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Cowboys at Cardinals: Writer predictions for first game without Trevon Diggs

Can the Cowboys live up to their status as favorites, or will this become a trap game?

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

The Cowboys are getting ready to travel to Arizona to take on a Cardinals team they’re favored to beat by 12.5 points, tying the Chiefs (facing the unraveling Bears) for the largest spread of the week. The difference is the Cowboys won’t be playing this one on their home turf, and they’ll also be doing it without standout cornerback Trevon Diggs.

They will, however, be enjoying the return of Tyler Smith, Brandin Cooks, and Donovan Wilson from injuries; Smith and Wilson will be making their season debuts. While Zack Martin and Tyler Biadasz are questionable, there seems to be optimism that the Cowboys will enter this game almost entirely healthy outside of Diggs. So do our writers believe that Dallas can live up to their potential, or does anyone think this could actually be a trap game? Let’s find out.

When Arizona has the ball

Win the early downs

The Cardinals offense, run by first-time offensive coordinator Drew Petzing, is proving to be just about as run-heavy as the Browns, where Petzing coached the last three years. James Conner, the bellcow for this rushing attack, is fourth in carries through the first two weeks. The Cardinals have sought to establish the run early in games, with a 51.7% run rate on early downs so far this year.

Conner had a great game last week against a Giants defense that’s susceptible to the run, and as a result Arizona’s offense scored three touchdowns. He didn’t fare as well against Washington in Week 1, and the Cardinals only managed to score field goals in that one. Starting quarterback Josh Dobbs has yet to throw an interception, largely because he isn’t asked to do too much, but if the Cowboys can shut down Conner and this run game on early downs it will force Dobbs into situations that nobody in Arizona wants him to be in.

When Dallas has the ball

Get Dak Prescott in a rhythm

The Cowboys are very familiar with this defensive scheme, as Cardinals head coach Jonathan Gannon and defensive coordinator Nick Rallis were in Philadelphia the last two years. They bring the same principles - two-deep safeties, minimal blitzing, lots of zone coverage - to the table in Arizona as they did for the Eagles.

The problem (for Arizona) is that Dak Prescott made a habit of carving up those defense whenever he faced off against them. In the three games he played against Gannon and Rallis, Prescott averaged 293 yards on 78.4% completion rate while throwing 11 touchdowns with only one pick. The Cardinals don’t have the kind of talent on defense that Philly had either, so getting Prescott in a rhythm is a good way to get up on this team early.

Now onto the predictions from your BTB writers...

Tom Ryle (2-0):

This looks like the third in a very consistent opening stretch of games for the Cowboys. The Cardinals just look overmatched, and if you put any faith at all in the transitive principle for sports (you really shouldn’t) the fact the team Dallas beat 40-0 came back from a 21-point deficit to beat Arizona in Phoenix just presages another easy win for the Cowboys, who look to be better at every position on the roster.

Trevon Diggs’ unfortunate injury is a challenge, but in Dan Quinn I trust. The only fear is the dreaded trap game phenomenon, but Mike McCarthy looks to be nipping that one in the bud.

I think we see another multi score win for Dallas, 34-9.

Tony Catalina (2-0):

Barring something absolutely insane this game should not end up being overly competitive. Make no mistake about it though the Cowboys can and have been picked off in these situations before, but this team just feels different.

The Cowboys will be as healthy as they have been all season and that should reflect on the field versus an inferior Cardinals team. I tend to lean more conservative than most may choose too, but the Cowboys win handily.

Cowboys win, 30-13.

Matt Holleran (2-0):

Even after the unfortunate news that they will be without Trevon Diggs, there’s no way I see the Cowboys losing this game. Arizona’s defense struggled to stop the Giants from moving the ball last week. There’s no way I see them being able to slow down a much more talented Cowboys’ offense.

On defense, I see Joshua Dobbs’ turnover luck end as Dallas’ constant pressure forces him into two turnovers. This game looks similar to Dallas’ Week 1 effort against the Giants as the Cowboys win in a laugher.

Give me the Cowboys, 41-13.

Brandon Loree (2-0):

It’s devastating what happened to Trevon Diggs and losing him for the season, but that shouldn’t give the Cardinals an immediate advantage to win this game. Not only will the Cowboys rally behind Diggs to win, but I believe the offense will be at its best so far this season. Cooks should be coming back healthy.

Give me Cowboys winning 30-10, just like last week against the Jets with CeeDee Lamb going for over 120 yards and two touchdowns.

Matthew Lenix (2-0):

The Cowboys suffered a huge loss with All-Pro cornerback Trevon Diggs going down for the season with a torn ACL on Thursday. If it does affect them negatively, it won’t be against the Cardinals. Look for Micah Parsons and the Cowboys’ defense to have another dominant performance against the Cardinals 23rd ranked offense as Dallas cruises to a win.

Cowboys win, 38-7.

Mike Poland (2-0):

Since the start of the 2022 season no team has scored more points in the NFL than the Dallas Cowboys. In that same time the Arizona Cardinals have allowed the second-most points on defense. With the Cardinals offensive line in disarray and facing the team with the most sacks to start the season, expect another week of multiple pressures and sacks.

Cowboys win three in a row, 35-13.

Brian Martin (2-0):

There’s no doubt in my mind the Dallas Cowboys walk away with yet another “W” after their Week 3 matchup with the Arizona Cardinals. The only question is, how badly will they beat the team that lost last week to the New York Giants, a team Dallas beat 40-0 in the season opener?

Cowboys 34, Cardinals 3.

RJ Ochoa (2-0):

The second half of this week was obviously very difficult for the Dallas Cowboys, but it does not change the fact that they are one of the best teams in the entire NFL. Very rarely does a team blowout another when that is the expectation so I will dial back my predicted point total, but it is hard to see any other way but the Cowboys winning this one.

Give me Dallas along the lines of 27-19.

David Howman (2-0):

There was a part of me that was worried the Cowboys might be overlooking what’s turned out to be a scrappy Cardinals team through two weeks. But after seeing the players’ reactions to the tragic injury of Trevon Diggs, I’m convinced these guys are locked in and hoping to take out their anger on the Cardinals.

Instead of the Broncos in 2021 or Jaguars last year, I’m now thinking of the Falcons game two years ago or the Vikings from a year ago. A game where the opponent didn’t really do anything wrong, but they just happened to run into a significantly more talented team who feel like they’ve had something taken from them. I expect big games from Jake Ferguson and Donovan Wilson, in particular, and this could get out of hand real fast.

Cowboys win 45-15.

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