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Game 4: ARI @ CAR Nitty Grittys

NFL: SEP 20 Washington Football Team at Cardinals Photo by Kevin Abele/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Arizona Cardinals (2-1, 1-0 road, 1-1 home) at Carolina Panthers (1-2, 0-1 home, 1-1 road), features a former Big-12 coaching matchup of Kliff Kingsbury (Texas Tech) versus Matt Rhule (Baylor).

Scouting Report:

Offensive Personnel Comparison (Post Week 3 Season PFF grades):

QB Murray—-72.7——Bridgewater—-66.6

RB1 Drake—-67.9——Davis—-74.5

RB2 Edmonds—-48.7—-Cannon—-60.0

TE1 Arnold—-52.6—-Manhertz—-46.4

TE2 Daniels—-68.7—-I. Thomas—-53.1

WR1 Hopkins—-89.4—-Anderson—-72.6

WR3 Fitzgerald—-58.6—-Moore—-70.5

WR3 Kirk—-54.7—-Samuel—-61.5

WR4 Isabella—-82.5—-Roberts—-56.2

LT Humphries—-62.4—-Okung—-76.5

LG Pugh—-58.8—-Schofield—-58.0

C Gaillard—-45.7—-Paradis—-60.4 (Cole*—-62.4)

RG Sweezy—-47.1—-Miller—-50.9

RT Beachum—-68.7—-Molton—-72.7

Cardinals: 6, Panthers 8

Defensive Personnel Comparison (Week 1 PFF grades):

DE Jones—-53.8—-Burns—-73.5

DE Kennard—-73.9—-Gross-Matos—-63.1

DT Peters—-70.1—-Short—-53.8

DT Blackson—-65.9—-Brown—-48.2

DT Phillips—-46.3—-Kerr—-63.1

LB Hicks—-55.4—-Whitehead—-27.9

LB Campbell—-59.5—-Thompson—-62.1

LB Reddick—-64.9—-Chinn—-42.4

CB Peterson—-50.3—-Jackson—-64.9

CB Kirkpatrick—-41.6—-Douglas—-69.1

CB Murphy—-53.4—-Pride—-35.8

S D. Thompson—-49.6—-Boston—-50.9 (S Baker—-66.8)

S Riley—-48.6—-Burris—-43.1 (S Banjo—-71.5)

Cardinals 7, Panthers 6

Cardinals 13, Panthers 14

Special Teams Personnel Comparison (Week 1 PFF grades):

1—-Turner—-83.0—-Ragland—-77.9

2—-Daniels—-78.4—-C.Jones—-69.7

3—-Gardeck—-70.2—-Reeves-Maybin—-69.1

4—-Reddick—-70.0—-Lee—-65.6

5—-D. Thompson—-67.9—-Walker—-64.1

Cardinals 18, Panthers 14

K—-Gonzalez—-(5/7 FG, 8/9 XP)—-Slye—-(9/9 FGs, 3/5 XP)

P—-Lee—-(48.0 ave., 41.5 net, 3 ins. 20)—-Charlton—-(51.3 ave., 42.0 net, 2 ins. 20)

LS—-Brewer—-—39.8—-Jansen—-72.9

Cardinals 18, Panthers 17

PFF Team Comparisons (after 2 games):

Overall: ARI: 64.4—-CAR: 59.2

Offense: ARI: 68.7—-CAR: 68.8

Passing: ARI: 67.6—-CAR: 67.2

Pass Blocking: ARI: 67.6—-CAR: 61.7

Receiving: ARI: 71.3—-CAR: 69.6

Rushing: ARI: 74.5—-CAR: 72.9

Run Blocking: ARI: 50.3—-CAR: 53.6

Defense: ARI: 53.3—-CAR: 44.9

Run Defense: ARI: 51.9—-CAR: 29.1

Tackling: ARI: 59.3—-CAR: 37.8

Pass Rush: ARI: 60.2—-CAR: 65.0

Pass Coverage: ARI: 50.4—-CAR: 51.8

Special Teams: ARI: 76.0—-CAR: 74.2

Comparison: ARI has higher scores in 9 of the 13 categories.

Cardinals 27, Panthers 21 (Player and Team grade comparisons).

Thursday’s Injury Report:

OUT: (most likely) S Budda Baker; S Chris Banjo; C Mason Cole

Cause for concern: WR DeAndre Hopkins (ankle), LB Devon Kennard (calf), ST Dennis Gardeck (foot), WR Christian Kirk (groin) and CB Dre Kirkpatrick (head).

