The Arizona Cardinals face their biggest test to date this Sunday when the Dallas Cowboys come to town. The Cardinals have played lights-out at home so far but they'll have to bring their A-game if they want to send the Cowboys home with a loss. Given the Cowboys' injury issues in the secondary and the fact that there offense isn't clicking right now, the Cardinals have a chance to register a big win in front of a near-national audience and stake claim to their legitmacy as a contender. Here's what they have to do in order to come out with a WIN:
Shut Down the Cowboys Running Game: Dallas' running game is potent and they've got the duo at running back and the offensive line to dominate a game. If they get MBIII and Jones going early, their offense can do just about anything they please. If the Cardinals can shut down the running game early or jump out to an early lead, the Dallas offense will become one dimensional though. The Redskins frustated the Boys' running game early in their game, then dropped 17 points on them in the fourth quarter before giving Dallas their only loss on the year. The result was the Boys only ran the ball 11 times for 44 yards. Make no mistake about it, this offense can be frustrated if things don't go right for them early in a game.
Win the Battle of Feild Position: This incorporates several aspects of the game including the kicking game, ball control and defense. In the kicking game, they need to cover punts and kicks well. On kickoffs, Felix Jones is amazing (27.5 avg) and he's already took a kick back for a score and he's got two 40+ yard returns. On punt returns, Adam Jones hasn't put it together yet (4.7 avg) but I'm sure we can all remember him from his days in Tennessee. The Cardinals can't allow a big return and they can't give the Cowboys offense a short field because of a turnover. The Cowboys are too good to give them a short field or easy scores.
Keep Warner Upright: The Cowboys' defense is based on pressuring the quarterback, especially with DeMarcus Ware and Greg Ellis. The Cardinals success as a team greatly depends on Kurt Warners ability to get the ball to his playmakers. Obviously this will be a big key for each team. The Cardinals offensive line, most importantly Mike Gandy and Levi Brown, have to play a good game and the Cardinals might have to keep an extra back or tight end in the backfield to pick up any extra blitzers. If they can limit the Cowboys pressure or force Dallas to bring 6 or more rushers in order to get to Warner, the passing game should have a big game.
Thoughts? Agree/Disagree? What other things must the Cardinals do beat the Cowboys?