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Cowboys at Cardinals: A fast facts and stats game preview for Week 3

The Cowboys are big favorites in this game against the Cardinals. We take a look at stats, facts, and a little history to project the game.

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

Ed. Note: This article was written before the Trevon Diggs injury news broke. Obviously that will have a big effect on the Cowboys, but that is why it’s barely mentioned here.

The Dallas Cowboys will make their Week 3 stand in the desert, battling the Arizona Cardinals. Everyone likely knows that the Cowboys have started the season in the best possible way, trouncing the two New York teams (Giants, Jets) by a combined score of 70-10. In many ways, the start is historical.

That point margin of +60 is the second highest in Cowboys history to start a season, only topped by the 1968 team at +67. Since the start of the Super Bowl era, only five teams have scored 70+ points in their first two games while only giving up 10 points or less at the same time. The 2023 Cowboys, the 2019 New England Patriots, the 1970 Detroit Lions, the 1967 Oakland Raiders and the 1966 Houston Oilers.

If the Dallas defense can hold the Cardinals to under 16 points in the upcoming game, they set the franchise mark for points allowed in their first three games. The record is held by the 1974 Cowboys at 27 points allowed.

So the Cowboys are sitting in rare territory with their start. It’s actually the first time ever that a Cowboys team has played the first two games of a season without turning the ball over.

Meanwhile, the Cardinals have started 0-2. You do have to give them credit as they were very close to winning both games over the Cowboys NFC East compatriots, the Washington Commanders and the New York Giants. But the team went cold in the second half of both games to lose.

As a result, the Cowboys enter the game as heavy favorites. DraftKings Sportsbook has Dallas as 12.5 point favorites. (With the Trevon Diggs news, this line may move). Double-digit spreads are rare, but the Cowboys have been easily covering spreads this season.

Dallas and Arizona have met 91 times, including one playoff game. The Cowboys lead the all-time series 56-34-1, but over the last seven games the Cardinals have a 6-1 record against the Cowboys, including two straight wins. This is a team the Cowboys have struggled with recently, and Dallas will be on the road.

The Cowboys changed their offensive scheme over the offseason, utilizing more West Coast principles that Mike McCarthy is very familiar with from all of his coaching days. One part of that change was to give Dak Prescott some easier throws to make and to limit his turnover-worthy throws. So far, it has worked, Prescott doesn't have an interception this year and his turnover-worthy throws are limited.

Another element the Cowboys were hoping to utilize in their new ‘Texas Coast’ offense was speed and yards after the catch. They brought in Brandin Cooks, drafted Deuce Vaughn, and have given more prominent roles to Tony Pollard and KaVontae Turpin. They are all threats in space with the ball in their hands. You can throw CeeDee Lamb into that mix, too.

The idea is to throw the ball short and let the playmakers work. So far, they are seeing decent results. They average third lowest amount of air yards per pas (5.5 yards), but they are 12th in the league in YAC with 232 yards.

Speaking of a more prominent role for Pollard, he has 48 touches on the season. That’s the most since Ezekiel Elliott had 53 in 2020. The Cowboys are using Pollard as a bell-cow running back.

A few quick hits:

  • Sunday’s start will be Dak Prescott’s 100th, and he will be the only QB in history with 150 TD passes and 25 rushing TDs in their first 100 career games.
  • Brandon Aubrey currently leads the NFL with 26 points scored through two games.

It’s hard to see Dallas losing this game unless they just start turning the ball over, something they have masterfully avoided so far. The Dallas defense is elite, while the Cardinals offense is going to struggle with Josh Dobbs at quarterback. Go ahead and take the Cowboys to cover.

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