You never want to get too cocky, but it sure feels like the question this week isn't "will the Cowboys beat the Cardinals?" but rather "how badly will the Cowboys blow out the Cardinals?"
When you're a Super Bowl hopeful you need to do more than just beat bad teams — you need to destroy them. That's something the Cowboys have had no trouble with through the first two weeks, but something they do need to keep up in Week 3.
Cowboys backers will be especially keen in a blowout, as the spread in this game is a massive 12.5 points.
Here's what the Cowboys need to do to blow out the Cardinals.
1. Take Shots Downfield
It can be tempting to take a more conservative approach on offense when you're in a serious mismatch, but being timid is what gets a lot of teams in hot water against lesser opponents. You need to just play your game on offense. Once you get up big then you can take the foot off the gas, but it shouldn't be any sooner.
Dak is averaging over 11.0 yards per pass attempt on both intermediate and deep passes this season, compared to 5.1 on throws behind the lind of scrimmage and 4.7 on short passes. That highlights how efficient he's been at completing those tougher throws — obviously they generate more yards when they hit, but the reduced rate of completions downfield often pull QB's averages down on deep balls anyway.
CeeDee Lamb is already having a monster season, and the Cowboys need to exploit the mismatch he has against a Cardinals defense that Pro Football Focus has ranked No. 22nd in coverage on the year.
2. Capitalize on Dobbs' Mistakes
Josh Dobbs has performed admirably considering the situation he's in, but he's been much shakier than his numbers might indicate.
You may look at those 0 interceptions and think he's protecting the ball well, but PFF has graded him with 4 "turnover-worthy" throws, which is the 3rd most of any quarterback this season. He hasn't played against any defense nearly as good as the Cowboys', so he's been able to get away with some poor plays.
Dallas leads the NFL with 7 takeaways in 2023, and even with Trevon Diggs out the secondary should have no trouble capitalizing and putting Dobbs on the board with his first interception(s) of the season.
3. Do Not Blitz
The Cowboys' defensive line being so elite has allowed them to do something pretty unique — get major pressure on opposing quarterbacks without sending any extra rushers. Micah Parsons, Demarcus Lawrence, Osa Odighizuwa and Dorance Armstrong do five or six rushers' worth of work as a group of just four.
It's no coincidence that the Cowboys' first two opponents are both top-three in pressure rate allowed against non-blitzing defenses.
The Cardinals aren't terrible in this metric (yet), but they have a below-average pass-blocking line, and this will also be the first time in 2023 that they'll be forced to play in catch-up mode.
Dobbs will have to be sitting in the pocket longer waiting for routes to develop downfield, and that's going to give Parsons and co. all the time they need to make this a nightmare night.
With Diggs out of the lineup it will be beneficial to keep a full seven players back in coverage, and the elite defensive front makes that possible.
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