Will the Cowboys keep winning? Probably — as long as they handle business on one side of the ball. What about the Stars getting off to a hot start in their season opener? And does TCU have it in them to pull an upset?
Here’s what I’m watching this week.
Thursday 10/14: Stars at New York Rangers — 6:00 p.m., Bally Sports Southwest
Two seasons ago, the Stars were a pair of wins away from hoisting their first Stanley Cup since 1999. Last season, they missed the playoffs entirely. Which is more indicative of who this team is?
The road to answers begins Thursday night, and we’ll have plenty of Stars coverage ahead of that here at StrongSide.
Saturday 10/16: TCU at No. 4 Oklahoma — 6:30 p.m., ABC
The Sooners looked wobbly all season — until, that is, they pulled the plug on disappointing quarterback Spencer Rattler, who entered his redshirt sophomore campaign among the favorites to go first overall in the 2022 NFL Draft. In came true freshman Caleb Williams. All he did was spark the largest comeback in the history of the Red River Showdown, in which Oklahoma looked every bit the part of their top-five ranking.
But what happens when Williams gets tasked with doing this over a full 60 minutes, when an opponent has time to game plan for him? That’s the most important question in the Big XII, and the Horned Frogs get the first crack at answering it on Saturday. The circumstances — a loud crowd at night, coming off an emotional win, a true freshman under center going against one of the most decorated coaches in the sport — seem ripe for an upset, but bona fide playoff teams win these anyway. Time to see if OU looks any more or less the part.
Sunday 10/17: The Cowboys versus the New England Patriots’ defense — 3:25 p.m., CBS
Let’s get this out of the way: much like this week’s trouncing of the Giants, don’t expect the Patriots’ offense to drive too much of the action. This group was light on weapons going into the year, and Bill Belichick rejiggering his schemes to make life as simple as possible on rookie quarterback Mac Jones means New England is unlikely to put too much of a scare into Dallas’ defense. The Tom Brady era is firmly in the rearview.
The Patriots’ defense, on the other hand, has some teeth. They rank sixth leaguewide in defensive yards per play, largely on the strength of a secondary that allows the fifth-fewest passing yards per game. New England is middle of the pack against the run, and as Dan wrote this morning, Kellen Moore is all too happy to let the ground game do the heavy lifting if that’s what opponents ask for.
But will Belichick, the most accomplished coaching mind in the game, zig where other Dallas opponents have zagged in recent weeks and dare Dak Prescott to throw the ball instead? For that matter, how much should the Cowboys necessarily respect a unit that has feasted on the likes of Miami, Houston, and the New York Jets so far? Dallas faced, and wrecked, this sort of paper tiger two weeks ago against Carolina, although New England did perform admirably against Brady and his new team, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers — far better, it should be noted, than Dallas’ defense did in their season-opening matchup with Tampa.
Something’s gone wrong if the Cowboys don’t stretch their win streak to five games, but the action when Dallas has the ball figures to be as intriguing as New England’s possessions are dull.