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Week 17 Preview: Dallas Cowboys vs. Arizona Cardinals

The Dallas Cowboys (11-4) will host the Arizona Cardinals (10-5). The Cowboys come into this game favored by 5.5 points. It will be the final home game of the season for Dallas. The Cowboys ride high on a four-game winning streak as the Cardinals slump in with a three-game losing streak.

Although the Cowboys have already clinched the NFC East, this game will significantly impact the NFC playoff seedings. Dallas still has hope for the number one overall seed and currently holds the number two seed in the NFC.

Since week two, this will be the first time that the Cowboys will butt heads against an elite quarterback, or at least thought to be elite. Dallas’s defense has been playing superbly as of late, but this will be a new test for a unit that leads the NFL in takeaways with 33.

Kyler Murray brings incredible athleticism to the table, something the Cowboys have not faced since they squared off against Jalen Hurts. Murray is a much more accurate and composed passer than Hurts, though.

The Cardinals have been struggled as of late though. During their three-game losing streak, they rank 23rd in EPA/play (-0.070) and 26th in dropback EPA (-0.117). A good reason for this is that Arizona has been plagued with injuries. DeAndre Hopkins has been placed on IR and will miss the rest of the regular season, if not more. James Connor missed their latest loss to the Indianapolis Colts.

Murray has struggled to find the big play in Hopkin’s absence, and the running game was not up to standard last week without Connor, and Connor is questionable again for this Sunday. If he cannot play, expect to see a lot of Chase Edmonds.

During the Cardinals’ three-game losing streak, Murray has struggled. He has just two passing touchdowns to three interceptions. Dating back to his last five starts, Murray has only thrown four touchdowns to five interceptions. The Dallas defense may have its fair share of opportunities to add to that number come Sunday.

One thing the Cowboys defense does need to be wary about is containing Kyler Murray and his legs. In three of the last four outings, he has rushed for 59 or yards. The Cowboys have the personnel to try and neutralize the rushing impact Murray possesses. Dallas plays extremely fast on defense and has the speed to keep up with Murray.

In week three against the Philadelphia Eagles, Micah Parsons and company held Hurts to 35 yards rushing on nine attempts, his third-lowest rushing total of the season.

The Cowboys are coming off a 56-point performance against the Washington Football Team, and Dak Prescott won the NFC Offensive Player of the Week for week 16. This was a welcomed sight for Cowboys fans as Prescott, as the offense had struggled despite the winning streak.

It will be tough for Prescott to do it all himself again this week against a much stiffer Arizona defense. Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard will look to play a significant role in this game. Last week Elliott surpassed four yards per carry in a game for the first time since week nine against Denver.

Elliott has been dealing with an injury for most of the second half of the season. Still, he looked better last week, and when asked about his injury, Zeke responded by saying, “I’m very encouraged by the direction it’s going. I feel more explosive. I can tell I feel faster. I can tell there’s more stability.”

Elliott will need to bring his A-game on Sunday as Arizona is coming off a game in which they held the NFL’s rushing leader in Jonathan Taylor to 108 yards on 27 attempts. Arizona ranks third in the NFL in rush EPA/play on defense (-0.140).

Prescott will also have his hands full as the Cardinals rank fourth in the NFL on defense in EPA/play (-0.081) and fifth in dropback EPA (-0.044).

Arizona will also have a tall task in front of them as the Dallas Cowboys average a gaudy 38.4 points per game at home.

This will definitely be the toughest battle the Cowboys have had in some time, but they are playing better than the Cardinals and are healthier than Arizona.

A big win by the Cowboys will make a major statement to the rest of the NFL.

Cowboys win, 29- 20.

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Written by Kevin Rice

I'm a 32 year old life long Cowboys fan from New York. It's fun growing up in enemy territory. College basketball and March Madness fanatic. Lover of thrillers and comedies. Follow me on twitter @CowboysCC9

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  1. At the beginning of the season I thought the Cards would be hard to beat and be in the SB but as of lately they are falling off, so hopefully they have already peaked and are starting to level out! Tomorrow’s game will be a really good measuring stick for the Cowboys if they can come in and win by a decent margin I believe that will show we are in line for a strong run in the playoffs

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