Keys to Victory

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Keys To Victory: Cowboys Need A-Game Again

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The Cowboys are eyeing the No. 1 seed in the NFC or at least trying to stay as the No. 2 seed for now. So there's reason to be focused on this game, despite clinching the division last week.

For Arizona, the Cardinals are in the playoffs but need to get out of this current slump that has seen them lose three straight games.

Here's a look at the keys to victory for both the Cowboys and Cardinals.

The Cowboys will win if…

Mike McCarthy must convince his surging squad that the Cardinals remain a title contender and a lackluster performance could result in a loss. The Cowboys must bring their A-game to the stadium to knock off an aggressive team that likes to push the envelope on both sides of the ball. Dak Prescott and Co. need to control the game from the opening kick with an efficient effort and a balanced approach. Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard could become the focal points of the game plan against a Cardinals' defense that has shown some vulnerabilities against the run. If No.22 and No.20 have success early between the tackles, the Cardinals will have a tough time dealing with Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb, and Michael Gallup on the perimeter with the one-on-one matchups that accompany loaded fronts.

Defensively, the Cowboys must keep all eyes on No.1 to keep the diminutive playmaker from taking over the game as a dual threat. Murray has not been on his game in recent weeks, but the third-year pro heats up quickly and he has the potential to take over the game as a streaky gunslinger. If the Cowboys can get after Murray with Randy Gregory, DeMarcus Lawrence and Micah Parsons imposing their will at the line of scrimmage, the battle against the NFC West challengers could go down a big W in the win column.

The Cardinals will win if…

The Cardinals need a quick start against the Cowboys to regain some of the confidence that has dissipated since their midseason slump. Kliff Kingsbury might consider upping the tempo to get Kyler Murray into a rhythm early in the game. The fast break pace is one of the weapons the Cardinals utilized early in the season to light up opponents on the road; Kingsbury could bring it back to help his squad to regain their rhythm. When the Cardinals elect to slow down the game, Murray needs to stick the ball in the belly of James Conner and Chase Edmonds to enable the runners to grind it out against a Cowboys' defense that has not been tested between the tackles in weeks. If the Cardinals are able to run the ball with success, the team could control the game with varying tempos.

On defense, the Cardinals must keep the ball in front of the defense while heating up Dak Prescott with a variety of pressures. Chandler Jones and Markus Golden must win their one-on-one matchups on the edges to enable Vance Joseph to pick and choose when to dial up the pressure against No.4. On the perimeter, Byron Murphy and Budda Baker must lead a secondary that will have their hands full against the Cowboys' star-studded receiving corps. If the defensive backfield is come away with a takeaway or two due to great coverage, the Cardinals could knock off one of the NFL's hottest teams.

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