Free NFL Pick: Dallas at Arizona 12-25-2010

December 22, 2010

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Dallas Cowboys at Arizona Cardinals

Satruday December 25th, 2010 7:30 PM EST

Line: Dallas -7

Overview:

The 4-10 Arizona Cardinals are one of the worst teams in the NFL. In an effort that appeared may be the beginning of improved play, the Cardinals dominated the Denver Broncos in Week 14. Unfortunately for Arizona, they followed it up with a loss to the Carolina Panthers, who had only one victory coming into the game last week. The franchise is in disarray and will try to duplicate the turnaround of their upcoming opponent, once the off-season hits.

The Dallas Cowboys are 3-2 in the Jason Garrett era, miles ahead of their 2-7 start to the season. It is quite possible that Garrett will be given the full time job at the end of the season, should his team keep up their recent play. While playoffs are out of the question, players and coaches alike will likely put forth their best performances, as they fight for their jobs going into next season.

Keys to the Game:

  • The Cardinals are among the worst three teams in the NFL in passing yards, rushing yards, and run defense. Their pass defense is not extraordinary –they rank in the bottom half of the league– but it is not the most glaring hole on their team. The Cardinals need to be solid at something when they face the Cowboys. The easiest way for them to move the ball is going to be getting Tim Hightower and Beanie Wells going, but given their production throughout the season, that is certainly not a guarantee.
  • Jon Kitna has to continue to utilize tight end Jason Witten. Witten hauled in 10 catches for 110 yards in his last outing against Washington. Witten has been a key part of the Cowboys’ offense throughout his career and is instrumental in their success in moving the chains. The Cowboys no longer have Dez Bryant to get the ball to, so it is imperative that the Cowboys find production from Witten, especially on third down.

Key Matchup:

  • John “Helter” Skelton makes his fourth start this Saturday. While he is going up against a struggling pass defense, it appears as though the Cardinals are still at a disadvantage. They will likely try to get the ball to Larry Fitzgerald to a fault, once again, and will likely see limited production from the entire offense, once again. Skelton might not be throwing very many interceptions, but zero touchdowns in three starts combined with a sub 60 QB Rating in his last two starts leaves something to be desired in Arizona.
  • DeMarcus Ware has 11.5 sacks this season after his third multiple sack game last week added two to the total. Skelton will likely have another tough day at the office with Ware creating problems in the backfield once again. Skelton can run and has very good athletic ability for a quarterback. Even so, there is no way he is going to be able to get away from Ware, who could have yet another big day this Saturday.

Wrap Up:

If I had to pick one team to play in the NFL right now, it may be the Arizona Cardinals. They are a sinking ship and the loss to the Panthers simply put an exclamation point on the turbulent season the Cardinals have undergone. The Cowboys should be able to achieve a blowout victory on the road at the expense of the struggling Arizona Cardinals. Ken Whisenhunt’s future may depend on the next two games, but it is obvious his team is not answering the call to protect the livelihood of their head coach.

Free NFL Pick: Cowboys -7


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