Cardinals vs Panthers: Breaking the Streak

cardinals vs panthers
Credit: AZ Central

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.

Cardinals vs Packers: Arizona’s First Primetime Game

Michael Chow-The Republic

The Arizona Cardinals will get their first opportunity to showcase their talent in primetime on national TV tonight in Cardinals vs Packers. The game is at State Farm Stadium with kickoff set for 5:20 AZ time.

Injuries

The Packers are missing star CB Jaire Alexander and now WRs Davante Adams and Allen Lazard this week with COVID, but the Cardinals will be lacking key pieces themselves, in Rodney Hudson and JJ Watt (supposedly for the rest of the year). Hudson’s backup Max Garcia is also questionable, possibly leaving AZ with Sean Harlow to start at Center tonight (can we get Lamont Gaillard back?). Both teams will have their hands full overcoming deficiencies on a short week.

Packers Outlook


For Green Bay, I expect LaFleur to lean on his Aarons. Aaron Rodgers will still be Aaron Rodgers and distribute the ball all over the field. In fact, under Matt LaFleur the Packers are 5-0 without Davante Adams in the lineup. Aaron Jones is also still Aaron Jones. He’s averaging 4.5 ypc this season and slowing him tonight will be key.

On the other side of the ball, Packers will have their hands full with arguably the best group of pass catchers in the league. Even without Jaire, their defense has been impressive ranking 7th in yards and points allowed. Creating pressure to force turnovers will likely be necessary for GB’s defense to slow Kyler Murray.

Cardinals Outlook

 
For Arizona, they’ll need young DL to step up and fill the void of JJ Watt. The development of Zach Allen, Rashard Lawrence, and Leki Fotu will be important for this team’s success tonight and going forward for the rest of this year. DL Jordan Phillips also needs to stay healthy and continue to make an impact especially in the run game. And although Watt will be missed on the field, his presence will still be felt in the locker room and on the sideline as Coach Watt.

“The Trees”, young LBs Zay and Zaven will need to be disciplined in their run lanes and constantly aware of Jones out of the backfield. Cardinals need to stop the run first and foremost, and then make sure Rodgers doesn’t have all day to throw. On the offensive side, kind of like the defensive side, AZ needs to continue what they’ve done all year. The Packers are 6th in passing yards allowed but 22nd in rushing. And many probably don’t know it, but even without Kyler running as much this year the Cardinals are still a Top 5 rushing team.

Overall


The run game will be crucial for both teams, and how well they run will affect how effective their play-action shots will be. Whoever runs the ball better, will likely throw the ball better, and whoever throws the ball better will likely win the game.

Establishing the run on offense, and stopping Aaron Jones on defense will be keys. Tonight will be an opportunity for Kliff and the Cardinals to show the rest of the league that they really are contenders this year. What are your keys to tonight’s game? Give us your thoughts on Twitter @Cardinals_ATB.

Arizona Cardinals: Undefeated Underdogs

Arizona Cardinals
Arizona Cardinals Credit: @derrickspencer

The Cardinals have a tough task ahead. As everyone knows, Arizona will be missing Chandler Jones, Rodney Hudson, Zach Allen, HC Kliff Kingsbury and QB Coach Cam Turner. But the Browns aren’t without their fair share of obstacles to overcome either. RB Nick Chubb was ruled out a couple days ago. Luckily for them they have a stud right behind him in Kareem Hunt. But now LT Jedrick Wills and RT Jack Conklin have also been ruled out. And according to the Browns official depth chart, rookie James Hudson is the backup LT and there’s no backup listed at RT. So Cleveland will likely have to play some guys out of position on the OL today. Expect interim HC Vance Joseph to dial up lots of pressure on the defensive side to take advantage.

Being without our Head Coach and playcaller seemingly gives AZ an immediate disadvantage. But on the flip side, someone else calling plays could make the offense a bit unpredictable today. With Kugler being the run game coordinator, we may see an uptick in runs, but who knows. Assistant WR coach Spencer Whipple will also be helping Kugler call plays.

The Browns are 1st in the NFL in rushing with 187 yards per game and the Cardinals are 8th with 128/game. Stopping the run will be key for both teams but in the end, whoever can protect their young QB the best, may be the team who wins. Give us your keys to today’s game @Cardinals_ATB on Twitter.

In-person Scouting Report ASU vs Colorado

Rachaad White

With starting RB Chip Trayanum out, when Arizona State had the ball I watched Senior RB Rachaad White. White has quick feet for his size, but is also strong enough to get the short yards. He’s a willing blocker, often sticking his nose directly into the blitz in critical situations. He has soft hands out of the backfield and can comfortably split out wide. The Sun Devils used him as a decoy on a 3rd and 2 from the 7.

Colorado’s whole defense flowed his way on the fake handoff and Daniels rolled the other direction for a walk in TD. Once in space Rachaad has the burst to hit the edge and get around the defense. When everyone else was getting worn down in the 4th, White showcased his athleticism to hurdle a DB in the open field for a big gain. The complete back finished with 16 touches for 107 total yards and 2 TDs.

Darien Butler

On the defensive side of the ball I decided to keep an eye on Senior LB Darien Butler. Butler is also well-rounded, with above average coverage and run instincts. His play recognition immediately stood out on the first play of the game. He tracked down the RB backside for a minimal gain.

He’s not the most agile defender, but has smart feet in coverage with not many wasted/false steps. On an out route in a crucial 3rd down Butler didn’t get faked out by the TE’s inside move. He showed the hit power to knock the ball out. Listed at 6’0 225 Darien doesn’t have great size and did seem to get eaten up by bigger OL inside at times. But was stout for the most part and had the range on outside zones to get wide. He finished the game with 7 tackles, 0.5 TFLs, and a pass deflection in the Sun Devils 35-13 win.

Overall

Overall both Sun Devil Senior prospects showed good versatility and skills valuable to the NFL. They may not test elite enough in any categories to make them Top 100 picks in the 2022 Draft, but their well-rounded abilities should get them drafted next spring.

Kyler’s “Luxury” Legs

This past offseason Kyler made it clear he wanted to use his legs as more of a luxury than a primary feature that the offense is reliant on. This also insinuates he wants to utilize his arm more this season.

Through two weeks so far, Kyler is averaging 96.3 more passing yards per game than last season. Even in comparison to just the first 2 games of 2020, Kyler passed for 86.5 more yards per game. His 400 passing yards yesterday was the 2nd most of his career.

Obviously 2 games isn’t a large sample size, but the rushing usage has also gone in the direction Kyler wants, cutting in half from 51.2 yards per game in 2020 to just 25.5 rushing yards per game so far. Last year he averaged 79 rushing yards on 10.5 rushing attempts the first 2 games. In the first 2 this year, Kyler’s received half as many rushing attempts per game at just 5.

Tennessee and Minnesota clearly don’t have the best pass defenses so I wouldn’t expect Kyler to average nearly 100 more passing yards per game through the whole season (but he might get close with a full healthy season). Most importantly, Arizona should be able to continue this ratio of utilizing Kyler’s arm more and his legs as more of a secret weapon this year.