The Dallas Cowboys began the 2014 NFL season with low expectations, as the team has been projected to finish last in the NFC East. They did little to prove the oddsmakers wrong when they lost to the San Francisco 49ers in their opener, and will look to pick up their first win of the year when they visit the Tennessee Titans in Week Two.
It’s hard to imagine that the season could have gotten off to a worse start for the Cowboys. They lost to the 49ers 28-17, but the final score isn’t indicative of how poorly the team played. The contest was a blow out by halftime, and Dallas never came close to coming back from their 28-3 deficit.
The biggest concern surrounding the Cowboys has been their defense, and the unit struggled right out of the gate. Colin Kaepernick had immediate success against the Dallas secondary, going 80 yards on just three plays on San Francisco’s first offensive possession.
"The No. 1 job is to play better than their defense, and we didn't do that," defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli said, via ESPN Dallas. "That's something you have to do. We need takeaways. That's something we've got to be able to do. And that's the bottom line."
Tony Romo managed to throw for 281 yards and a touchdown, and DeMarco had a big day with 118 yards on 22 carries. However, both players made major miscues, as the quarterback threw three interceptions and Murray’s fumble on the second play of the game was turned into a 49ers touchdown.
While the Cowboys had one of the worst season openers on Sunday, the Titans couldn’t have asked for a better start to their year. Tennessee began the 2014 season with one of the worst Super Bowl odds in the NFL, but they looked like a playoff team in Week One, going on the road and beating the Kansas City Chiefs 26-10.
Jake Locker was one of the most efficient quarterbacks in Week One, throwing for 266 yards and two touchdowns, registering a 111.4 passer rating. Tennessee’s running game didn’t have much of a problem without Chris Johnson, as four different running backs totaled 148 yards on 32 carries.
The Titans had a similar start to the 2013 season, beating the Pittsburgh Steelers as road underdogs. They won three of their first four games, but ended up losing eight of the next 10 contests.
We notice we get no attention,” said cornerback Jason McCourty, via Sports Illustrated. “But we don’t mind. We believe in us, no matter whether anyone else does. Overrated, underrated, when you play us, you know we come to play every Sunday. We play hard.”
Following Monday Night Football, Tennessee was made a four-point favorite at home against Dallas, meaning they’d be favored even if the game was played on a neutral field. A day later, the betting line moved to 3.5 points at most Las Vegas casinos, but the Titans are still considered the superior team.
The over/under for the Week Two contest has been set at 49.5 points. If both Locker and the Cowboys defense have repeat performances from last week, the teams could be in for a high-scoring affair. The betting odds for just two other Week Two games feature an over/under of 50 points or more.
While Tennessee could be in for a big day offensively, there are signs that Dallas could have a much stronger performance on Sunday. The Cowboys defense performed much better in the second half, keeping the 49ers off the scoreboard. Dallas only allowed 319 yards of total offense, which ranks 11th in the NFL.
Prediction: Dallas made too many mistakes at the start of their first game, and it’s not likely Tennessee will return a fumble for a score and start another touchdown drive at the Cowboys’ two-yard line like, the 49ers did. Romo’s three interceptions are an aberration, considering he threw two picks in just two of 15 games last season. The Titans’ defense might be improved from last year, but they benefited from playing a Chiefs team that could take a major step back from 2013. A win in Tennessee won’t be easy, but Locker hasn’t proven he can be a consistent performer, and the Titans could drop their first home game.
Predicted Score: Dallas 27, Tennessee 24