In week 6, the Dallas Cowboys host the Arizona Cardinals. The Cowboys are coming off their second victory of the season while the Cardinals were also victorious in their week 5 matchup.
Dallas is now 2-3 on the season but will be without their star quarterback, Dak Prescott, for the remainder of the season. This will be the first start for Andy Dalton in a Cowboys uniform. Here are three keys to the game for the Dallas Cowboys against the Cardinals in week 6.
Feed Ezekiel Elliott
Ezekiel Elliott has always been a focal point of the Cowboys offense. However, now the Cowboys will lean on Elliott more than ever.
This will be the first game in Elliott’s career in which Dak Prescott will not be the starting quarterback. It’s hard to tell how Elliott will exactly fare in this game. He has never started a game without Prescott.
Although there will be no Prescott in this game, Elliott should get more carries and touches as a result.
It’s hard to believe that the Cowboys will let veteran Andy Dalton throw more than 40 times. As a result, Elliott might be handed the ball 25+ times this week against a mediocre Cardinals defense.
Elliott is also more hungry than ever. He has fewer than 100 rush yards in each of the first five games of the season for the first time in his career.
Although Elliott ranks in the top seven in carries, rushing yards and yards per game, his 4.1 yards per carry ranks 31st in the league.
Although Elliott can be prepared for more touches, he might see more stacked boxes than he usually does.
However, the Cowboys are going to have to feed Elliott at least 23 times to have a shot at this game. Getting Elliott going not only in the running game but also in the passing game can help the Cowboys control more of the game.
Stop the Run
Although Drake has struggled running the football in 2020, he has the opportunity to get his mojo back in week 6.
The Dallas Cowboys have been one of the worst run defenses in the NFL so far. They currently rank 28th in the NFL giving up an average of 155.8 rush yards per game.
Although they contained the Giants run game last week, only allowing 89 rush yards, they have stilled allowed the second-most rush yards over the last three games (171).
Another solid runner for the Cardinals is their young star quarterback Kyler Murray. Murray has been a problem for defenses all year long.
He currently ranks first amongst quarterbacks in rush yards, rushing touchdowns, rushing yards per game and yards per carry.
On the season, he has run 41 times for 296 yards and five touchdowns.
The Cowboys are going to have to contain Murray from getting out of the pocket and running. If the Cowboys can force Murray to throw instead of running, this can prove to be ideal.
This season, Murray has an interception in almost every game including a career-high three interceptions thrown in week 3 against the Detriot Lions.
Dallas has to be better against the run in week 6 against the Cardinals.
The Arizona Cardinals are a much-improved team from years prior. If the Cowboys are careless with the football, the Cardinals will capitalize on such opportunities.
This season, the Cowboys average 2.2 turnovers per game.
As for the Cardinals, they haven’t been able to force many turnovers this season. Through five weeks, they have only forced three turnovers (two fumbles and one interception).
After losing their best pass rusher in Chandler Jones, it could be harder for the defense to get pressure on quarterbacks as well.
Dallas has to be smarter on the offensive side as well. On the season, they have lost seven fumbles which leads the league. This also ties their fumbles losses from a season ago.
Dalton has been fairly smart when it comes to interceptions throughout his career. In nine seasons with the Bengals, Dalton threw less than 15 interceptions in six of nine seasons. He hasn’t thrown more than 15 interceptions in a season since 2014 when he threw 17.
If the Cowboys can hold onto the football without fumbling or throwing interceptions, it can help them tremendously in this game.
The Dallas Cowboys will do all it can against a much-improved Cardinals team. They will feed Elliott as much as they can and Dalton will show that he can be the starter in Dallas. However, the Cardinals will be too much for the Cowboys. The Cardinals offense will expose the Cowboys defense as Deandre Hopkins has another spectacular game. Although the Cowboys will lose, they will be happy to know that they can contend with playoff teams even with a backup quarterback.
Dallas Cowboys 30 – Arizona Cardinals 38
Featured Image Courtesy of the NFL