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Arizona Cardinals vs Dallas Cowboys - Five Key Matchups

Sam Acho will need to lead the Cardinals pass-rush when the Dallas Cowboys ride into University of Phoenix Stadium.
Sam Acho will need to lead the Cardinals pass-rush when the Dallas Cowboys ride into University of Phoenix Stadium.

Fresh off completing a season sweep of the St Louis Rams the Arizona Cardinals will be looking to get one over their old NFC East Rivals the Dallas Cowboys. While the matchup may not be what is used to be there is still a rivalry between the two teams as they look forward to their second matchup in two years. Last season a missed Extra Point allowed John Skelton to make a name for himself with a late drive leading to a game winning field goal. Both teams are in vastly different positions than they were as they faced off last season, the 4-7 Cardinals look like a team that with come competent Quarterback play could be pushing for a Wildcard spot, while the Cowboys sit atop the NFC East and have won four of their last five. The two teams provide some intriguing matchups that could hold the winning and losing of the game on their outcomes, can the Cardinals get the better of the Cowboys, Read on...

Patrick Peterson and Richard Marshall vs Dez Bryant and Laurent Robinson.

With Miles Austin looking like he could miss this game, the matchup between the Cardinals corners and the Cowboys receivers is going to be all the more interesting. Dez Bryant has had a solid season so far over 600 yard and 6 TD's and he presents a matchup nightmare for most, but in Patrick Peterson the Cardinals have a player who can physically and athletically matchup with him. It will be interesting to see whether Horton has Peterson shadow Bryant or play a side of the field. Laurent Robinson is having a breakout season and Richard Marshall is guaranteed to have his hands full, Robinsons 7 TD's leads all Cowboys and keeping him out of the endzone will be a tough ask for the veteran Marshall.

DeMarcus Ware vs the Cardinals Blocking Schemes.

DeMarcus Ware is arguably the best pure pass rusher in the NFL. The Cowboys are going to move him around, make it had to double team him by design and let him use his athleticism to make plays. The entire Cardinals offensive line will have their hands full on Sunday and one mistake could turn the game. The use of tight ends and in particular rookie Fullback Anthony Sherman in the blocking game will be imperative, provide an extra body for Ware to get through to make a play, wear him down and limit his effectiveness as the game progresses. It is near impossible to shutdown a player of the quality of Ware and the best you can hope for is to limit his impact. Russ Grimm and the Cardinals offensive staff best have a plan to limit Ware.

Jason Witten vs Daryl Washington and Adrian Wilson.

Jason Witten is the number one target of Tony Romo and he will look to him early, often and on any down in any area of the field. A true complete Tight End, Witten has been limited to just 100 yards over his last two games against the Cardinals, but it has been a tough ask. It is likely the combination of the veteran Wilson and the athletic linebacker Washington will see the majority of the coverage snaps against Witten. He is going to get his catches, so it is about making the plays on offer, do not let Witten get his YAC, prevent him from being a big target on third downs and in the redzone and make the big play when it offers itself, both Wilson and Washington have dropped multiple interceptions in 2011, Romo is likely to force a ball to Witten at some stage and they need to be alert and take advantage of the bad decisions.

Sam Acho vs Tyron Smith.

Sam Acho a fourth round pick for the Cardinals was likely not expected to make this much of an impact this early in his career, but the Texas made pass rusher has five sacks to his name in as many starts. He will be matched up for most of the day on fellow rookie Tyron Smith, who after a hot start to the season has hit the rookie wall and the 6.5 sacks allowed on the season could increase as Acho is just beginning to heat up. It will be imperative for the Cardinals to get pressure on Tony Romo and force him to make ill advised throws into tight coverage windows and Acho has quickly stepped into the role of the Cardinals best pass rusher. Turnovers are a huge part of every football game, and the best way to create turnovers is by creating a pass rush.

Kevin Kolb vs Field Rust.

Kevin Kolb has spent the past four weeks on the sideline watching the Cardinals go 3-1 without him in the lineup, however poor Quarterback play has made the choice to go back to the prized asset easy. However four weeks out of a game situation is going to make this a very tough game especially with DeMarcus Ware bearing down on you. Kolb needs to show marked improvement in numerous areas of his game, not the least of which is his pocket awareness and pocket movement. Over the first half of the season it was all to common to see Kolb take off to his right after sensing the slightest amount of pressure. Doing this plays right into the hands of the defense, cuts your field in half, helps to break down protection schemes and ruins any and all timing patterns. If he does so against Dallas on Sunday the game is as good as lost, however if he shows improvement in this area, can stand in the pocket and make accurate throws then the Cardinals could see themselves come out on the right side of the scoreline.