A glance at five top storylines for the Cardinals-Cowboys game Sunday at AT&T Stadium in Dallas.:
Romo or Weeden?
The status of Dallas quarterback Tony Romo and his balky back probably won't be clarified until game day. Romo wants to play and the Cowboys need him to play. Romo says he can play with pain, and really, that shouldn't be questioned. But if the back won't let him do the things he needs to so he can properly run the offense, putting him out there would be a mistake. Weeden played well in his replacement stint Monday night, but he's the backup for a reason. The Cardinals are going to say the right things about battling Weeden but the reality is the Cards get an advantage if Romo is unable to go.
DeMarco rolling downhill
Cardinals linebacker Kevin Minter talked about how "different" facing this downhill, run-first Cowboys offense is compared to most games. That's where this league has gone. Once, an offense where a running back like DeMarco Murray plowed ahead for 28 or 30 carries in a game was normal. Now it most certainly is not. Murray has rushed for at least 100 yards in all eight Dallas games, an NFL record to start a season. He's on track to set the NFL record for rushing yards in a season. The Cards, meanwhile, fell from first to third in rush defense after giving up more than 100 to the Eagles. Murray provides the ultimate challenge. If Romo can't go, it's a challenge that will likely determine the outcome of the game.
Peterson takes on Dez and the 300 yards a game
Among their seven games, the Cardinals have been ripped up yardage-wise by a pair of prolific passing offenses in the Broncos and Eagles. As a team, the Cards are now allowing an average of more than 300 yards a game, which ranks them last in the NFL. But their defense – and their secondary – have made plays when they needed, whether it was the two Antonio Cromartie interceptions against Philly or the three consecutive pass breakups to end the game. Now comes the beastly Dez Bryant, and the hope for the Cardinals that Patrick Peterson is a) OK from his concussion and b) going to play at a high level. In their first matchup in 2011, Bryant had eight catches for 86 yards and a touchdown. But Peterson had three pass breakups, and his team won. It'll again be a matchup to watch.
Images of past games between the Cowboys and Cardinals
B.A. and his bombs
The Cardinals took their shots deep against Philadelphia. A lot. It wasn't just the bomb to Smokey Brown to end the game. It was shots deep to Michael Floyd early and often, or down the field to Larry Fitzgerald. That doesn't figure to change against a Cowboys secondary that can be exploited. The Dallas defense is better than last year, but it isn't stellar. The Cardinals have to make some inroads on offense – especially in consistency and getting first downs – to help keep Murray at bay. But as Arians said, if there is a potential touchdown involved, you go for it. And the Cards will.
It's all about the blitz
Regardless of who is playing quarterback, the Cowboys showed how they had issues handling the blitz when playing against Washington Monday night. Of course, for the Cardinals, blitzing on defense is as much a way of life these days as eating and sleeping. The Cards are going to attack and be aggressive. How will the Cowboys handle it? And how will defensive coordinator Todd Bowles draw it up so that the Cowboys can't simply plug the holes they had Monday night and survive?