Arizona Cardinals @ Dallas Cowboys
Tuesday, 01:15 BST
Live on Sky Sports Main Event and Channel 5
Great receiver group will help Dalton settle in
In the opening week’s of the season every game the Dallas Cowboys played had followed a similar pattern; quarterback Dak Prescott and the offence would have a good game, relying on an impressive array of attacking talent but their defence wouldn’t be able to back them up. Going in to last week’s game Prescott led the league in passing yards and was having another productive game but midway through the third quarter the Dallas QB fell awkwardly while being tackled, suffering a compound fracture and dislocation of his right ankle, leaving Dallas to rely on Andy Dalton for the remainder of the season.
Dalton led the Cowboys to a 37-34 victory over the New York Giants last week and will make his first start for the team on Monday night. The 32-year-old was actually pretty productive against New York, completing 9 of 11 passes including a couple of key passes to set up the game winning field goal.
Coming in to tonight’s game Dalton will be relying on arguably the best wide receiver group in the NFL to try and keep the Cowboys atop the NFC East. Before the season started Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup were already seen as one of the best pairings around but the addition of rookie CeeDee Lamb has taken the Cowboys passing attack to a new level.
Before this weekend all three Cowboys pass catchers were in the top 20 for receiving yards and will be looking to build on that against a Cardinals secondary who have given up nearly 250 yards per game. With Arizona’s best pass rusher, Chandler Jones missing through injury I’m expecting Dalton to have a productive evening, so I will back an #OddsOnThat of Dalton to throw a touchdown in each half at 11/10.
Elliott will profit from Prescott injury
While Dalton should have success against the Cardinals I would expect head coach Mike McCarthy to amend his gameplan this week and look to lean on the other backfield star in Dallas, running back Ezekiel Elliott. Since entering the league in 2016 Elliott has been exceptional, averaging 94.5 rushing yards a game and is very rarely kept out of the endzone. Last week, with Dalton still finding his feet, Elliott cut through the Giants defence for his sixth touchdown of the season and will look for more of the same tonight.
The Cardinals defence has struggled against physical runners all season, Detroit’s Adrian Peterson and Carolina’s Mike Davis were both key factors in victories for their teams against Arizona and Elliott is certainly a tougher challenge than both of those players. Elliott’s usage this season has been limited by the fact that the Cowboys have often been playing from behind but tonight’s matchup should be a relatively balanced affair, allowing the former Ohio State man to add to his touchdown total this week.
I would expect McCarthy’s gameplan to involve a heavy dosage of Elliott early on, partly to help him find his rhythm but mainly to get Dalton settled so, at 13/10, Elliott to score a first half touchdown is a decent price.
Mobile Murray relies on Hopkins
After his controversial trade to Arizona from the Houston Texans in the offseason, DeAndre Hopkins makes his return to Texas looking to continue his excellent start to his Cardinals career. Hopkins has formed an instant bond with second year QB Kyler Murray and leads the league in receptions (45) and receiving yards (528), adding a pair of touchdowns for good measure. Facing a Dallas defence who have allowed 12 passing TDs this season Hopkins will be hoping to add to his total but it is his quarterback who could be the main threat to find the endzone.
Last season’s MVP was a mobile, second year quarterback who provided a number of rushing highlights, while Murray is unlikely to win the MVP award he is certainly doing his best Lamar Jackson impression when it comes to the running game. Arizona’s quarterback is 16th in the league in rushing yards and he has found the endzone five times already this season, proving particularly difficult to deal with in short yardage situations.
So far this season the Cardinals offence has mainly consisted of Murray either passing to Hopkins or running the ball himself. The main weakness of this Cowboys team this season is their defence, so I’m expecting more of the same from Arizona tonight. Back a Same Game Multi of DeAndre Hopkins to have Over 85.5 receiving yards and Kyler Murray to score a touchdown.