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Dallas Cowboys 2023 opponent preview: Two Cardinals to keep an eye on

Today we check out the Cowboys' week three opponent, the Arizona Cardinals.

Arizona Cardinals v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images

Cardinals File

2022 Record: 4-13 (4th in NFC West)

Last Meeting: 01/02/2022 Arizona Cardinals victory 25-22. (Cowboys lead series 56-34-1)

Head Coach: Jonathan Gannon (0-2 as a head coach)

Key Additions: LB Kyzir White, WR Zach Pascal, QB Josh Dobbs

Key Departures: DL Zach Allen, CB Byron Murphy Jr., OL Cody Ford, LB Isaiah Simmons

2022 Overview

The 2022 campaign for the Arizona Cardinals was a rough one and with a new coaching staff and a new philosophical change underway, it looks as if things may get worse before they get better. The Cardinals are believed by many, to be “organically tanking” as they have made some interesting roster moves and shipped out some potentially helpful talent with the idea being that they have their eye for the future.

At the end of the day, they do have a roster of NFL talent who have pride and motivation to compete and win, and while that hasn’t come to fruition just yet in 2023, despite their 0-2 start to the season they played both the Washington Commanders and New York Giants tough in their first two weeks of action.

The Cowboys are clearly a better football team than the Cardinals and this should be a game Dallas handles with relative ease, but through two weeks this looks to be a scrappy Cardinals team that is looking to creep up and play spoiler to somebody this season.

Player to watch… James Conner

NFL: New York Giants at Arizona Cardinals Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

While it truly has been a “pick your poison” start to the season when it comes to the Cowboys' defense, no team has really been able to get going and establish a running game against the defense thus far. With the Cardinals, at such a talent deficit it is entirely conceivable to see them choose to run the ball and decide to control the clock if able to do so.

If that is the route they choose to go with, James Conner is a big, physical back who is capable of making big plays to keep them in the game. Conner is fresh off a 23-carry, 103-yard, and one-touchdown performance against the Giants last week, and has 168 yards on 37 carries on the year, good for 4.5 yards per carry through two games.

Conner is a back that is worthy of respect and is one of the few playmakers still on this Cardinals roster. It hasn’t rang true so far this season but the Cowboys' weakness defensively last year was the run game, and the fact that games have so quickly gotten out of hand so far hasn’t allowed teams to test the theory as much as they would like.

Look for the Cardinals to pursue the run game which acts as a ball control and fact-finding mission on offense while also limiting the turnover opportunities for the Cowboys' opportunistic secondary. If this plan is put into action, it starts and ends with Conner on Sunday afternoon.

Don’t forget about… Marquise Brown

NFL: New York Giants at Arizona Cardinals Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

While the Cardinals may have the idea of trying to ground-and-pound the Cowboys may sound good in theory, if this inferior Cardinals team finds themselves in the type of hole the Giants and New York Jets found themselves in in the first two weeks, it could end up being a pass-heavy afternoon for the team. If that were to happen, one name to not forget about is Cardinals wide receiver Marquise Brown.

Through two games so far, Brown has seen 15 targets catching nine of them for 82 yards and a touchdown. While this Cardinals offense is not confused for potent, Brown is a speed guy who is capable of taking the top off a defense if given the chance, and the Cowboys will need to have a plan in place to bottle the speedster up on Sunday.

As games go on quarterback Josh Dobbs, who was signed late in August, is going to continue to get more comfortable in the system and with his weapons. We haven't seen it all put together just yet, but the NFL can be funny at times and the Cowboys certainly do not want to be the butt of the joke this week.

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