ve faced in the last few years.

The Cowboys’ offensive line is just too reliable to bet against. Add in the fact that Dallas has one of the NFL’s best quarterbacks and you get a big win for the defending NFC East champs on the road.

Dallas over Denver, 24-20