Pay Attention to This: Cowboys-Cardinals Preview

Jason Garrett vs. the Arizona Cardinals
Garrett is 0-3 against the Cardinals. The teams last played in 2014, when Brandon Weeden started because Tony Romo was nursing a back injury sustained the previous week against Washington. The Cardinals’ four-game wining streak against Dallas is tied for the second longest in franchise history.

Key Matchup
There’s been a lot of conversation this week about whether Dez Bryant remains an elite receiver. Well, he’ll get another chance to prove it against Patrick Peterson, who’s considered among the NFL’s best cornerbacks.

Bryant has been targeted 25 times in the first two games, which leads the NFL, but he has only nine catches for 102 yards. He has one catch of more than 20 yards, and his catch percentage (36.0) is among the lowest in the league.

If Peterson can make Bryant a non-factor without much safety help, then the Cardinals are free to double cover tight end Jason Witten or slot receiver Cole Beasley or use another defender against the run.

Bryant had two catches for 15 yards the last time these two players matched up, but Weeden was throwing Bryant the ball.

We haven’t seen the Cowboys with Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott as the stars take a butt-kicking like they did in last week’s 42-17 loss to Denver. Prescott has been criticized this week as has Elliott who gave a poor effort on each of Prescott’s two  interceptions.

The defense has been criticized too for shoddy tackling. Now we’ll see how they respond. Will they prove last week was an aberration? If not, then this team isn't as good as we thought.

Key Stat
Elliott, who led the NFL in runs of 10 yards (48) or more and 20 yards (nine) or more has one carry of 10 yards or more in 33 carries this season.

The running game sets up the play-action passes, which are a big part of Prescott’s passing game. Prescott doesn’t throw many deep balls, so the running game also provides the Cowboys with several big plays that set up scoring drives.

With a pedestrian running game, it’s much harder for the Cowboys to score touchdowns.

Cowboys Gameplan
The Cowboys threw 11 passes in the first quarter against Denver last week, and they threw 16 passes in the first quarter against the New York Giants in the opener.

Three times during an eight-minute news conference this week, Prescott said the Cowboys wouldn’t lose any confidence in their schemes or their approach.

That sounds like an indication the Cowboys are going to try to get their running game going early against Arizona.

Throwing 47.5 passes a game isn’t a formula for winning football with Prescott as quarterback.

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