Since they first played each other in 1960, the Cowboys and Cardinals franchises have met 88 times. They spent nearly 30 years together as NFC East opponents. Though not still in the same division, games between the two teams still have that rivalry feeling. Tonight's showdown on Monday Night Football will be no different, and it's a game that Dallas desperately needs to win.
After their 42-17 shellacking suffered last week in Denver, the Cowboys are looking to get their season back on track. The Cardinals are coming off a narrow overtime victory over the Colts, but still have yet to show if they can be competitive against the league's better teams. Both teams are 1-1 and want to stay on the right side of the win-loss columns.
The Cowboys have lost their last four meetings against the Cardinals, going back to 2008. The first three losses occurred in Arizona and the most recent, in 2014, was at home. The series returns to Glendale, AZ tonight, an environment and a team that have not been kind to the Cowboys for a while now.
Over their last 15 meetings the Cardinals have a 9-6 record against the Cowboys. This began with a playoff meeting between the two in the 1998 season, the only time the two clubs have ever met in the postseason. Including that victory, Arizona has won 60% of the time over the last 16 years.
Even though the Cardinals left the NFC East in 2002, their games with the Cowboys still have that rivalry air about them. Even when the Cowboys are having a dominant season, such as their last meeting in 2014, the Cardinals still find ways to give them trouble. The old saying that "you can throw out the record books when these two meet" certainly applies here.
Sometimes it feels like the last 15 years are the universe's way of restoring balance, because this rivalry was as lopsided as it gets in the 1990s. Not even Jason Witten was playing back then, but most of us remember how badly the Cowboys dominated the Cardinals during their dynasty era.
Before that playoff loss in 1998, the Cowboys had gone 16-1 against the Cardinals. They won 13 straight games from 1990 to 1996. While everyone in the NFC East spent most of that decade looking up at the Cowboys, nobody was their whipping boy like the Phoenix/Arizona Cardinals.
In fact, Dallas' greatest eras have historically included domination of the Cardinals franchise. From 1966 to 1981, the Cowboys were 21-7 against the St. Louis Cardinals (as they were then known). This coincided with their time of being a perennial playoff team and their other two Super Bowl championships.
These sustained periods are why Dallas has won 55 of those 88 career meetings between the two clubs. With the momentum of their 2017 season on the line tonight, the Cowboys need to get back those winning ways against Arizona. If they could start a renewed run of victories against them, all the better.
Whether it's the recent winning or the ever-painful sight of Emmitt Smith in that red jersey, the Arizona Cardinals have been a thorn in our side for a while now. Tonight needs to be a palate cleanser, not just from the loss last week but for the last several years of history between the Cowboys and their longtime rivals.
It's time to remind them who their daddy is.
#WASvsDAL: Why This Game Holds Increased Importance
It feels incredibly cliche to call the week 7 match-up between the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins a "must win." Especially for someone like me who values statistics, logic, and analytics in sports.
But when the analytics agree with the narratives, those narratives do tend to get my attention. And this week that would appear to be the case.
According to Brian Burke of ESPN, the Cowboys's week 7 game has the highest playoff probability leverage in the entire NFC, and is second to only the Houston Texans' big game with Jacksonville around the entire league.
Playoff leverage for week 7. DAL, WAS, PHI, CAR, MIN, CHI with a lot on the line in the NFC. HOU, CIN, and JAX in the AFC.
What does this mean? Well playoff probability leverage is pretty intuitive. Basically it is the difference between a win this week and a loss this week in terms of probability to make the playoffs.
For the Cowboys that number is at 27%, with a win over Washington catapulting their playoff probability over 50%. On the other hand, a loss would take a big hit to their playoff hopes just 7 games into the NFL season.
As you might expect, this game means a lot to the Redskins' playoff probability as well. Their playoff leverage this week is at 14%, but a win would mean "more" to Dallas than Washington based on the probabilities.
Fellow NFC East foe, the Philadelphia Eagles, also have a lot to gain/lose this Sunday, with their leverage sitting at 22%. According to Burke's model, the Eagles and Cowboys have the best chances of making the playoffs at this point, but if each team wins Sunday the Eagles will still have a higher percentage.
