The Dallas Cowboys are set to host the red-hot Arizona Cardinals this Sunday at AT&T Stadium.
The Cardinals will come into Arlington sporting an NFL best 6-1 record that includes wins over the San Francisco 49ers, the San Diego Chargers and Philadelphia Eagles. While the Cowboys did lose in overtime to Washington (who Arizona also beat), they are still tied atop the NFC East with a 6-2 record.
Last Sunday’s game against Washington was an offensive nightmare most of the night for the Cowboys due to untimely fumbles by DeMarco Murray (5th of the year) and Joseph Randle, and the lack of adjustment to the heavy blitz package that consequently knocked Tony Romo out of much of the second half. The defense wasn’t much better as Washington held the ball for 38:12 and 6 of 14 3rd down attempts after they came into the game only converting on 33% in that category. Although they did pick up 3 sacks, it wasn’t enough.
The Cowboys have to be better all around in order to beat a very physical Cardinals.
If It Isn’t Broke Don’t Fix It
Murray came into the match-up with Washington averaging 26.7 carries in the first 7 games, and the Cowboys are 17-1 when he gets 20 or more carries. After only having 19 carries against Washington in which he averaged over 7 yards per carry, coach Scott Linehan must get back to the winning formula of trusting his offensive line and DeMarco Murray; they are the top ranked rushing attack for a reason.
Yes, Arizona has a very stout run defense – only allowing 77.9 yards per game – but so did the 49ers, and Seattle (Top ranked run defense at the time) before facing Murray and company.
Get back to feeding Murray and the playbook opens back up for Tony Romo to do what he does best with the play action pass.
3rd Down Offense/Defense
The Dallas offense leads the NFL with a 56% 3rd down conversion rate but was held to 41.6% against a middle-of-the-road 3rd down Washington defense.
The Cardinals are holding opposing offenses to 41% on 3rd down, which is pretty identical to the Dallas defense. I fully expect the offense to bounce back and have a big game this Sunday. On the flip side, the defense held Washington to 42.8% on 3rd down which is right around the average mentioned earlier. However, Washington was only converting 33% on the season before the game.
That has to improve against Arizona who is ranked 9th on 3rd down converting at 45 percent.
Take Care Of The Football
Dallas leads the NFL in lost fumbles and are tied for 6th in giveaways as unit. The Arizona defense is 6th in takeaways and I’m sure they will be watering at the mouth coming into this game after seeing how this Cowboys offense can put the ball on the ground.
Murray has to do a better job, whether it’s knowing when to go down or getting two hands on the ball in a crowd, he has to take care of the ball. He has been saying he will do better the past few weeks but we must see the improvement on the field.