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After starting the season with a 10-2 record, the Arizona Cardinals have dropped three games in a row and a big reason for that could be the lack of production by QB Kyler Murray who has just two total touchdowns in those last three games, his 10-5 Cardinals now ranked 8th on offense and defense and in need of a big win in Arlington against the Cowboys and their noisy fans.
After humiliating Washington last week on SNF (final score: 56-14), the Dallas Cowboys have now clinched the NFC East and therefore a playoff spot, but they want the first seed that the Packers now own, so a win over these Cardinals will help HC Mike McCarthy achieve that, the perfect job for QB Dak Prescott and RB Zeke Elliott and talented rookie LB Micah Parsons.
These two NFC cross-divisional rivals have faced each other 90 other times (including 1 postseason game), with the Dallas Cowboys winning 56 of those games and the Arizona Cardinals winning 33 of the games, plus there has been one tie.
The Arizona Cardinals have lost three in a row and four of their last five matchups, a sign that something is off in that locker room, and that becomes the job of the team leader, QB Kyler Murray, to figure out with HC Kliff Kingsbury how to fix what ails them.
It could be due to injuries or simply the difficulty of their later schedule, but the Cardinals offense has been shaky lately, scoring just 12, 16, and 23 points in those last three losses, production far under the 26 points they typically score per game.
The other NFL defenses in the copycat league have obviously begun to use game tape to figure out how to neutralize the Cardinal’s offense and take advantage of their defensive weak spots, so it will be up to Arizona to take another step forward on both sides of the ball.
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Championship football teams play complementary football, meaning top production from all three aspects of the game – offense, defense, and special teams – something that the Cowboys had failed to do in the first part of their season and the result was a 7-4 opening record.
Now the Cowboys have healed up from the early injuries that plagued them and have stacked four wins in a row, an 11-4 team that seems to have an incredible rushing and passing attack that work off each other, with an improving defense and special teams.
The key is a healthy Dak Prescott and Zeke Elliott, because when those two main playmakers have a big game then the rest of the Cowboys seems to follow, a group that with a win here could steal the number one NFC playoff seed from the Packers if they lose in Week 17.
After spending the first six weeks of the season with the Philadelphia Eagles, veteran Pro Bowl tight end Zach Ertz was traded to the Arizona Cardinals for cornerback Tay Gowan and a fifth-round selection in the 2022 NFL Draft in an effort to bolster QB Kyler Murray’s offense.
Ertz has had a positive effect on the Cardinals offensive production in the nine games he has played in, so far having been targeted 62 times with 42 receptions for 449 yards and 3 touchdowns, numbers that should improve even more as he gets acclimated to the new offense.
There is no denying that Ertz the 31 year old has slowed down a bit on the field, but he could play an integral role for the Cardinals as both a blocker and a pass-catcher, ala Rob Gronkowski, a veteran presence in the locker room who has already won a Super Bowl.
Given the overall talent level of NFL players, rarely does a rookie make an impact, certainly not the type that Cowboys linebacker Micah Parsons has made so far this season as he has quickly become a critical part of DC Dan Quinn’s weekly defensive game plan.
Parsons has great size for his position at 6’ 3” 245 pounds, running with the speed of a smaller man but tackling with the power of a larger lineman, so far this season with 13 sacks, 29 QB hits, 3 passes defended, 3 forced fumbles and 60 tackles with 18 of those for a loss.
Watch Parsons when he is on the field – you can’t miss him because he is typically wherever the ball is – and his football IQ and ability to see the entire field will be apparent, a young newbie to the league whose name keeps coming up for Defensive Rookie of the Year.
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|Cardinals vs Cowboys Information|
|What||Arizona Cardinals vs Dallas Cowboys|
|Where||AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas|
|When||Sunday, January 2, 2022; 4:25 PM ET|
|How to watch||FOX|
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Mike Lukas is a retired standup comedian turned freelance writer now living in Dallas, Texas, originally from Cleveland, Ohio. His love for the game of football and all things Cleveland Browns turned Mike into a pro blogger years ago. Now Mike enjoys writing about all thirty-two NFL teams, hoping to help football gamblers gain a slight edge in their pursuit of the perfect wager. Email: [email protected]More info on Mike Lukas
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