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Game Notes

Cowboys at Cardinals: ITS Writer Predictions for the Game

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Cowboys at Cardinals: ITS Writer Predictions for the Game 1
James D. Smith/Dallas Cowboys

This week, the Dallas Cowboys are in Arizona to play the Cardinals, and it probably can't come soon enough for Cowboys Nation. Typically, the week following a loss tends to be just a bit longer and more grueling, but it's worse when it's a blowout.

The Cowboys are fresh off of their lackluster performance against the Broncos. Dak Prescott threw two interceptions. Ezekiel Elliott has been accused of--and basically acknowledged--not giving 100% during the game. DeMarcus Lawrence got two sacks. Chidobe Awuzie and Nolan Carroll exited the game with injuries. And last, but certainly not least, Cowboys 17, Broncos 42.

It was probably the thumping these young Cowboys need and it came at the most opportune time of the season, too. Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott haven't had to deal with anything close to as big of a loss as that was in their still-fledgling NFL careers, and a loss like that is a good teaching moment.

So don't take it too hard, guys and girls. The season is still young.

The Arizona Cardinals are struggling behind the supremely veteran leadership of quarterback, Carson Palmer. They have plenty of tools to work with, but enter this week tied with the Cowboys at 1-1 on one of the most disappointing starts to a season by Palmer, ever.

The Cowboys need to get back on track on Monday Night Football, and I polled our writers for their thoughts on the game. As always, I encourage you to add your own predictions for the game in our comments section below.

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Cowboys Back on Track After Week 2 Scare

After the Cowboys second loss of 2016 to the New York Giants (one very similar to the way the game went for the team in Denver), the Cowboys came out and won a tough game against the Buccaneers on Sunday Night Football. The Cowboys will look to do the same thing on Monday Night Football against the Cardinals. Both teams are 1-1, but both teams are very different. The Cowboys will dominate this game on both sides of the ball. Orlando Scandrick and Chidobe Awuzie will come back and have big games for the Cowboys and Dak Prescott and the Cowboys offense will get of to a hot start on the road. Look for Dak and Zeke to both have much better games under the bright lights than they did in the high altitude of Denver in last week's loss. Connor Livesay – @connorx147

Cowboys 24 – Cardinals 13

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Dallas Cowboys Reawaken in Arizona

After the drubbing the Dallas Cowboys took in Denver and the questions that come with that, the Cowboys awake in Arizona. Against a Cardinals team that has been good against the run (allowing only 2.8 YPC), the Cowboys get their rhythm through the air. Prescott has his most efficient game of the season, while leading them to the right side of the win-loss column. John Williams – @john9williams

Cowboys 28 – Cardinals 20

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Bouncing Back

I believe the 2017 Dallas Cowboys to be legit Super Bowl contenders. Were they terrible last week? Yes. "Terrible" doesn't even cut it. But I think this is an elite team, and as such, I'm calling the Cowboys to win big in their bounce-back victory against the 1-1 Arizona Cardinals. Mauricio Rodriguez – @PepoR99

Cowboys 30 – Cardinals 13

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Suddenly "Beatable" Cowboys Not in the Cards

I have a ton of respect for Cardinals Head Coach Bruce Arians as a football mind in this league, and he said it best this week when noting that there certainly is no blueprint to beating the Cowboys coming off of their first loss. That is, unless the Cardinals can borrow the Broncos' defense. As I have the Cowboys getting back on track with a Monday night win, Arizona may need to borrow Trevor Siemian as well--with both their offense and defense falling short of the challenge of knocking Dallas off their game. All will be right in the world once again, the Cowboys win in prime time. Sean Martin – @ShoreSportsNJ

Cowboys 28 – Cardinals 21

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Pent-up Anger Propels Cowboys Past Cardinals

I believe the entire Dallas Cowboys team will be playing angry this week after last week's letdown. The defense will bounce back against the David Johnson-less Cardinals offense because there simply isn't another playmaker that should worry them. Offensively, the Cowboys should be able to control the clock and move the ball up and down the field pretty much at will. I expect a heavy dose of Ezekiel Elliott and a much improved passing game this week. Brian Martin – @bmart0204

Cowboys 27 – Cardinals 13

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PANIC! At Glendale

Although the Cowboys defense plays great in getting to Palmer early, the Cardinals win on a walk-off field goal set up by an Arizona takeaway. Press the panic button in Dallas. Christopher Waetjen – @SingForTheDay

Cowboys 23 – Cardinals 24

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Return to Normalcy

Many are expecting Dallas to come back with a vengeance this week, but the Cardinals defense is too good for this to get too lopsided. Carson Palmer's hearing the "washed up" comments and will fight hard against the Cowboys' suspect secondary. Still, I expect Dallas' superior firepower to prevail. Jess Haynie – @CowboysAddicts

Cowboys 27 – Cardinals 23

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R-E-L-A-X

The Dallas Cowboys are coming off their most humiliating loss in years and sort of need to win this one on the road. Arizona has been bad through two weeks, but I do expect them to challenge the Cowboys offense during their home opener. Dallas is able to squeak out a close win on the road Monday night and silence the haters, for the time being. Kevin Brady – @KevinBrady88

