The Cardinals and Cowboys bring some high-powered offenses into the game Monday night. Here are some keys to victory for both teams.
The Cardinals will win if…
The Cardinals will win the Monday Night match-up if they are able to turn the game into a track meet on grass (field turf). The high-powered Cardinals have a young, MVP-caliber quarterback with the league's best WR1 at his disposal. Kyler Murray is coming off back to back games with a 100-plus passer rating for the first time in his career. And he looks like he is developing a strong rapport with his new No.1 receiver. Hopkins leads the league in receiving yards and is the only player in the game with 500-plus receiving yards and 40-plus catches. Against a Cowboys' defense that is struggling in coverage, Hopkins could have a banner day with Murray throwing the ball all over the yard.
If the Cardinals' offense sets the tone with their fast-break style, the defense will be able to harass Andy Dalton with a barrage of overload and cross-angle blitzes designed to exploit the weakest links in pass protection (Brandon Knight, Connor Williams, and Terence Steele). In addition, the constant harassment could disrupt Dalton's rhythm as a passer while he is attempting to chase points as part of a pass-centric offensive approach.
The Cowboys will win if…
The Cowboys will win if they are able to play complementary football from the opening snap. Kellen Moore needs to call offensive plays with the defense in mind while also putting his new QB1 in the best position to succeed. In theory, the Cowboys would be wise to attack the Cardinals with a heavy dose of runs to attack their vulnerable run defense. Ezekiel Elliott should have a field day against the Cardinals' soft defense, which will set up Dalton for big-play opportunities in the passing game. This doesn't necessarily mean the Cowboys have to run on early downs but they need to sprinkle in enough runs to control the tempo of the game and take alleviate some of the pressure on Dalton's shoulders.
Defensively, Mike Nolan has to be more aggressive to create more negative plays. The Cowboys must force the Cardinals to play behind the chains, which will give their pass rush more opportunities to get after Murray. That said, the pass rush must keep the diminutive passer in the pocket and challenge him to make pinpoint throws through the trees. If the Cowboys are able to keep him inside the pocket while limited Hopkins' playmaking opportunities on the perimeter, they should be able to squeak out a win in a very competitive game.
The Cowboys are back at AT&T Stadium next Monday night, October 19th , to take on the Arizona Cardinals. A limited number of tickets starting at $89 are on sale now. Get yours now before they sell out!
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