James Conner will be the MVP in the Arizona Cardinals Week 3 matchup

The success of the Arizona Cardinals offense runs through James Conner, whose hard running has injected life into this young football team.
Arizona Cardinals' James Conner (6) runs the ball past New York Giants linebacker Micah McFadden
Arizona Cardinals' James Conner (6) runs the ball past New York Giants linebacker Micah McFadden / Joe Rondone/The Republic / USA TODAY

The Arizona Cardinals are facing the NFL’s best team heading into Sunday, and no, that’s not a bold statement. The Dallas Cowboys are head and shoulders above everyone else, including the Cards current division rivals, the San Francisco 49ers. 

When I looked at the Cowboys and dissected everything about them, I found zero weaknesses. Barring some major meltdown, there is nothing for the Cardinals to exploit here, and that’s a testament to how well Jerry Jones and Company built this football team. 

This also means if the Cardinals want any hope of making this thing a game vs. the Cowboys, they must play to their strengths, and this is where James Conner comes in. Conner has enjoyed a pair of strong outings in as many games, rushing for 168 yards on 37 carries, good for 4.5 yards per attempt, so he’s more than capable of creating problems against the league’s most notorious defense.

James Conner must fuel the Arizona Cardinals offense vs. Dallas

Conner has also been so good, that PFF has given him an 82.1 player grade, which ranks second out of 51 qualifying backs. Overall, the Cardinals running game as a unit has an 81.0 grade, which ranks second only behind the Chicago Bears. 

Overall, the Cards must feed Conner the ball all game long, and hopefully, Keaontay Ingram and Emari Demercado can also pitch in. Ingram has the same battering ram approach as Conner, although his numbers have been bleak in the season’s early stages. Demercado could enjoy a strong outing, however, as he is a smaller, shiftier back and a complete contrast to Conner and Ingram. 

If the Arizona Cardinals can keep Conner moving north, picking up between four and five yards per play, then they could wear down Dallas’ defense AND keep the ball out of that offense’s hands. We have four days remaining before we find out whether the Cards are up for the challenge. 


(Statistics and grades provided by PFF [subscription])