Cardinals Game Plan & Matchups To Watch

Defensive coordinator Ray Horton has done a nice job of using his personnel and the Cardinals defense will have a chance to prove it legitimately has improved. Plus a look at the offensive matchups.

GAME PLAN: The Cardinals defense will have a chance to prove it legitimately has improved. Dallas has a lot of weapons, but the Cardinals seem to be grasping Ray Horton's scheme. The key will be tackling well in the open field, and limiting the big plays that QB Tony Romo makes after plays break down. Offensively, the Cardinals must get the ball to Larry Fitzgerald more frequently. He caught three passes last week despite being targeted nine times. QB John Skelton was erratic, often throwing way over Fitzgerald's head.

MATCHUPS TO WATCH: Cardinals OTs Levi Brown and Jeremy Bridges vs. Cowboys OLB DeMarcus Ware -- Ware might be the best defensive player and the best pass rusher in the NFL. The Cardinals offensive tackles have pass blocked poorly all year. It's critical the Cardinals tackles keep Ware from making a huge impact and forcing turnovers.

Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald vs. Cowboys secondary -- Fitzgerald had just one catch for 26 yards last year against the Cowboys, but he also was playing with a rookie quarterback, John Skelton. The Cardinals need to let Fitzgerald see if he can make plays against CBs Terence Newman or Mike Jenkins.

Cardinals LBs vs. Cowboys TE Jason Witten -- Witten has hurt the Cardinals before, catching 8 passes for 45 yards and a touchdown last season. The Cardinal have done a better job against tight ends over the last month, but they haven't played one with Witten's talents.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

Defensive coordinator Ray Horton has done a nice job of using his personnel. Several players have developed under his watch, including nose tackle David Carter and linebacker Daryl Washington. When safety Kerry Rhodes went down with a foot injury, Horton started using cornerback Richard Marshall at safety in nickel situations.

Offensively, this team is still trying to find itself. The young players are already playing. There is still no clear identity, something the team needs to address over the final month of the season. The answer is complicated: the Cardinals need better play from their quarterbacks. There are other issues, but that's the biggest.

BY THE NUMBERS: 8 -- That's the number of touchdowns of at least 45 yards the Cardinals have scored this season. Only the Packers (9) have more from that distance. Four of the Cardinals' long plays, however, are punt returns by Patrick Peterson.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "Growing up I was a Cowboys fan. As I got a little older, I wised up." -- OLB Sam Acho on this week's opponent.


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