(Editor's Note: The start of the 2017 season is still a few months away, but it's never too early to prepare. The Cowboys face a daunting schedule this year, highlighted by the AFC West and NFC West, as well as their traditional rivalries in the NFC East. Over the next two weeks, Bryan Broaddus will preview what to expect from all 13 of their upcoming opponents. The series continues with Week 3 and the Arizona Cardinals.)
Opponent: Arizona Cardinals
Series Record: Dallas leads (55-32-1)
This Year's Matchup: Sept. 25, University of Phoenix Stadium
Best Draft Pick: The Cardinals have some real questions now at their inside linebacker spot with Deone Bucannon recently having ankle surgery. This could lead to a situation where he might miss the opening of the season. The plan is to play rookie Haason Reddick in his spot, which I think takes away from his ability to rush the passer, which is his strength. Reddick did move around at Temple, even lining up some inside, so the Cardinals must have seen something there. Reddick was one of my favorite players in this draft, so I wouldn't be surprised if he was a force regardless where he lined up due to his ability to run.
Best Free Agency Move: The Cardinals' backup quarterback spot is really unsettled and with the injury history and age of Carson Palmer, the potential need is real. Blaine Gabbert has never lived up to the promise of a first-round selection, but with six offensive coordinators in six years, he's either part of the problem or just unlucky. Gabbert was signed off the street to compete with Drew Stanton who has had his share of up-and-down moments as well. Gabbert is a very good athlete and Bruce Arians likes his ability to compete from the pocket. Gabbert knows that the Cardinals are looking for a quarterback for the future and this will be his best chance to succeed.
Most Troublesome Matchup: It appears that wide receiver, John Brown is healthy and ready to go after an injury filled 2016. Brown is nicknamed "Smoke" and you could guess it's due to his ability to get deep. It was a mental and physical struggle for him last season in which the Cardinals missed his ability to go make those vertical plays. Carson Palmer, who normally is a very good deep passer, struggled without him in the lineup.
Most Favorable Matchup: Former first-round selection D.J. Humphries is the starter at right tackle and he has the most problems, run or pass. He's not a strong player and that affects the way he blocks. He tends to struggle with his body control and balance, which is a big issue. He works hard to stay in position, but he is just not consistent enough doing it. He has the athletic ability feet wise but that's really it.
Unsung Storyline: What was once a home-field advantage, Dallas has lost its last four meetings with the Cardinals with three of those losses coming in the desert. University of Phoenix Stadium has been strange place for the Cowboys to play – weird scores and overtimes have been the norm.