Monday Night Preview: Cowboys at Cardinals

The Sports Xchange

September 24, 2017 at 8:12 am.

Sep 10, 2017; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (4) throws in the pocket in the third quarter against the New York Giants at AT&T Stadium. Photo Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Sep 10, 2017; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (4) throws in the pocket in the third quarter against the New York Giants at AT&T Stadium. Photo Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports


KICKOFF: Monday, 8:30 p.m. ET, University of Phoenix Stadium. TV: ESPN, Sean McDonough, Jon Gruden, Lisa Salters (field reporter).

SERIES HISTORY: 88th regular-season meeting. Cowboys lead series, 55-31-1. The Cardinals have won the past four meetings, including once in the Bruce Arians’ era as Arizona defeated Dallas 28-17 on Nov. 2, 2014, at AT&T Stadium. It was the first time in Arizona’s four-game win streak over Dallas that the win didn’t come on the final play of the game. Each of those three wins came at University of Phoenix Stadium. Two of the three wins came in overtime.

KEYS TO THE GAME: Dallas running back Ezekiel Elliott gets a chance for redemption after his effort during Dallas’ humbling 42-17 loss last Sunday in Denver. Coach Jason Garrett wasn’t pleased when the tailback showed no interest in turning into a defensive player after two Dak Prescott interceptions.

Elliott had more carries (nine) than yards (eight) against the Broncos, but Cardinals coach Bruce Arians doesn’t see a player that suddenly has lost his way or forgot how to break tackles and squirt through holes.

The Cardinals hope they have similar success to the Broncos, who held the Cowboys to 268 yards.

If the Cardinals stack the box to try and contain Elliott, the Cowboys will have to rely on Prescott beating Arizona to the outside, and that could prove difficult since their best receiver, Dez Bryant, will be shadowed throughout the game by All-Pro cornerback Patrick Peterson.

The Cardinals could turn to their second new starting running back in two weeks since losing star David Johnson to a left wrist injury in Week 1 at Detroit. Kerwynn Williams was the starter against the Colts last week and it appears veteran Chris Johnson could be the guy against the Cowboys.


–Cardinals LT John Wetzel vs. Cowboys DE DeMarcus Lawrence. Keep an eye on the inexperienced Wetzel against Lawrence, who is tied for the league lead with four sacks. Wetzel played better this week than he did in the opener, but he likely will require extra help to keep Lawrence at bay. Against the Colts without an injured Jermaine Gresham, Arizona used rookie tackle Will Holden as an extra blocker next to Wetzel. Gresham should be back this week to help out on the left side after missing a week with sore ribs.

–Cowboys TE Jason Witten vs. Cardinals SS Antoine Bethea. Last week against the Colts, Arizona had great difficulty trying to contain TE Jack Doyle, who caught eight passes for 79 yards. This week, they get Witten, who leads the league with 17 receptions and has two touchdowns. It will be up to multiple defenders to try to slow him down; but, if Witten gets matchups against smallish safeties such as Bethea and Tyrann Mathieu, he could have a huge game. Outside linebackers Markus Golden and Chandler Jones will have to lend a hand when Witten floats their way.

PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: Cardinals OLB Chandler Jones. With three sacks in his first two games, Jones has 26.5 since 2015, which is tied with Denver’s Von Miller for the second-highest total in the league. Oakland’s Khalil Mack has the most with 27. Jones’ two-sack performance Sunday at the Colts gave him multiple sacks in a game for the 14th time in his career, including four as a member of the Cardinals. Dating to Jones’ second season in 2013, only Houston’s J.J. Watt (16) has more multi-sack games. Coach Bruce Arians this week called Jones one of the top five pass rushers in the game today.

FAST FACTS: Dallas QB Dak Prescott passed for 238 yards and two TDs last week. He has 14 TDs vs. five INTs in nine career road games. … Dallas RB Ezekiel Elliott has 785 rushing yards and eight TDs in eight road games. He has just 112 rushing yards in the first two games, though, averaging 3.4 yards per carry. … Dallas TE Jason Witten led the team with 10 catches for 97 yards in Week 2, his 11th career game with 10 receptions. He has 1,106 career receptions, passing Cris Carter (1,101) and Marvin Harrison (1,102) for fourth in NFL history. … Arizona QB Carson Palmer threw for 332 yards last week, surpassing Drew Bledsoe (44,611) for 13th on the NFL’s all-time passing list. Palmer has 44,869 passing yards. … Arizona WR J.J. Nelson led the team with five catches for 120 yards and a TD last week. He has seven TDs in his past seven games. Since 2015, he leads the NFL with 18.7 yards per catch. … Arizona LB Chandler Jones had two sacks and a forced fumble last week. He has eight sacks, three forced fumbles and two recoveries in his past nine home games.

PREDICTION: Turnovers figure to be the decisive factor in this game, and the Cowboys have been better in that department (Palmer has thrown four picks for Arizona).

OUR PICK: Cowboys, 27-20.

–Chris Cluff