DALLAS COWBOYS (1-1)
at ARIZONA CARDINALS (1-1)
University of Phoenix Stadium – Glendale, AZ
Kickoff: Monday, 8:30 p.m. ET
Line: Dallas -3.0, Total: 42
Both the Cowboys and the Cardinals will be hoping to improve to 2-1 when the teams clash in Arizona on Monday Night Football.
The Cowboys faced the Broncos in Denver last week and that game did not end the way they thought it would. Dallas entered that contest as a 2.5-point favorite, but Denver ended up winning easily. The Broncos won that one 42-17, racking up 380 yards of total offense. Dallas will need to do a better job defensively this week or the team will most likely be 1-2 on Tuesday. The Cardinals, meanwhile, must also be a lot better moving forward. Arizona is coming off of a 16-13 win in Indianapolis, but the Colts just might be the worst team in football right now. If the Cardinals are going to return to the postseason this year then they’ll need to be a lot better than they were in that one. One trend that stands out when looking at this game is the fact that Dallas is a ridiculous 11-1 ATS in road games after allowing 175 or more rushing yards in its previous game since 1992. The Cowboys are also facing a Cardinals team that is 0-6 ATS in home games after outgaining their opponent by 100 or more total yards in their previous game over the past three seasons. RB David Jonson being out indefinitely will not make things easier for Arizona.
The Cowboys were embarrassed by the Broncos last week and RB Ezekiel Elliott (112 yards) was miserable in that game. Elliott rushed for only eight yards on nine carries in that loss and he can’t afford to be that bad again here. Elliott is dealing with a lot right now, but he needs to be focused when he is on the field. If the Cowboys fall to 1-2 then they will have a tough road to the playoffs, so they need their stars to be playing at the highest level. That includes QB Dak Prescott (506 yards, 3 TD, 2 INT) and WR Dez Bryant (9 rec, 102 yards, 1 TD). Prescott threw two interceptions against the Broncos last week, and he would really be hurting his team if he were to turn the ball over more than once on Monday. Bryant, meanwhile, has not been contributing as much as he is capable of the past few years. He has obviously dealt with a few injuries over the years, but he is too good of a talent to not be racking up 75 or so receiving yards per game. On defense, Dallas will just need to make sure it can get to the quarterback in this one. With RB David Johnson out for the next few months, the Cardinals will be relying strictly on Carson Palmer and the passing game. Dallas can force Palmer into making some costly mistakes by getting after him.
With David Johnson out, the Cardinals are counting on QB Carson Palmer (600 yards, 2 TD, 4 INT) to produce for them. Palmer did not do that against Indianapolis last week, throwing for just one touchdown and also throwing a pick. While Palmer did throw for 332 yards in that game, the Cardinals need him to find the end zone. And it’s not a great sign that he struggled against the Colts, as they might have the worst secondary in football. Dallas, meanwhile, is pretty solid in that regard, so Palmer must be more careful with the ball. One guy that can help him out on offense is WR Larry Fitzgerald (9 rec, 95 yards). Fitzgerald did not do much against Indianapolis last week, but this is a better matchup for him here. The Cardinals will need a guy to get some yards over the middle of the field, and Fitzgerald can be that guy. It also helps that the veteran loves to play on national television. One last guy to keep an eye on is WR J.J. Nelson (10 rec, 163 yards, 2 TD). Nelson is lightning quick and Palmer loves to find him deep. It would not be shocking if he shakes free at least once here. Defensively, stopping the run will need to be Arizona’s priority. The Broncos made things very tough on the Cowboys by doing just that last week, so Arizona needs to follow that blueprint.