NFL 2017 Week 3: Dallas Cowboys vs. Arizona Cardinals preview and prediction

The Dallas Cowboys travel west again, this time to face the Arizona Cardinals, as they try get back on track after a poor Week 2 performance


It’s no secret that the Dallas Cowboys must be itching to get back out on the field in an effort to redeem themselves after what happened in Denver last Sunday. They were completely outplayed and outperformed by an impressive Broncos team, losing 42-17. The Dallas offense were held to only 268 total yards and were a woeful 3-for-14 on 3rd down conversions. Mix those stats in with two untimely turnovers and you have a recipe for a loss. RB Ezekiel Elliott was held to his worst performance of his young career – failing to even get ten yards on the ground – while the Cowboys defense got even more banged up, losing some key pieces in the secondary. As concerning as this loss was, they will look to forget about this one as they travel to play Arizona on Monday night.

The Arizona Cardinals were able to pick up their first win of the season, defeating the Indianapolis Colts on the road 16-13 in overtime. It wasn’t pretty by any stretch of the imagination, but a win is a win. Carson Palmer had to lead the Cardinals back from a 13-3 deficit, all of which was done in the 4th quarter. After throwing for 332 yards, Carson Palmer was able to find JJ Nelson for a 45-yard TD pass with 7:47 left in the 4th. This brought the score to 13-10, and after the defense got the stops it needed, K Phil Dawson was able to tie the game at 13-13 with just under 3:30 minutes left in 4th. No one scored the rest of regulation, and on the first play in OT, S Tyrann Mathieu intercepted Colts QB Jacoby Brissett, setting up Arizona with a chance to win the game. After the Cardinals ran four plays, K Phil Dawson was able to convert on a 30-yard game-winning field goal, sending Arizona back home with their first win of the season. They will look to add to that total when they face off against the Dallas Cowboys on Monday Night Football.

Injuries

Both Arizona and Dallas are dealing with some injury issues moving into Week 3. The Cardinals have already ruled out WR John Brown and OL DJ Humphries, while LB Deone Bucannon, G Mike Iupati, and WR JJ Nelson are all listed as questionable. On the Dallas side, CB Nolan Carroll, CB Chidobe Awuzie, and LB Anthony Hitchens have already been ruled out for Monday. WRs Terrance Williams and Brice Butler, along with DT Stephen Paea are all questionable. These are some key pieces for each team, and even if some of these players play, will they be healthy enough to be effective?

Dak and Zeke

This sophomore duo is coming off their worst performances as professionals in Week 2. RB Ezekiel Elliott was held to only eight yards rushing, while QB Dak Prescott has two INTs against the vaunted Denver defense. There was also some backlash against Elliott’s effort in the game, specifically when he chose not chase down Denver CB Chris Harris Jr after an INT. This will be an important week for these two moving forward, as they try bounce back from their struggles in Week 2.

Arizona’s defense

With the recent struggles of the Arizona offense, it has put more pressure on the team’s defensive unit to perform. Arizona’s defense is a talent-rich group that is filled with Pro Bowl caliber players. They only rank 18th in total defense through the first two weeks, but look for that mark to improve as we move through the season. OLB Chandler Jones already has three sacks on the season and can cause problems if he gets going against a tough, physical Dallas offensive line. Look for CB Patrick Peterson and S Tyrann Mathieu to make some plays on Monday night, while rookie LB Hasson Reddick gets another to chance to show why he was such a high draft pick. The defense as a whole should pose a big challenge for Dallas, just as Denver did in the previous week.

Arizona CB Patrick Peterson vs Dallas WR Dez Bryant

Has anyone faced tougher positional matchups than Cowboy’s WR Dez Bryant over the last three games – Janoris Jenkins, Talib/Harris/Roby, and now Patrick Peterson? Arizona’s All-Pro CB is expected to shadow Bryant wherever he goes on Monday, creating an opportunity for both to prove their worth. This will be the third time these two have faced off in their careers. In 2011, Dez Bryant got the best of Peterson in their first matchup, catching eight balls for 82 yards and a TD. However, in 2014, Peterson redeemed himself where he held Bryant to only the catches for 15 yards. Given Dez Bryant’s recent struggles to create separation generated by his inability to run efficient routes, I’d give the advantage to Peterson heading into Monday night. But this could be a chance for Dez to prove the critics wrong and show that he still belongs in the “elite” category.

Fantasy football tip- Arizona WR Larry Fitzgerald

Arizona WR Larry Fitzgerald could be a hot commodity this week in many fantasy and DFS lineups. With RB David Johnson and WR John Brown out, and WR JJ Nelson dealing with a hamstring injury, who else do the Cardinals have at WR? He still has shown solid ability at his age, and with all of Cowboy’s injuries in the secondary, Fitzgerald could be in store for a big game. Carson Palmer has targeted Fitzgerald 19 times on the season through two games, which goes to show how much trust his QB has in him. He will see plenty of action on Monday night, which makes him worthy of a fantasy roster spot in Week 3.

Betting tip- Arizona (+3)

Arizona enters this Monday night game as a home underdog against a Dallas Cowboys team looking to get back on track after their awful performance in Week 2. It will be a battle of strengths, as Dallas’s offense will be put to test against a talented Arizona defense. Arizona must stop Ezekiel Elliott and prevent Dallas from controlling the time of possession — which Dallas has done so well going back to last year. Carson Palmer and company will finally string together some big plays offensively, getting guys like WR Larry Fitzgerald, WR JJ Nelson and RB Chris Johnson heavily involved. Dallas will have to play from behind, which will make it hard for them to cover the spread as the favorite. Dallas is 0-4 against the spread facing Arizona in their last four matchups.

Prediction: Arizona Cardinals 26-20 Dallas Cowboys

Both of these teams enter this NFC conference showdown with some big question marks and concerns about their respective teams. Dallas took a hard loss last week in Denver, where they couldn’t generate any offense and allowed Denver to put up 42 points. Arizona is coming off an OT victory against one of the leagues projected bottom-feeders, the Indianapolis Colts, and are dealing with some significant injuries – specifically on the offensive side of the ball. Nevertheless, these teams have an opportunity to win on national TV and move to 2-1 on the season. The Cowboys are dealing with an array of injuries themselves, especially in the secondary, and will need to keep their defense off of the field as much as possible. Getting RB Ezekiel Elliott going and converting on 3rd downs will be key for Dallas if they want a chance in this one. On the other side, Cardinals QB Carson Palmer has put up 600 yards passing through the first two weeks, but only has two TDs and isn’t even completing 60% of his passes. Broncos QB Trevor Siemian torched this Dallas defense for four TDs last week, and as poor as Carson Palmer has played, going up against this defense could be what the doctor ordered. The Cardinals 10th ranked run defense has played solid through two weeks– limiting the Colts to 2.6 yards per rush in their last outing – and should be able to at keep Ezekiel Elliott’s production in check on Monday night, as I expect them to stack the box. Ultimately, Arizona’s stingy defense will outplay the Dallas offense, while QB Carson Palmer helps generate enough offense for Arizona to get it done.

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Chris Cook

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