Dallas Cowboys at San Diego Chargers (-3.5, 38 O/U)
The Dallas Cowboys’ offense was an absolute juggernaut last season, dominating both on the ground and through the air. While RB DeMarco Murray is now wearing the forest green of the rival Eagles, the Cowboys still boast the tandem of QB Tony Romo and WR Dez Bryant – not to mention a stellar offensive line – which should keep the offense dangerous in 2015. The defense has long been an issue in Big D, but the team will have a healthy Sean Lee for the first time in ages and brought in controversial DE Greg Hardy to bolster the pass rush. Head coach Jason Garrett will get his first glimpse of the team’s new-look offense and defense tomorrow when the Cowboys travel to So-Cal to face the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium (10:00 PM Eastern).
Hardy will miss the first four games of the regular season due to off field issues, but should see some playing time tomorrow. Hardy hasn’t played since Week 1 of last season and Garrett is conscious of the layoff.
“This will be his first game playing, so you want to be careful about saying, ‘OK you’re going to play 80 reps in this game because that will catch you all up,’” Garrett said to ESPN. “We’re going to progress him normally like you would after two weeks of training camp and hopefully it’ll be good positive work for him.”
The San Diego Chargers, meanwhile, could be enetering their last season with QB Philip Rivers at the helm. Rivers is entering the last year of his contract and is likely to go the entire year without one if the sides can’t reach a deal before the regular season starts.
“We’re just worried about his  season,” head coach Mike McCoy said to KOAT 7.
Rivers will play a quarter in tomorrow’s game before giving way to backups Kellen Clemens and Chase Rettig.
While San Diego’s QB situation is at least set for one more year, the same can’t be said for running back. The team saw constantly injured Ryan Matthews depart for Philly in the off-season, but then drafted highly-touted rookie Melvin Gordon in the first round of the NFL draft. Gordon will battle with Branden Oliver, who was up-and-down filling in for Matthews last year, for the starting spot.
Neither team offers bettors much confidence based on past preseason performances. Under Jason Garrett, the Dallas Cowboys are just 7-10 in exhibition matchups, while the Chargers are 3-5 under Mike McCoy. Often times, these preseason games are decided by which team has more talent fighting for playing time. I’ll take the home team in this one because there are more open battles in the offensive side of the ball.
Pick: Chargers -3.5.
(Photo credit: Bigcats lair [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], from Wikimedia Commons. Photo has been cropped from its original.)
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