At this time last year, the Arizona Cardinals' offense was in disarray. One year later, with veteran quarterback Carson Palmer at the helm, the Cardinals opened up their preseason with a 17-0 win on the road against the Green Bay Packers. They get their first preseason game at home against a Cowboys team that had a rougher go last week.
The Cowboys have most of their major pieces set in stone, but there are still a few roster battles to play out over the preseason -- specifically at linebacker. Tony Romo and the offensive line were solid in a 19-17 loss against the Raiders, but penalties and special teams were an issue last week.
Meet the Arizona Cardinals
It may only be a preseason game, but shutting out Green Bay at Lambeau has to make the team feel good. The Cardinals had a strong defensive performance that completely shut down the Green Bay offense. The Cardinals held Green Bay to just 223 total yards, racking up three sacks, a forced fumble and an interception along the way. Safety Tyrann Mathieu earned Revenge of the Bird's player of the game and will get the start on Saturday while Rashad Johnson sits out with a knee injury.
On the offensive side of things, the quarterback woes that dogged the Cardinals much of last season didn't show up this time around. Palmer was efficient in the limited time he was on the field, throwing for one touchdown and 77 yards. Rookie running back Stepfan Taylor held his own, getting 20 carries for 64 yards.
Meet the Dallas Cowboys
After starting with a great 24-20 win in the Hall of Fame game against the Dolphins, the Cowboys' first official preseason game was a decidedly mixed bag of results. There was a lot to be happy about, and just as much to be disappointed in after falling, 19-17, to the Oakland Raiders.
Romo, back in action after surgery on a back cyst, was 6 for 8 for 88 yards and praised his offensive line for the time he had in the pocket. Wide receiver Dez Bryant and Romo clicked against the Raiders, connecting on passes of 14, 26 and 15 yards for Bryant's game total of 55 yards. Wide receiver Cole Beasley also had a solid game as he pushes for a regular spot in the corps. He finished with three receptions for 49 yards and a touchdown.
It wasn't all roses for the Cowboys. The offense had a couple of penalties that stifled drives in the game and the special teams were atrocious. Kicker Dan Bailey had a 26-yard field goal blocked and dropped a punt at the nine-yard line. Also, the Raiders' Greg Jenkins returned a kick 51 yards for a touchdown.
Local Takes: Cardinals
Do I think he would be a capable starter? Yes I do. That is comforting because we all know that it just takes one play to send him into the game and into a starting role. At the same time, he is genuinely going to help the team and Palmer to be better.
Local Takes: Cowboys
The folks at Blogging the Boys say that, despite a rash of injuries, the defensive line is still shaping up to be one of the bright spots of the preseason.
Despite injury after injury piling up (the Cowboys have placed five players from their defensive line on injured reserve so far this offseason), the Cowboys' defensive line has remained an effective unit and still looks to be a strength of the team going into the halfway-point of the preseason.
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Did you just see Carson Palmer running to block for Fitz? That just happened.— Revenge of the Birds (@revengeofbirds) August 2, 2013
Sean Lee: Inconsolable Human Being— Blogging The Boys (@BloggingTheBoys) August 14, 2013
@AZBobbyMac - Arizona Republic writer
@ClarenceHillJr - Cowboys beat writer
Cowboys can't even get going to beach right. It's 68 degrees and chilly in Oxnard. Water is cold. And deep too. Ha— Clarence Hill (@clarencehilljr) August 14, 2013
The oddsmakers are predicting a tight contest for this one, with the Cardinals favored by just a point to a field goal, according to Oddsshark.com.