MNF: Cardinals vs. Cowboys odds, pick & score prediction
Life after Dak begins in Dallas Monday night against the high-flying Cardinals from Arizona. Fair or not, the outcome will dictate how Cowboy fans will feel about the rest of the 2020 season with Andy Dalton under center.
Tue, October 20 2020, 12:15 AM
Playing for Prescott
Dak Prescott’s traumatic injury was felt throughout the Cowboys’ locker room. You can’t unsee the quarterback’s ankle sticking out the side of his shoe before he was carted off the field in tears. Despite the circumstances, Dallas was able to pull it together and take down an NFC East rival.
It takes some time to mentally recover from the devastating news, but like a bad loss, the loss at quarterback can only linger for 24 hours. Now the emotional loss can turn into a positive by galvanizing the team together. The Cowboys now have something bigger to play for, their injured teammate.
Dalton Backs Dak
What initially seemed like an odd offseason addition, the Cowboys are lucky to have Andy Dalton ready to roll. Of course, Dalton’s red hair and the 11 Cincinnati losses in 2019 inspire punchlines. Even so, you’d be hard-pressed to find a backup quarterback who’s thrown for more than 31,000 yards, 200 touchdowns and taken five teams to the playoffs. It’s even more impressive that he was able to do it while playing for a franchise as inept as the Bengals.
Dalton’s completed 62% of his career pass attempts and averages over 6.8 yards per attempt. Playing with a ton of weapons at wide receiver and with a reliable running back, Ezekiel Elliot, to lean on in difficult times, Dalton is poised to keep the Cowboys’ offense humming.
After stepping in for Prescott, Dalton completed 8-of-11 passes for 111 yards, finishing two drives with field goals, including the game-winner as time expired.
“There's a time and place where you got to pound the ball, got 21 [Elliott] in the backfield, still need to build, and I think it was a really good drive, run, run, get into some play-action, get those things working together because obviously there's going to be times we're going to need that,” passing game coordinator Kellen Moore said this week. “We're still going to throw it. We're not going to get away from it, but when you got a guy in the backfield like that, a drive like that, I think, was huge.”
Can the Cowboys still reach the playoffs without Dak Prescott?
Dallas searching for Defense
Dak’s unexpected departure will be the talk of the town. The loss is significant, but their biggest problem remains on defense. The Cowboys rank 27th in total defense and dead last in scoring defense, allowing on average 36 points per game. This week they’ll be tasked to slow down an Arizona team that’s scoring more than 25 points and averaging just shy of 400 yards per game.
A popular preseason pick to be a surprise playoff team, the 3-2 Cardinals have scored at least three touchdowns in each game this season. They got off to a nice start by defeating the 49ers, but have a pair of disappointing losses in back to back weeks to the Lions and Panthers.
2019 Offensive Rookie of the Year Kyler Murray has completed 70% of his passes. The problem is that too many of those incompletion are interceptions (6). DeAndre Hopkins has been a terrific addition thus far, catching nine passes for more than 105 yards per game.
Expect a high-scoring affair
The Cardinals’ offense is going to score points against the Dallas defense. Who can’t? A high-scoring affair, it will be a long, late Monday Night Football game that will ultimately decided by who takes better care of the ball. Playing with extra purpose, I expect the Cowboys to have Dak’s back and secure the win.
Score prediction: Dallas 31, Arizona 27