DAL-KC Preview

Kansas City, MO - The Dallas Cowboys are off to an inconsistent start, looking very strong at times while playing poorly in others.

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The Kansas City Chiefs have been pretty consistent all year, but not in a good way.

Tony Romo and the Cowboys look to bounce back from a tough loss Sunday when they visit a Chiefs team trying to avoid opening with five consecutive defeats for the first time in 32 years.

Oddsmakers from online sports book BetOnline have made the Cowboys -9 point spread favorites (View NFL odds) for Sunday’s game (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 59% of bets for this game have been placed on the Cowboys -9 (View NFL bet percentages).

Dallas (2-2) began the post-Terrell Owens era in fine fashion with Romo throwing for a career-high 353 yards and three touchdowns in a season-opening 34-21 win over Tampa Bay, but the team has been unable to build on that victory.

The Cowboys have lost two of three with both defeats going down to the wire. Dallas, which suffered a last-second loss to the New York Giants in Week 2, is coming off an agonizing 17-10 defeat at Denver last Sunday.

After allowing the Broncos to score the go-ahead touchdown with 1:46 remaining, Romo marched Dallas down the field, but his pass to Sam Hurd in the end zone on fourth-and-goal from the 2 was knocked away with 1 second left.

The loss left Dallas two games back of the NFC East-leading Giants and tied with Washington for last in the division.

"You're kind of like, 'OK. Where are we? What is our identity?'" Cowboys linebacker Bradie James said. "Our identity is we're 2-2. In order for us to continue to win and not be an up-and-down team, we have to win those tough games. That's just it."

The struggling offense is a big reason for Dallas' inability to win the close games.

Dallas put up 65 points in its first two games but the offense has scored only two touchdowns in its last 22 possessions.

Romo has been limited to an average of 212.3 passing yards with one touchdown and four interceptions since the opener and has gone two games in a row without a TD pass, the first time that has happened since he became a starter in 2006.

Roy Williams, expected to take over the No. 1 receiver role following Owens' departure, has only 11 catches and his status for this game is uncertain due to cartilage damage around three ribs.

"Our team is going to keep fighting, keep working harder, keep trying to do the things it takes to get better, and we're going to do that getting ready for this next ball game," coach Wade Phillips said. "This team has worked a long time and very hard to stop believing in what we're doing, stop trusting each other. We're going to work at it and get better and do something about it."

A game against Kansas City (0-4) might be just what Dallas needs to get back on track.

The Chiefs, losers of 27 of 29 dating back to 2007, are off to their worst start since 1980 and haven't opened a season with five straight losses since 1977.

Romo and the Cowboys should be able to take advantage of a Kansas City team that is 28th in the league in pass defense (250.5 ypg).

That ranking could be much worse considering the unproductive JaMarcus Russell passed for 109 yards in Oakland's 13-10 win over Kansas City in Week 2. The Chiefs have yielded an average of 308.7 passing yards in the other three games.

Kansas City isn't much better with the ball, ranking 30th in total offense (266.8). Larry Johnson's average of 2.6 yards per rush is the worst of any player with at least 60 carries.

The Chiefs were held to 193 yards in last Sunday's 27-16 loss to the Giants, and Matt Cassel's two touchdown passes late in the game made the score appear much closer than the game actually was.

"We've got to be better in all areas," coach Todd Haley said.

One of the team's biggest problems is the failure to convert on third down.

The Chiefs are 2 for 26 on third-down conversions in the last two games and rank last in the league in such situations at 17.6 percent. It might not get any easier this week as the Cowboys defense is fifth in the league in third-down efficiency at 30.4 percent.

"We've got to stick together as a team, which I think our guys are doing very well," Haley said. "We've got to pull together."

These teams' only meeting in the past decade was Dallas' 31-28 home win in 2005.

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Posted: 10/7/09 10:53PM ET

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