Of course a lot can and will change week to week, despite what the metrics say. The Cowboys still have two games remaining with the NFC East favorite Eagles this year, and will get another crack at Washington at home later in the season. Plus the Cowboys have a few NFC wild card and playoff contenders remaining on their schedule, such as the New Orleans Saints and Atlanta Falcons. (Yes, the 2-4 Falcons are very much alive in this crazy conference).
Still, the difference between 4-3 (2-0 in the division) and 3-4 (1-1 in the division) is huge, as is shown by Brian Burke's playoff probability leverage metric.
Cowboys WR Tavon Austin Skipping Surgery, May Return in 2018
A groin injury sustained last week against Jacksonville won't send Tavon Austin to injured reserve, at least for now. The Dallas Cowboys receiver has elected to forego surgery at this time, giving him a chance to return to action in 2018.
There was concern that Austin could land on IR initially following the Jaguars game, but he sought a second opinion this week. It appears that this new information was enough for Tavon and the Cowboys to decide that surgery can wait.
Sounds like WR Tavon Austin will not have surgery at this time after getting a second opinion on his groin injury. He could miss a few weeks, however. #cowboyswire
Austin should miss this Sunday's game with the Washington Redskins. He has been the team's punt returner this season and a useful tool on offense, playing mostly receiver but also lining up the backfield at times.
Despite his limited opportunities, Tavon is tied with Cole Beasley for the team lead with two receiving touchdowns in 2018.
How long Austin will remain out is unknown at this time. After the Washington game, Dallas will have their bye week and then host the Tennessee Titans on Monday Night Football.
Both of these are games that the Cowboys, feeling good after a blowout victory over Jacksonville, should be able to win without Austin. But they would certainly like him back for the Week 10 road game with the Philadelphia Eagles.
In Tavon's absence, Cole Beasley will likely field punts. We may see more of Deonte Thompson in the speed routes that Austin ran on offense, though Dallas could also finally see what recently returned Brice Butler has to offer.
With an expiring contract this year, Tavon will likely want to get back soon and trying to improve his stock for the 2019 offseason. Hopefully, he can still have a positive impact on his value and the Cowboys season in the weeks ahead.
Terrance Williams: Details, Impact of 3-Game Suspension
Terrance Williams was already missing games on injured reserve, but now the Dallas Cowboys receivers is going to lose some money as well. Williams was finally hit with a three-game suspension by the NFL, starting immediately, for his public intoxication arrest last May.
Dallas placed Terrance on IR in Week 5 just a day before their game against the Houston Texans. Williams had been struggling with a foot issue since the offseason, which included a surgery that he hadn't fully recovered from.
Many were surprised that Williams wasn't suspended to start the season, given that his arrest occurred several months prior. But when charges were eventually dropped after Terrance took part in some required alcohol education courses, it appeared the league might be letting the issue go.
However, as Cowboys fans know all too well, Roger Goodell's NFL operates its own judicial system.
In Williams' case, the suspension will only result in lost game checks. Players still get paid when on IR, but Terrance will lose that amount of his $3.5 million base salary.
Because he can serve the suspension while injured, Terrance will still be eligible to be recalled from injured reserve in December after sitting the mandatory weeks.
The real issue for Williams now is how this event, and his general fall from grace in the Cowboys offense, will affect him in the next offseason.
Terrance is in just the second season of a four-year, $17 million contract he signed in 2017. If he's released after this year, Dallas would save $2.25 million of his scheduled $4.75 million cap hit in 2019.
Williams' cap hit isn't the issue by itself. That would be a bargain for a significant contributor in your offense, even if he was just the third receiver.
But Terrance appears to have fallen well below that spot on the depth chart. Cole Beasley, Allen Hurns, and Michael Gallup are the top three receivers these days, and veteran Deonte Thompson has also been getting looks. Dallas also brought back Brice Butler a few weeks ago, though he hasn't really been worked in yet.
Not only that, but the Cowboys will have the option to recall Noah Brown from IR in just a few more weeks. He was one of their more intriguing young prospects prior to getting hurt.
Dallas could let Terrance come back next year to compete, hopefully with full health and less personal baggage. But after six seasons, they may be ready to move on to players with more room to grow.
For now, though, Terrance Williams is out of action and out some money. We'll see what the future holds.
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