The Chargers will be playing their first regular season game in front of fans at SoFi Stadium against the Cowboys on Sunday, Sept. 15 at 1:25 p.m. PT.
Here are six key things to know about Los Angeles’ opponent ahead of the matchup:
Dak is back
After suffering a season-ending ankle injury last season, there were still some questioning whether or not quarterback Dak Prescott was actually ready to go in Week 1. Facing a Buccaneers defense that is one of the best in the league, Prescott dispelled that narrative by completing 42 of 58 passes for 403 yards, three touchdowns and only one interception.
The Cowboys boasted one of the best wide receiver trios in the league, but it is now only a duo after Michael Gallup suffered an ankle injury that’ll keep him sidelined for 3-5 weeks. Amari Cooper and Ceedee Lamb, however, can still pose a problem for the Chargers’ secondary. In the season opener, Cooper caught 13 passes for 139 yards and one touchdown, while Lamb caught seven of his career-high 15 targets for 104 yards and a score.
Questions surrounding the run game
Even though the Cowboys had a lot of success through the air last week against Tampa Bay, concerns arose with running back Ezekiel Elliott’s lack of production output. Elliott had 11 carries — the second-lowest total of his career — for only 33 yards. Offensive coordinator Kellen Moore made it clear that the reason why Elliott was a non-factor was because of the Buccaneers’ strong run defense. Facing a Chargers defense that allowed 4.7 yards per attempt and 126 rushing yards against Washington last Sunday coupled with the return of guard Zack Martin, Elliott could indeed be fed.
Missing pieces up front
Dallas will be without two key trench players on both sides of the ball, with those being tackle La’el Collins and edge defender Randy Gregory. Collins was suspended five games for violations surrounding the substance abuse policy. With the Cowboys expected to start second-year tackle Terence Steele in place of him, edge defender Joey Bosa could be in for another big performance. Gregory, on the other hand, is on the Reserve/COVID-19 list, which could benefit Los Angeles’ revamped offensive line.
Stud & dud in the secondary
Even though quarterback Tom Brady threw for 379 yards, cornerback Trevon Diggs was not a culprit. Tasked with covering three-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Mike Evans, Diggs only allowed one completion (10 yards) and had an interception for a passer rating of 0.0. Anthony Brown, who was the team’s No. 2 corner last Thursday, gave up seven completions for 121 yards, one touchdown and a 158.3 passer rating.
The Chargers were actually competent on special teams last weekend. The Cowboys, on the other hand, not so much. Veteran Greg Zuerlein missed a point after attempt (PAT) and a field goal from 31 yards out. Had Zuerlein at least made the field goal, Dallas would have won the game. Zuerlein’s struggles could be due to lingering after effects from injuries this offseason.