Cowboys 21 – Cardinals 17

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Road to Redemption Goes Through Arizona

The Cowboys are in a tough spot. They're 1-1, they have vengeance against the Giants for 2016 and a black and blue ego from a long day in Denver. Losing to the Cardinals is only going to make the pressure increase. The team knows what went wrong in Denver. Maybe Zeke did give up, but maybe that just means he didn't hit the orange wall quite as hard; it was a wall in either case. Learning from week two and facing a beatable Cardinals team, the Cowboys begin their climb out of the hole. Bryson Treece – @BrysonTreece

Cowboys 27 – Cardinals 20

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As Sean mentioned, Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians knows that Denver proved nothing about the Cowboys, only that Denver is better than some thought. A wiser Cowboys team emerges from that week two ass whooping against a Cardinals team with just the right weaknesses for the Cowboys' own weaknesses.

Here's to the Cowboys capitalizing on the matchup. Go Cowboys!



This is the General Staff account for Inside The Star, a blog for Dallas Cowboys news, scores, schedule, rumors, and analysis. We are the official home for @CowboysNation on Twitter. Follow us today for new content updates straight from our timeline. To learn more about our staff, please visit our Staff listing.

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2 Comments
  • Russ_Te

    Everyone brings the A game at home against Dallas. Cowboys OL, not in sync yet with the new players at RT and LG

    28-13 Arizona

    • Jess Haynie

      Damn Russ…. you hater! 😉

Game Notes

Cowboys, Falcons Week 11 Injury Report

Jess Haynie

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Zack Martin

The Dallas Cowboys and Atlanta Falcons are both 4-5 and playing to keep their seasons alive. It's a mutual must-win game, and both will have to try to win it without some key players. Once again, we look at this week's injury reports.

Let's begin with your Cowboys, whose report is getting longer as the season wears on:

Dallas Cowboys

  • WR Tavon Austin (groin) - OUT
  • DE Taco Charlton (shoulder) - OUT
  • DT David Irving (ankle) - OUT
  • DT Daniel Ross (calf) - OUT
  • LB Sean Lee (hamstring) - OUT
  • DT Antwaun Woods (concussion) - Doubtful
  • G Zack Martin (knee) - Questionable
  • G Connor Williams (knee) - Questionable
  • DT Maliek Collins (knee) - Questionable
  • LB Joe Thomas (foot) - Questionable

The biggest news is the guy who won't miss tomorrow's game; All-Pro guard Zack Martin is expected to play despite his knee injury from last Sunday night. The Cowboys, already dealing with Travis Frederick's absence and now health issues at left guard, could ill afford to go without Martin in such a pivotal game.

Even if he was healthy, rookie Connor Williams might have a hard time getting in the game. Backup Xavier Su'a-Filo looked like an experienced former second-round pick last week, and he may be the better player for now.

The defensive line has been hit hard, particularly in the middle. With Irving and Ross out, Woods doubtful, and Collins uncertain, Dallas called up DT Christian Ringo from the practice squad. They will also be without Taco Charlton, who could play inside some. Veteran Caraun Reid will be seeing a lot of playing time.

Sean Lee's ongoing absence has become almost an afterthought now with the stellar play of Leighton Vander Esch. We've seen in the past when missing Lee meant disaster on defense, but Dallas' first-round rookie has helped mitigate the damage.

Atlanta Falcons

  • LB Deion Jones (foot) - OUT

It's a short list for Atlanta, but the one name on it is a big one. Arguably the team's best defensive player, Deion Jones will miss the game with a foot injury.

The Falcons' injury issues have been more in players suffering season-ending injuries. Both starting guards, Andy Levitre and Brandon Fusco, are on injured reserve. Star running back Devonta Freeman is also there, and those losses help explain Atlanta's 30th-ranked rushing offense.

Both starting safeties are also on IR; Ricardo Allen and Keanu Neal. Atlanta has one of the league's worst passing defense this year without them, ranking 30th in yards allowed and 28th in opponent passer rating.

So yes, the Falcons injury report compared to the Cowboys' may raise some eyebrows. But in terms of who has most of their key guys, Dallas is arguably still better off.



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Game Notes

Cowboys Have Already Corrected Biggest Mistake From 2017 Loss in Atlanta

Sean Martin

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Cowboys Have Already Corrected Biggest Mistake From 2017 Loss in Atlanta

The Dallas Cowboys play their next three games in 13 days, all critical to their hopes of winning the NFC East despite alternating wins and losses since week one. For the Cowboys to earn consecutive road wins, their first coming on Sunday night at the Eagles, they'll have to come out of Atlanta in much better shape than they did just a year ago.

As expected in the NFL, a lot has changed in this year. The Cowboys 27-7 loss at the Falcons in their first game without Running Back Ezekiel Elliott was the beginning of the end on a season that forced a multitude of coaching changes in Dallas.

