Week 3 Tale Of The Tape: Dallas Cowboys At Arizona Cardinals

DENVER, CO - SEPTEMBER 17: Quarterback Dak Prescott #4 of the Dallas Cowboys passes under pressure by the Denver Broncos defense in the fourth quarter of a game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on September 17, 2017 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)
INDIANAPOLIS, IN - SEPTEMBER 17: Carson Palmer #3 of the Arizona Cardinals throws a pass while under pressure from Margus Hunt #92 of the Indianapolis Colts in the fourth quarter of a game at Lucas Oil Stadium on September 17, 2017 in Indianapolis, Indiana. The Cardinals won 16-13 in overtime. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
  • Quarterback
    After a strong performance in the opening week of the season against the Giants, the Cowboys got pushed around by the Broncos on the road in Week Two. Quarterback Dak Prescott, who had basically played error-free football as a rookie, has already thrown two interceptions this season. Prescott is still a positive factor, but he is going to have to demonstrate that he can respond to adversity.
    The Cardinals have not played well to this point in the season, and they had to come from behind to beat a poor Indianapolis team in Week Two. Carson Palmer is likely coming to the end of his career at the end of this season or next, and he has struggled to this point with two TD passes and four interceptions. Palmer’s accuracy and escapability are both issues at this point.
  • Offense
    The Cowboys are dependent on Zeke Elliott remaining in the lineup, and it now appears that his suspension will not have to be served at any point in the foreseeable future. While he has been in the lineup, he was held to eight yards against the Broncos and that’s unacceptable. Dez Bryant is a threat on the outside, but the most dependable weapon remains tight end Jason Witten.
    The Cardinals are trying to adjust to life without star running back David Johnson, and they are hoping that Chris Johnson has enough left in the tank to give the running game a lift. WR J.J. Nelson has the speed to give the Cardinals big-play ability on the outside, but Larry Fitzgerald remains their most dependable receiver because of his hands and consistent route-running ability.
  • Defense
    The Cowboys have to put pressure on the opposing quarterback, and they have received a major contribution from defensive end Demarcus Lawrence who has 4.0 sacks after the first two games of the season. Sean Lee is a smart linebacker who is an excellent tackler, while cornerback Anthony Brown has three passes defensed and one interception.
    The Cardinals are allowing 24.0 points per game through the early part of the season, and while there is some individual talent in the secondary, there are indications that the defense will struggle in key situations. The Cardinals have allowed four TD passes in the first two games, but defensive end Chandler Jones has 3.0 sacks and has shown he can provide a solid pass rush.
  • Special Teams
    The Cowboys have a lot of confidence in their coverage teams, and they are hoping that Ryan Switzer can be a decent return man, but he has not done much to this point. Dan Bailey is one of the best placekickers in the league and Chris Jones excels at dropping his punts inside the 20.
    Veteran placekicker Phil Dawson missed the game-winning FG attempt at the end of the fourth quarter against Indianapolis, but he redeemed himself when he hit the winner in overtime. The return game looks ordinary to this point in the season.
The Cowboys were quite consistent a year ago, but they are coming off a struggling effort against the Broncos in Week Two. They need to rebound here against an Arizona team that appears to have a number of key weaknesses.