Cardinals vs Cowboys Game Preview
The NFL’s oldest franchise takes on the NFL’s most popular as the Cardinals visit Arlington, Texas, home of the Cowboys. Despite the Cowboys dominating the majority of their all-time series, the Cardinals have had their number in recent meetings.
Both teams were powerhouses not too long ago with the Cardinals winning 13 games in 2015 and the Cowboys in 2016. While Dallas upgraded during the offseason, Arizona is in the middle of a rebuild starting with their quarterback where they welcome not one but two signal callers.
After an 8-8 finish in 2017, the Bruce Arians effectively ended in Arizona. Former Panthers defensive coordinator Steve Wilks takes the reins with a quarterback controversy already on his plate.
The Cardinals paid a boatload for oft-injured quarterback Sam Bradford then inexplicably traded up the draft to draft UCLA pivot Josh Rosen. Whereas they didn’t have a QB in 2017, now they have two potentially solid ones if either can stay off the injured reserve.
If 2016 was a dream season for Dallas, 2017 is them waking up. Superstar running back Ezekiel Elliott served a six-game suspension and injuries hit the team hard on both sides of the ball.
Dallas is hoping for better luck in 2018 and with a full season with Zeke, they are aiming for a return to the playoffs. But this isn’t quite the same squad from two seasons ago so expectations must be tempered.
The Cardinals are only 1-5 in Arlington dating back to the start of the century although that one win came most recently. They have some star power but not much else. Dallas is sporting a more complete team and their depth should carry them to a win.
Cardinals vs Cowboys Head-to-Head Records
The Cowboys-Cardinals “rivalry” is one of the NFL’s oldest and one of its most lopsided. Dallas has controlled the series winning 56 of their 89 meetings. It began in 1960, the Cowboys’ inaugural season. The Cardinals, then still playing in St. Louis, defeated them 12-10.
St. Louis would win the next six games until 1963, then the Cowboys would win their first of many games. The Cowboys’ dominance began in 1965. Dallas would go on to win 31 of their next 42 games including two different stretches where they won six and seven games straight.
Now having relocated to Phoenix, the Cardinals would achieve some redemption by winning four in a row, their longest streak since their first six games. But then Dallas would get right back in the driver’s seat winning 13 straight games and 16 of the next 17 from 1990 to 1998. Arizona would snap the streak in their only playoff meeting in 1999.
In recent years, both teams have regained prominence although Arizona’s won more games since 2008. Arizona hasn’t won in Arlington since the ’99 playoff game but both teams appear close to each other’s level. Future meetings should be more competitive although the series could once shift to Dallas’s favour.
Arizona Cardinals Recent History
Regardless where they play, the Cardinals don’t win a lot. Through their near-hundred long existence, they have made a grand total of eight playoff appearances. They won two NFL Championships while still in Chicago and made only three playoffs, all losses, while in St. Louis from 1960 to 1987.
When they relocated to Phoenix, the Cardinals didn’t make the playoffs until their tenth season making it to the divisional playoffs, their first playoff victory in half a century. They had a Cinderella season in 2008 led by the legendary Kurt Warner and Larry Fitzerald, the franchise’s greatest player where they would make their first and only Super Bowl appearance.
Since this run, Arizona has been to three more playoffs most recently losing in the NFC Championship game in 2015. With more uncertainty facing the franchise particularly on offence, they are likely in for another playoff drought although how long is anyone’s guess.
Dallas Cowboys Recent History
Controversially known as “America’s Team”, the Cowboys were most prominent during the ’70’s and ’90s where they won the glut of their Super Bowls. They lost their first three championship appearances but broke through in 1971 in what would be their first of five Super Bowl victories.
In the ’90s, they won three Super Bowls in four years and were the preeminent football franchise. Led by legends like Roger Staubach, Emmitt Smith, and Troy Aikman, the Cowboys rarely went through extensive stretches without making the playoffs with their first six years being their longest drought.
Yet since 1998, Dallas has been mediocre at best. They’ve only won five division titles and have two playoff wins in 10 games despite fielding plenty of All-Pro talents a few Hall of Famers. With a new era focused around a young team, not only should their talents match to the sky-high expectations but so should their mental fortitude.
Arizona Cardinals Outlook
Cardinals’ general manager Steve Keim knows how critical having a good quarterback is to the team’s success so he overcompensated for 2017 by taking two. The problem is, both Bradford and Rosen are injury-prone and enigmatic. At least they still arguably the best running back in David Johnson.
Outside quarterback, the Cardinals are also in dire need of receivers. Outside Fitzgerald, who is 34, the Cardinals lack playmakers. Their offensive line is patchy despite drafting Mason Cole to play as centre. And on defence, they have holes to fill everywhere.
Chandler Jones (DE) and Patrick Peterson (CB) are two elite talents but they just lost Tyran Mathieu at safety and need a pass rusher and corner to pair with Jones and Peterson, respectively. Arizona still has talent and but they need another good offseason or two to be considered a legitimate contender again.
Dallas Cowboys Outlook
The Cowboys went with the “less is more” motto this offseason by cutting ties with mercurial receiver Dez Bryant. He wasn’t the only high-profile Cowboy to go. Long-time tight end Jason Witten retired and several players on both offence and defence left.
Dallas didn’t do much to replace the pieces they lost. They acquired Allen Hurns (WR) to replace Bryant and drafted linebacker Leighton Vander Esch. Their defence remains solid. Their o-line, despite not being as dominant as it once was will still be great.
This is a different-looking Cowboys team but they’ll have to make do with the pieces they have. Jason Garrett is on a short leash and could finally see his walking papers if the Boys don’t make the playoffs. Quarterback Dak Prescott will also feel the pressure if he has another subpar season. They may be young, but the Cowboys need to win now.
Arizona and Dallas are on the same boat: they used to be good, but they’re not that good now. And the new pieces they acquired aren’t exactly going to replace the pieces they lost. Neither Bradford nor Rosen will probably be as good as Carson Palmer, at least not this season. And Prescott lost his best wideout.
The defences should be better than the offences. Dallas’s defence is capable of stopping either the run or pass but it depends how well Prescott and the offence can convert. If they fall behind, Johnson will be a problem to deal with as Bradford or Rosen can simply manage the offence.
Same could apply for the Cowboys. Prescott is limited as a quarterback and will be much better if the offence can feed Zeke as the defence contains Johnson. Overall, it’s easier to lean on Prescott and backup Brandon Weeden than whatever Arizona has.