The Cowboys stubbornness in allowing Falcons DE Adrian Clayborn to sack Dak Prescott six times by beating Chaz Green and Byron Bell is something they hoped to move past when new positional coaches were brought in at OL, TE, QB, and WR.

It took the team admitting that these moves below Offensive Coordinator Scot Linehan were not all correct two weeks ago for the Cowboys to see any real progress, but with their win last week there's hope that the Cowboys are the improved team expected weeks ago - arrived just in time for Thanksgiving.

Firing Offensive Line Coach Paul Alexander was the first move, as the Cowboys named Marc Colombo OL Coach and Hudson Houck his assistant. Colombo told 105.3 The Fan in Dallas this week that he has injured Center Travis Frederick on a headset during games as well.

Colombo, Houck, and Frederick have the Cowboys offensive line confident in their ability to play to their strengths, rewarded with a renewed faith in the zone blocking scheme that was forgotten under Alexander.

If the Cowboys offensive line was their first problem in last year's Falcons loss (it was), it's becoming their biggest strength at the right time in the season.

The Cowboys necessary changes didn't stop here though.

In desperate need of a play maker on the outside, the Cowboys are seeing their investment into Wide Receiver Amari Cooper pay off so far. Cooper is averaging 3.2 yards of separation on his routes this season, ahead of Cole Beasley's 2.6 yards as the next closest pass catcher.

Cooper's presence was a big part of Ezekiel Elliott's 151 yard rushing performance at the Eagles. A player that can win on the outside with ease and dictate coverage has benefited Prescott and the Cowboys game plan on offense enough to send away a first round pick.

It will be up to this "rebuilt" Cowboys offense to match the Falcons on Sunday. Atlanta is averaging 27.1 points per game this season, but a much more dangerous 32.2 at home. After a 1-4 start, the 4-5 Falcons are playing in front of their home fans for the first time in two weeks, losing at the Browns in week ten.

The Cowboys felt they'd be prepared for games like this after their offseason moves, instead needing to show the type of in-season urgency that's been rare for Jason Garrett's team. The same can be said about a Falcons team that's experienced playing with their backs to the wall much sooner than the Cowboys have this season, setting up a big NFC match up in the early slot Sunday.

Dak Prescott will be thankful that Chaz Green nor Byron Bell are protecting him, wanting nothing more than to deliver another win for the Cowboys to take into Thanksgiving against the division-leading Washington Redskins. Not all of the coaches responsible for the lack of adjustment in last year's game are gone. What the Cowboys do have are tangible new ideas from coaches that understand they need more than a win at the defending Super Bowl champions to call this Cowboys season a success.

Tell us what you think about "Cowboys Have Already Corrected Biggest Mistake From 2017 Loss in Atlanta" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!



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Game Notes

Do Or Die: Chidobe Awuzie Must Improve Sunday, Or Cowboys Season Could End

Kevin Brady

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Will Chidobe Awuzie's Return Benefit The Cowboys' Defense?

Coming into the season there was a lot of hype surrounding the Dallas Cowboys' cornerbacks. With Byron Jones moving from safety full time, and now second year player Chidobe Awuzie playing opposite Jones after a promising rookie season, there was a lot for Cowboys fans to be excited about.

Through the first 10 weeks of the year, though, only one of those two has maintained fans' excitement. While Byron Jones has been arguably the best cornerback in all of football, Chidobe Awuzie has been damn-near an automatic completion when thrown at.

Awuzie has a -5.8 coverage rating this season, 65th among cornerbacks in the NFL. Coverage rating is a metric which factors in how often a cornerback is targeted as well as how many passes they've defensed per target. Quarterbacks also have a 116.6 passer rating when targeting Awuzie, compared to just 64.5 when targeting Byron Jones. For comparisons sake, Jones' coverage rating is a +45! So you can see why "cornerback opposite of Jones" is becoming a need for the Cowboys.

What's perplexing about Awuzie's season, though, is that he is only giving up an average 0.95 yards of separation, 27th in the league (courtesy of playerprofiler.com). So while Awuzie is playing relatively sticky coverage, he's still being targeted often, and he's still allowing completions way too often.

This week, Chidobe Awuzie will be tested once again, this time by the dynamic passing game of the Atlanta Falcons. The match-up many fans are focusing on is that between Byron Jones and Julio Jones, but how Awuzie does against Calvin Ridley and Mohamed Sanu may play a bigger factor in the result.

Both Ridley and Sanu are solid supporting receivers, and considering how much attention the defense typically has to pay to Julio Jones, they tend to get man coverage often. This allows for a precise route runner like Ridley to take advantage of opportunities, and come away with the types of big plays we've seen from him this year.

When matched up with either of these weapons, Awuzie will need to continue to stay close, but play and defense the ball better. He must continue to make it hard on these receivers and force them into contested catches, but hopefully he can improve on his play when the ball gets to the catch point.

Sunday will be another big test for the Cowboys' young defense. And as well as they have played most weeks, this game has the potential to be a season ender if certain guys do not step up. One of those guys who will certainly play a key role in influencing the result in Chidobe Awuzie.



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