With the Dallas Cowboys coming into this game 2-0 and the Arizona Cardinals 0-2, this might seem like an open and shut situation, but football is full of surprises; you have to play the games. With an upset on the mind of the home team, let’s take a look at some players who may or may not have a big day, and some props to play.
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With the Cowboys heavily favored, this should be a game where they’re focusing on the ground game and defense, so let’s take a look at how that could impact some individual performances on both sides.
Dak Prescott u232.5 Passing Yards (-115 BetMGM)
As much as I love to fade Dak, that isn’t what this is. As is the case so often, this prop is much more about game script than what I think of the player inherently. The idea here is that the Cowboys should absolutely run away with this one, and won’t really ask much of Dak; their elite defense should pin down the Cardinals enough that the Dallas offense won’t need to score too many times to win and even cover.
We already have a point of reference this season- the Cowboys’ 40-0 road blowout against the Giants; Dak threw 24 times, and accumulated 143 air yards. If the number of attempts is anything similar to what happened in Arizona, he won’t come anywhere close to this number, as he has never averaged anywhere close to enough yards per attempt for that kind of pace. His career figure is 7.6, he averaged 7.3 last year, and through two games this year- both blowouts- it’s been 6.4. The Cowboys offense is defined by running the ball, in the past with Zeke Elliott and now with Tony Pollard but the concept is the same; this is not the Dak show, especially not in a blowout win.
Joshua Dobbs o0.5 Interceptions (-155 BetMGM)
Dobbs will be making his fifth career start against Dallas, and is still looking for his first win. Unfortunately, it’s probably not going to come on Sunday, or perhaps at any point this season depending on how the Cardinals handle the QB position, but he also has zero interceptions, a category he’s less eager to break into. Nonetheless, it’ll happen eventually, and the smart wager is that it’ll be sooner rather than later.
One point that bears mentioning is that the Giants and Commanders, the two teams Dobbs has faced, might simply be terrible when it comes to pass coverage. New York has yet to register a pick this year, while the Commanders have just one from a game in which they were largely ripped apart by Russell Wilson; both teams are well worse than average when it comes to EPA allowed per dropback.
The Cowboys, conversely, are surely not terrible in terms of air defense. They picked Zach Wilson three times in a nice win, and Daniel Jones twice in that opener against the Giants. They wont average 2.5per game all year, but this is not the game where it turns around towards the mean; expect Dobbs to turn the ball over against this elite unit.
Tony Pollard o70.5 Rushing Yards (-120 BetMGM)
If this number seems low for the clear-cut lead rusher in a solid offense, that’s because it absolutely is, as it’s been dragged down by a relatively slow start to the season for Pollard. He’s averaging 3.6 yards per attempt after impressive figures of 5.2 last year, and 5.5 the year before. While running backs are liable to fall off a cliff at any time in terms of production and efficiency, Pollard is still 26 years old, the overwhelming likelihood is that running back regression isn’t hitting him yet, and his play will bounce back.
Even amidst his “slump,” Pollard still hit totals of 70 and 72 yards on the ground in the first couple games. His share of touches has been solid, with 39 touches between the two games to start the year. The Cowboys should be ahead and looking to simply run the game away, so Pollard should have plenty of carries once again. If his efficiency takes a jump at all, which it should against a Cardinals team that’s pretty thin along the defensive line, he will have every opportunity to run for 71 yards, and could blow by that number by quite a bit.
Zach Ertz o3.5 Catches (-135 BetMGM)
I love betting catches rather than yards for top targets in games where a team should struggle offensively; whether or not big plays are available downfield, or yardage is being racked up after the catch, someone has to catch passes. In this one, where the Cardinals should be going to the air fairly often, expect Dobbs to be forced into checkdowns often as he’s rushed through his progressions by a Cowboys pass rush headlined by the transcendent Micah Parsons.
With the likes of DeMarcus Lawrence, as well as Chauncey Golston and Dorance Armstrong off to great starts, this pass rush is more than just Parsons, and should really get after Dobbs, who will be able to complete those quick throws against a Cowboys secondary that’s missing Trevon Diggs. When a QB is forced into quick decisions, that ball often goes to a security blanket type of player, and Ertz fits the bill to the letter.
The Stanford product has racked up 6 catches in each of the first two games, on 8 and 10 targets. That means a catch percentage of 66.7%, in line with what we’ve seen thus far in Ertz’s career, and a target share of almost 30% as Dobbs has thrown 61 balls, evenly distributed between the two games. If those trends keep up, 3.5 will be a very low bar for the former Pro Bowler to eclipse.