Cowboys vs Cardinals: 6 things to know about Week 3 opponent

The schedule says the Dallas Cowboys will play on the road against the Arizona Cardinals in their Week 3 matchup. However, the reality is there might be just as many Cowboys fans in State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona as there are Cardinals fans.

Fans always travel well for their beloved Cowboys, but with the state of both franchises, it’s understandable why Jerry Jones’ team will have significant backing in Week 3. Dallas has looked like one of the best teams in the league in the first two weeks, while the Cardinals have yet to win a game. With the home team one of the favorites to earn the first pick in the draft, this could get ugly.

Here are six things to know about the Week 3 opponents for the Cowboys.

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Joshua Dobbs is the starting QB

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

This game could’ve been billed as Kyler Murray against his hometown team, but the quarterback suffered a torn ACL late in the 2022 season and is currently on injured reserve. The Cardinals have floundered in signal callers since the injury and settled on the Dobbs late this summer, trading for the veteran QB.

Dobbs has been in the league four years and hasn’t won any of his four starts, which includes a 27-13 loss to the Cowboys as a member of the Tennessee Titans last December. In that contest, Dobbs threw for 232 yards, one score and was intercepted once as well. It was good effort from Dobbs, who had been added to the Titans just a few weeks earlier.

Dallas will be better prepared for Dobbs this time around. Although the QB has thrown for one touchdown and run for a score through two games, he hasn’t turned the ball over yet. Dan Quinn’s defense will be a big test for Dobbs.

Cardinals are 0-2 against the NFC East

(Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports)
(Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports)

The NFL schedule makers had an interesting twist for the Cardinals to start this season, matching them up against an NFC East foe in each of the first three weeks. That’s a tough road since the division had no team under .500 last year and sent three teams to the playoffs. It’s arguably the toughest division in football and the Cardinals are being asked to play three teams right out of the gate without their starting quarterback.

Predictably, the team lost on the road in Week 1 to the Washington Commanders and then blew a 20-point lead in a crushing defeat to the New York Giants last week. Now here comes the Cowboys, one of the top teams in the league. Yet in both of Arizona’s losses, the games have been close, and the Cardinals have had chances to win each game in the fourth quarter.

Arizona, despite its 0-2 record and lack of elite talent, has played some good football and shouldn’t be overlooked in Week 3.

Arizona has been a house of horrors

(AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
(AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

It has been a rough go for the Cowboys against the Cardinals since 2008, where Dallas has gone just 1-5 in their matchups in that time. Included in those losses were some oddities that have benefited Cardinals, while playing at home.

It began in 2008 when the Cowboys had a punt blocked that was returned for a score in overtime. In 2010, the Cowboys scored a touchdown late in the game, but David Buehler missed the extra point and the team led by two points instead of three. The Cardinals went down the field in the last minute and Jay Feely made a 48-yard field goal to give Arizona a one-point win on a game played on Christmas Day.

The following year, the Cowboys were setting up for a field goal to win the game when head coach Jason Garrett called a timeout to ice his own kicker as time was running out. Dan Bailey missed the 49-yard kick and the game went into overtime, where the Cardinals scored a touchdown on the first possession.

Dallas also lost to the Cardinals during the memorable 2014 season when quarterback Tony Romo couldn’t play because of a back injury.

The last time the Cowboys beat Arizona was in 2017, when Dak Prescott had an impressive touchdown pass to WR Brice Buter, and fellow receiver Dez Bryant carried defenders into the end zone on one of his more memorable touchdowns.

Beating the Cardinals hasn’t been an easy task, especially on the road.

James Conner is a problem

(Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports)
(Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports)

The offense for the Cardinals doesn’t have much talent, but they do have a good running back in James Conner. The seventh-year veteran RB is sixth in the league in rushing with 168 yards through the first two weeks and is averaging 4.5 yards a carry.

Conner is a physical runner who had 17 total touchdowns in 2021 and backed that up with 10 scores last year in just 13 games. The Cardinals’ offense runs through Conner, who also contributes as a pass catcher with at least 34 receptions in five straight seasons.

On the money downs, Conner is the go-to for the Cardinals. He has rushed for 10 first downs, and caught a first down pass as well. The Dallas defense needs to slow down Conner, who will likely be the focal point of the Arizona offense.

Isn't much to their passing game

(Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports)
(Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports)

While the Cardinals do have a solid run game, they have one of the worst passing offenses in the league. Dobbs leads a passing attack that averages just 171 yards a game and has just one touchdown through the air.

Wide receiver Marquise Brown leads the team in receiving yards with just 82 and has the only score. However, tight end Zach Ertz is Dobbs’ favorite receiver, with 12 catches on a team-leading 18 targets. No other offensive weapon has more than seven targets in the passing game.

The Cowboys have one of the best secondaries in the league, both deep and talented. It’s hard to see how the Cardinals can have much success throwing against Dallas’ passing defense.

They have a good pass rush

Story originally appeared on Cowboys Wire