Panthers 21 Chargers 16:

Key Stats in Panthers’ 21-16 win:

QB Teddy Bridgewater: 22/28/78.6%/235yds/1td/0int

RB Mike Davis: 13/46/3.5 rushing, 8/45/5.6/1td receiving

WR D.J. Moore: 2/65/32.5

WR Robbie Anderson: 5/55/11.0

WR Curtis Samuel 4/45/11.3

DE Brian Burns: 3 tackles/1 sack

DT Derrick Brown: 5 tackles/4 solo/2 tackles for loss

LB Shaq Thompson: 12 tackles (8 solo)

LB Jeremy Chinn: 12 tackles (6 solo)

CB Donte Jackson: 1 interception for 66 yards

K Joey Slye: 5/5 FGs, 1/1 XPs

Chargers Turnovers: 1 interception, 3 fumbles

Chargers Rushing: 117 yards, 5.1 ypc, 1 TD

Chargers Passing: 330 yards, 9.4 ypa, 1 TD

Nitty Grittys:

On Offense:

  • Chip, contain DE Brian Burns who had a big game in the Panthers’ 38-20 win over the Cardinals last year.
  • Double team and handle DTs Derrick Brown (coming off best game) and Kawann Short (returning from injury)
  • Contend with the Panthers’ speed at LB in Shaq Thompson, Tarik Whitehead and Jeremy Chinn—-but they are slight of build and can have troubles in run defense vs. physical fronts.
  • Coverage Grades: LB Thompson—-61.2; LB Whitehead—-29.3; LB Chinn—-47.7; CB Jackson—-64.5; CB Douglas—-69.1; CB Pride—-45.6; SS Burris—-55.8; FS Boston—-51.7
  • Coverage weakness: versus slot WR and TEs. This could be a breakout game for Dan Arnold and a big day for Larry Fitzgerald and Andy Isabella.
  • Weakest Tacklers: MLB Whitehead—-29.3; WLB Chinn—-47.5; CB Jackson—-25.5; CB Douglas—-56.3; SS Burris—-29.8
  • Panthers only have 2 sacks in 3 games and both came versus Chargers (Burns and Haynes), but they have 34 QB pressures—-Cardinals have 40 QB pressures and 11 sacks.
  • Because of the Panthers’ concern about Kyler Murray’s running ability, they are likely to play a diet of 4-5 under, 2 deep zones. And when they go man to man, they will keep a spy on Murray, most likely Shaq Thompson or Jeremy Chinn. However, it was Alabama head coach Nick Saban who exclaimed after playing Kyler Murray in the 2018 Orange Bowl, “you can’t assign just one spy on Murray, he runs right by him.”

On Defense:

  • Teddy Bridgewater can be very accurate and efficient, especially when given adequate time to throw. He has enough mobility to escape pressure occasionally. Lots of short to intermediate passes—-crossing routes, out passes, quick slants, digs—-lots of passes to RBs (still a trend even after losing McCaffrey).
  • The Panthers’ OL is strongest at the tackles (Okung and Molton), but a little weak at times up the middle. Okung is nursing a groin pull, which could be a factor in their trying to handle Chandler Jones.
  • RB Mike Davis is compact, tough and scrappy. Cardinals need to square and wrap up on him and get to hit at the hole, not 5-7 yards downfield.
  • WR Matchups—-could be the biggest cause for concern—-can Patrick Peterson stay stride for stride with the speedy Robbie Anderson? Can Dre Kirkpatrick handle D.J. Moore, who is their strongest and best RAC WR? Can Byron Murphy handle slot WR Curtis Samuel who has speed and RAC ability?
  • TE Matchup—-De’Vondre Campbell on Ian Thomas. The Panthers’ TEs only have 5 receptions on 6 targets this season.
  • A suggested strategy—-bracket deep threat Robbie Anderson with Kirkpatrick (hopefully his recently reported head injury is not serious) and FS Deionte Thompson and have Patrick Peterson dog D.J. Moore. Stress to Byron Murphy the importance of maintaining inside leverage on Curtis Samuel.
  • Teddy Bridgewater is especially accurate beating zone coverages. This could get him into a rhythm, which was the case last year in allowing young QB Kyle Allen to extend drives. If the Cardinals revert to playing zones—-it could be a big passing day for Bridgewater.
  • What’s amazing is that through 3 games the Panthers’ WRs only have 2 TDs and Teddy Bridgewater’s TD/int ratio is 2:2. Like the Cardinals last year, thus far the Panthers are kicking a lot of FGs. They beat the Chargers in LA with 5 FGs and 1 TD, thanks in large measure to the 4 turnovers they created on defense.

On Special Teams:

  • The Panthers’ kicking game is a real strength. Rookie K Joey Slye is 9/9 in FGs and 3/5 on XPs. Punter Jospeh Charlton has a 51.3 average, but, his net is 42.0, which means that And Isabella could have a couple of big returns.
  • In the return game, old friend Pharoh Cooper is off to a good start, posting a 28.8 kickoff yards average and a 7.2 punt return average. We know he is very capable of popping a big return, which is why it would be a good idea for Zane Gonzalez to kick deep into the end zone for touchbacks and for Andy Lee to sacrifice a little distance for better hang time, which he was unable to do on the 51 yard punt in the 4th quarter last week versus the Lions where Jamal Agnew popped a 19 yard return right up the middle of the field.
  • The Cardinals came up big on STs in their two wins. It would be great to see them rise to the occasion versus the Panthers.

Key Stat: The Panthers created 4 turnovers in their win versus the Chargers in Week 3, while the Cardinals committed 3 turnovers in their loss to the Lions. Therefore, the Cardinals’ top priority is to try to reverse the script this week.