This week it is Cardinals vs Panthers. The Cardinals have lost their last 5 games against the Panthers. Sunday they look to break that streak and seek revenge from last year. Last year they lost in Carolina to a McCaffrey-less Panthers team.
Kyler Murray, Hopkins and Rondale Moore are all questionable vs Carolina. Kyler returned to practice Friday but recent reports are that it’s unlikely he plays. Expect the team to play it safe, making sure their stars are healthy for the final stretch of the season.
Justin Pugh was ruled out, which means Sean Harlow will likely start at LG. Harlow quietly played well last week vs SF after Pugh went down in the first drive.
Key Matchups when AZ’s on Offense
OTs DJ Humphries and Kelvin Beachum will have their hands full against Panthers pass rush specialists Brian Burns and former Cardinal Haason Reddick. Carolina’s Edges are a big reason why they’re ranked 2nd in passing yards allowed.
Getting James and Eno going in the run game will be important. Especially for Colt McCoy if Kyler can’t suit up.
Coming off Covid, A.J. Green is also likely chomping at the bit to get back. Being on the other end of that devastating ending vs GB and like Kyler, having not played since. Though it won’t be an easy task, he’ll see a lot of A.J. Bouye and Donte Jackson (especially if Hopkins can’t go) and a maybe a little Stephon Gilmore if he plays (listed as questionable).
Key Matchups when AZ’s on Defense
Carolina’s star running back Christian McCaffrey returned to action last week and is looking to improve upon his 100+ yard performance (52 rushing, 54 receiving) against New England. Christian seems to always play well against the Cardinals. Slowing him has to be Vance Joseph’s main focus, especially with backup QB PJ Walker getting the start, AZ should expect a heavy dose of CMac.
Carolina did sign Cam Newton back this week but he’s not expected to play more than a few plays, if at all.
Byron, Marco, and Robert will have their hands full with DJ Moore, Robby Anderson, and Terrace Marshall in the secondary but if they get their heads and hands around they’ll have opportunities for picks today.
Let’s be honest, all the OTs in this game will have their hands full. Taylor Moton has been great at RT for Carolina, not allowing a sack this year, but he’ll see a lot of Markus Golden who’s 9 sacks ranks 3rd in the NFL. At LT we’ll likely see 3rd-year G/T Dennis Daley for CAR which has to be a mouthwatering matchup for Chandler Jones.
In the End
Stopping the run and pressuring the opposing QB will be the keys to the game for both teams. Whoever can pound the rock and protect their backup signal caller best will come out on top in Cardinals vs Panthers.