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Cowboys vs. Cardinals: Opponent Player of the Week and Cowboys X-factor players

If the Cowboys want to win this game they will need to do something they haven’t all season, stop the run.

NFL: Arizona Cardinals at New York Jets Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Opponent Player of the Week

NFL: Detroit Lions at Arizona Cardinals Michael Chow-USA TODAY NETWORK

Quarterback - Kyler Murray

2020 Stats: 1,299 yards passing and eight touchdowns, 296 yards rushing, five touchdowns, six interceptions

Kyler Murray has been a one-man wrecking crew for the Arizona Cardinals offense this season. Getting the job done with this legs as well as his arm, he makes it hard for defenses to figure out how to defend him. What makes it more troublesome is the addition of wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins who has opened up the passing game for Murray.

Just like last week, the Cowboys defensive line and linebackers are going to need to either keep a spy on Murray or play sound football by keeping containment on the edges and filling the right gaps when getting up the field. The corners and safeties will also need to keep their eyes on the receivers and not Murray if they want to stop the Cardinals effective play-action passing game.

If they can do that then they will give their offense a chance to keep pace with this Murray led offense.


Cowboys Offensive X-Factor Player

NFL: New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Quarterback - Andy Dalton

This was a pretty easy one to pick this week as Dalton will be making his first start this season for the Cowboys. Dalton’s play last week was efficient and effective enough to lead the Cowboys to a victory. This week he will have to deal with another top 10 defense in the Cardinals. The good news for Dalton is that fact that the Cardinals will be without their best pass rusher, Chandler Jones, who is out for the season with a torn pectoral sustained last week.

That injury should give Dalton more time in the pocket to find open receivers or check downs to his running backs. If the Cowboys want to have any chance of winning this game, they will have to score points to keep pace with Murray and the Cardinals offense. Dalton will also need some help for running back Ezekiel Elliott who must get the Cardinals to think about stopping the run first to take more pressure off Dalton.

Cowboys Defensive X-Factor Player(s)

Washington Redskins v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Linebackers - Leighton Vander Esch, Jaylon Smith, and Joe Thomas

The most important players on the field this week for the Cowboys will be their linebackers. The Cardinals are able to open up their offense thanks to an effective running game with Chase Edmounds, Kenyan Drake, and quarterback Kyler Murray. The Cardinals complement a strong ground game with play-action passing downfield. For the Cowboys to win this game they will need to shut down, or at least limit, the Cardinals ability to pick up big yards on early downs.

The linebackers will also need to drop back into coverage and cover running backs out of the back field. Look for the Cowboys to use a similar defensive game plan as the one used to keep quarterback Russell Wilson from beating them with his legs. Look for Smith doing a lot of spying on the quarterback on Monday night.