Cowboys vs. Cardinals, 8-3-2017 – Expert Prediction


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Dallas Cowboys (13-3; 10-6 ATS; 6-10 O/U) vs. Arizona Cardinals (7-8-1; 6-10 ATS; 10-6 O/U)

NFL Preseason: Thursday, August 3, 2017 at 8:00pm EST

Line: Dallas -1

Total: 36.5

The calendar has turned to August and that means it’s time for the annual Hall of Fame Game. This year’s edition will see the Dallas Cowboys square off with the Arizona Cardinals Thursday night from the newly-renovated Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton, Ohio. The Cowboys went 1-3 in last year’s preseason, and the Cardinals also posted a 1-3 preseason record.

Cowboys Kick Off Preseason with Sights Set High

The Dallas Cowboys head into training camp with high hopes again this season after the rise of the Cowboys rookie duo Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliot last season. Dak Prescott took the NFL by storm by throwing for 3667 yards to go with a dazzling 23:4 TD to INT ratio in his first NFL season. Ezekiel Elliot made the seamless transition to the NFL last year by leading the entire NFL in rushing after accumulating 1631 rushing yards with 15 touchdowns. The 22-year old running back could face a brief suspension handed down by the NFL related to an offseason altercation. The Cowboys strong offensive line played a big role in Elliot’s success, however they did lose a few starters in Ronald Leary and Doug Free. As usual, several of the starters will only play a few sets, meaning many of the second and third string players will play a large portion of this game. Dallas did sign running back Ronnie Hillman for some added depth, and look for him to see some action in this contest. Watch for Cowboys backup QB Kellen Moore who will likely see a good amount of playing time in this contest.

Last season, the Cowboys scored an average of 26.3 points per game, ranking them fifth in the NFL. The Dallas defense was solid in 2016, allowing an average of 19.1 points per game, placing them fifth in the NFL.

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Cardinals Head into Season in Must Win Mode

The Arizona Cardinals are in ‘win-now’ mode led by veterans Carson Palmer and Larry Fitzgerald. Last year, Palmer was not as sharp as his outstanding 2015 season,  throwing 26 touchdowns with 14 picks after tossing 35 TD’s in 2015. Fitzgerald had another strong season, however he totaled just over 1000 receiving years after recording 1215 yards in 2015. A case can be made that David Johnson is the Cardinals most compelling player after the young running back exploded for 1239 receiving yards accompanied with 879 receiving yards last year. The Cardinals defense took some hits in the offseason, losing five defensive starters which includes defensive end Calais Campbell and Tony Jefferson. Arizona’s defense might not quite be as strong as last year, but overall they remain a strong unit. Head coach Bruce Arians already stated that Carson Palmer will not suit up in this one. Blaine Gabbert who started six games for the 49ers last season, and Drew Stanton, will split the playing time in this one.

The Cardinals were solid offensively last year, averaging 26.1 points per game, good for sixth in the NFL. Arizona’s owned the fourth ranked pass defense last year, however they allowed an average of 22.6 points per game, placing them 14th overall.

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The Dallas Cowboys are:

  • 1-6 ATS in their last 7 games overall.
  • 1-7 ATS in their last 8 Thursday games.
  • 1-6 ATS in their last 7 games against the NFC.

The Arizona Cardinals are:

  • 4-0 ATS in their last 4 games against the Cowboys.

I am going with the Cardinals in this matchup. Blaine Gabbert and Drew Stanton will be duking it out for the backup position behind Palmer, so I expect them both to play hard as they compete with each other. Also, Cowboys QB Kellen Moore has not played in a regular season game since 2015, and he missed all of last season, including preseason with an injury, so I am more comfortable siding with Gabbert and Stanton. The Cowboys own a 2-10 record over their last three years of preseason play, giving me more confidence in the Cardinals.

Pick: Arizona Cardinals +1*