This bye week couldn’t have come at a better time. We’re fresh off a big division win, several key guys are banged up, and it’s Thanksgiving weekend, so the (most of the) rest of us working stiffs have some time off as well. I know I’m glad for a few days off of my job teaching at ASU.
With that in mind, here’s a quick to-do list for the Redbirds’ week off. What does this team need over the bye? Let’s discuss.
Get Guys Healthy
This is what the bye week is designed for, and it’s the thing the Cardinals need the most. That clearly starts with Kyler Murray, who’s been out since spraining his ankle against the Packers in Week 8. We’ve gone 2-1 since, with solid divisional wins against the Niners and Seahawks sandwiched around an ugly home loss to the Panthers. Colt McCoy has mostly held down the fort, but we need Kyler back sooner rather than later.
The same goes for DeAndre Hopkins and Justin Pugh. Their backups have been serviceable, but the more starters we can get back after a week off, the better. And more rest for nicked-up guys like Budda Baker, Corey Peters, Max Garcia, and others is obviously a good thing. Let’s hope everyone gets the rest they need and come out healthy and recharged in Week 13.
Side note: With the schedule expanding to 17 games—and maybe 18 down the line?—when will the players get an extra bye? A 20-week season with 18 games and 2 byes would make a lot of sense. (Although I still prefer the 16-game season.)
Get Matt Prater Some Practice Kicks
This is mostly in jest—Prater has been very solid in his first season in the desert—but he was the only “loser” from the Seahawks win and we’re gonna need this guy to make some big kicks down the stretch. He missed three kicks on Sunday, including one total shank job—although he did nail that 53-yarder. A few extra practice kicks over the bye wouldn’t hurt anything is all I’m saying.
Create Some Distance in the NFC Playoff Chase
The 9-2 Cardinals have the best record in the league and, obviously, are the top seed in the NFC as things stand now. But if things break the right way, they could pad their lead in the conference. It all centers on the pivotal Packers-Rams game on Sunday. Perhaps counter-intuitively, Cardinals fans should actually be rooting for the Rams since the Packers own the tiebreaker over the Cardinals. That would put us a game and a half up on the Packers and a game up on the Rams—and we’d still be in good shape against the Rams if they beat us in Week 13 because we’d have a far better division record. And the Bucs (at Colts) and Cowboys (vs. Raiders) have games against AFC playoff contenders. The Cardinals could be in an even better position than they are now without even taking the field this week.
GET READY FOR THE BEARS
One thing that this team absolutely cannot afford to do is come out and lay an egg in Chicago coming out of the bye. We need to bring our A-game and put this dysfunctional team out of their misery, rather than looking ahead to the Rams in Week 14. Last year’s Collapsible Cardinals 1000% lose this game. I’ve already explained why this team won’t suffer the same fate, so they need to show everyone—fans, the national media, themselves—that these ain’t those Cardinals. Study the film, implement the game plan, execute it to perfection, and win by multiple TDs. That’s what we need to do in Week 13.
Of course, it can’t all be business. These guys all have families, so I hope they can put football aside for the day and enjoy some quality time with their loved ones. Well, they probably won’t put football entirely aside—there are games on, after all. But I hope they at least don’t subject themselves to the Bears-Lions morning game, truly the green bean casserole (or whatever your least-favorite Thanksgiving dish is) of the Turkey Day slate.
What else is on your bye week to-do list, Birdgang? What’s your least favorite Thanksgiving dish? Let’s talk turkey in the comments.