Week 13 Preview: Cards vs. Cowboys
You can count on three things when the Cowboys come to town, a stadium more than halfway full of Cowboys fans, lots of trash talk from those arrogant Cowboys fans and a close game.
Amazingly 15 out of the 18 games the Cardinals and Cowboys have played in Arizona since the Cardinals came to the desert have been decided by 8 points or less. Interestingly enough the Cardinals and Cowboys have split those 18 games (not the same case in Dallas) with the Cardinals winning six of the last seven. Even though the Cowboys are 7-4 and in the midst of a four-game winning streak I expect no different on Sunday.
This game will be a huge barometer for the Cardinals defense to see just how much they’ve improved in the past month, as they are taking on a well-balanced Cowboys offense who is ranked 6th in the NFL in total yards coming into this Week 13 matchup.
The Cowboys should be without Miles Austin for another week as he recovers from his hamstring injury, so expect a lot of Patrick Peterson on Dez Bryant (great matchup of young talents) and A.J. Jefferson on Laurent Robinson, who has taken full advantage of his opportunity to start while Austin’s been out, scoring seven touchdowns in the last five weeks. The biggest concern might be covering Jason Witten though as that will most likely be a group effort between Richard Marshall and Adrian Wilson. I have a feeling the Cardinals will contain Romo enough to stay in the game and create a few turnovers in the process. The onus might be on the secondary to get the job done as the Cowboys have given up the 9th least sacks in the NFL this season (20).
The real key to slowing down the Cowboys offense this Sunday is to make them one-dimensional by slowing down DeMarco Murray and Cowboys rushing attack, something that’s not easy to do (Murray has rushed for 761 yards and 6.6 yards per carry average in the past six games)
When it comes to the Cardinals on offense it will all be about Beanie being able to gash the Cowboys defense and keep them honest for a returning Kolb and the Cardinals passing game. The Cowboys are ranked 10th in rush defense, but Beanie’s confidence is at an all-time high after an amazing 228 performance last week (Murray also had over 200 against the Rams, had to mention it).
The Cowboys have a middle of the road pass defense (15th), but don’t give many deep passing plays (only 3 of 40+ on the season) so Kolb will likely have to pick and choose his spots in order to any mistakes. The biggest concern for the Cardinals coming into Sunday’s game should be pass protection; the Cardinals have given up the third most sacks in the NFL so far this season (39) and the Cowboys have the NFL’s leading pass rusher in DeMarcus Ware (14 sacks).
The Cardinals usually play well against the Cowboys at home and I have a feeling Kolb will come back with a better game than people think, as he’s had a month to watch from the sidelines and get a firmer grasp on the Cardinals offense. Although the Cowboys are winners of four straight, three of which have been at home and all have been against under .500 teams. That’s why I’m predicting the Cardinals in another Cardinals-Cowboy thriller in the desert.
Prediction: Cards 24, Cowboys 23
Stats courtesy of NFL.com
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