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Arizona Cardinals vs Dallas Cowboys: Matchups to watch

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What matchups will determine the Arizona Cardinals game against the Dallas Cowboys?

Dallas Cowboys v Arizona Cardinals Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

1. Tackling RB Ezekiel Elliott.

Will the Cardinals wear, as James Bettcher like to say, "their big boy pants?" Will any Cardinal line up and hit Elliott the way D.J. Swearinger (defensive captain of the Redskins) put a lick on Marshawn Lynch last night? in general, which team will tackle better?

2. Blocking DE DeMarcus Lawrence.

In watching the Cowboys' first two games, Lawrence has lined up primarily on the outside eye of the RT and he has been wreaking havoc off the edge and off loop stunts. A one-on-one matchup versus RT Jared Veldheer does not favor Veldheer. Therefore, what kind of help will the coaches give Veldheer? BA is loath to provide help, but does Lawrence change that line of thinking, particularly versus a struggling Veldheer?

3. Pass Coverages and Matchups

What are the coverage matchups and how often will Bettcher mix in zone? It would appear pretty certain that Patrick Peterson will be matched on Dez Bryant and that Tyrann Mathieu will be matched on slot WR Cole Beasley. Terrance Williams has been battling an ankle injury, but he did practice on Saturday. Justin Bethel should be matched on Williams. But, perhaps the most key matchup is the trio of Haason Reddick, Karlos Dansby and Tyvon Branch on TE Jason Witten. As for mixing in zones...that's a tough proposition because the Cowboys' receivers are adept at beating zones, particularly Bryant, Beasley and Witten. Pressure on young QB Dak Prescott is paramount, as is keeping him hemmed in the pocket. Will the Cardinals be able to limit Prescott's effectiveness?

4. The Cardinals' Passing Game

Can Carson Palmer and the Cardinals exploit the Cowboys' secondary? Much will depend on the pass protection. But, the Cowboys' secondary had a rough time handling the Broncos' passing game, often because of Trevor Siemien's mobility. Obviously, Palmer will have to try to beat the Cowboys' secondary from the pocket or off of play action (which may be harder to see if the running game is not clicking). The question too is how healthy the Cardinals WR unit is with John Brown out, J.J. Nelson nursing a hamstring injury and Jaron Brown leaving the Colts' game with a limp. Could we see more from Fitz, Brittan Golden and Chad Williams? Or will we see more attention paid to the TEs (Gresham, Niklas, Momah) and RBs (Johnson, Williams, Ellington) in the passing game this week?

5. Special Teams

Who wins the ST's battle in this game? It would appear heading into the game that the Cowboys have the advantage. K Dan Bailey is 5/5 FGs and 3/3 XPTs, while K Phil Dawson is 4/6 and 3/3. P Chris Jones averages 43.1/net 40.8, while P Andy Lee averages 46.2/net 38.3. KR/PR Ryan Switzer: 2 KOs/21.0 ave., 2 PRs/9.5 ave. Kerwynn Williams: 4 KOs/20.3 ave., 2 PRs/3.0 ave. Will the Cardinals' STs take a big step forward this week?