Can Andy Dalton Hand Kyler Murray His First Loss At AT&T Stadium?
16 October 2020
Monday night’s game between the Arizona Cardinals and Dallas Cowboys was supposed to feature two of the NFL’s rising stars—Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray and Cowboys signal-caller Dak Prescott. But Prescott going down with a nasty ankle injury last week has changed the focus just a little.
While it will still be a game about two quarterbacks, the focus will not be on rising stars. This is Dalton’s tenth year in the NFL, after all. But there is still a connection between him and Murray other than being at drastically different stages in their respective careers.
Both were superstar high school quarterbacks in Texas.
Dalton had one full season as the starter for Katy High School and got the Tigers to the state finals only to lose to Southlake Carroll. Murray was a three-year starter for Allen High School, where he went undefeated as a quarterback.
That includes three state championship games; all played in AT&T Stadium. He played two additional times in the stadium during his college career, once with Texas A&M and again with Oklahoma—both wins.
So, when the game kicks off Monday night, there will be a little more on the line for Murray than a much-needed win. Can he remain perfect at AT&T Stadium? Or will Andy Dalton breathe new life into the Dallas Cowboys and show he still has some game left in him?
Kyler Murray and the Arizona Cardinals
When the Cardinals rookie head coach, Kliff Kingsbury, drafted Kyler Murray with the No. 1 pick in the 2019 Draft, no one was surprised. Yes, the Cardinals had just drafted Josh Rosen, but Murray was perfect for Kingsbury’s system. It was a match that was too good to pass up.
They had some growing pains last year, as could be expected. But this year, we have started to see more of the potential between the two come to fruition. Five games in, the Cardinals offense ranks in the top ten for total yards/game; last year, they ranked 21st.
A large part of the reason is Murray’s improved game and the addition of wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins. Murray’s completion percentage is up 5.2 percent, and he is contributing more to the ground game, too. So far, he is on pace to record 900+ yards in the run game and another 4000+ passing.
But he does still struggle with making decisions sometimes. He is on pace to throw 19 interceptions this season (has six through five games). While Murray and the team looked great against the 49ers and Washington to start the season, they did not look so good against Detroit and Carolina.
There is nothing like a game against the Jets to get you back on track, though. Murray torched them for 380 yards and a touchdown last week. With how the Dallas defense has been playing, it would not be shocking to see him have another such game this week.
Andy Dalton and the Dallas Cowboys
As far as back-up quarterbacks go, the Cowboys could do a lot worse than Andy Dalton. In him, they get a guy with a ton of experience that is no stranger to the playoffs. He never knew what to do when he got there, but he guided the Bengals in for five straight seasons.
While he had some excellent players to work with in Cincinnati, they pale in comparison to Ezekiel Elliot, Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, and CeeDee Lamb. The offensive line is somewhat of a question mark, with many guys having injury issues this season.
But despite the offensive line issues, Elliot has averaged over four yards a carry, and Prescott was averaging two sacks a game. It would be better if he were getting sacked less, of course, but plenty of other quarterbacks have it worse.
So, the tools are there for Dalton to use. The only question is whether he has the game to use them. He did get it done in the clutch against a good Giants defense last week. Perhaps, with a week to prepare as the starter, maybe he can do just as well against the Cardinals defense.
However, with the pace in which the Cowboys defense gives up points, can he keep up with Kyler Murray and the Cardinals offense?
Odds and Prediction
Spread: Cardinals -1.5
Moneyline: Cardinals -120; Cowboys +106
Dalton will probably be okay behind center for the Cowboys this week. It would not be shocking to see Dallas try to control the game with a heavy dose of Ezekiel Elliot throughout. Since their defense can’t stop anyone, maybe they can slow Kyler Murray and the Cardinals down by keeping Arizona’s offense off the field.
But with how the Dallas defense has looked, it is hard to imagine them slowing down Kyler Murray enough to make a difference. The only hope the Cowboys have is to control the game with Ezekiel Elliot, but not with the makeshift offensive line they have.
Dallas needs the win but look for Murray to remain undefeated in AT&T Stadium with a seven-point victory.
Betting Pick: Cardinals -1.5
As for the over/under, one of two scenarios will happen. Both offenses will put some points on the board, so take the over. Either that or Murray will run up the score on the Cowboys dismal defense while Dallas does little. Take the under.
Betting Pick: Under 55
Travis a native-Texan which is where his love of football originated. But after moving around a lot when he was younger, he was able to develop an appreciation for the game and not just his favorite teams. He now lives in Indiana with his wife, Nicole, and two kids, Jackson and Addison. You can find him on Twitter at @FatManWriting.