It certainly feels like a while since the Arizona Cardinals (4-8) have won a game. Their last win was in Week 10, when Arizona defeated a Los Angeles Rams team led by backup quarterback John Wolford.
They followed up the next two weeks with a blowout 38-10 loss to the San Francisco 49ers in Mexico City and suffered a deflating loss to the Los Angeles Chargers as they took the lead in the final 15 seconds of regulation.
Currently on a two-game losing streak and now having lost four out of their last five games, the Arizona Cardinals are one loss away from being eliminated from playoff contention.
Fresh off their bye week as they head into Week 14, Kyler Murray and the Cardinals will face the playoff hopeful New England Patriots (6-6) at home at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.
In their last meeting in 2020, the Cardinals suffered a heartbreaking loss to Bill Belichick’s Patriots with a successful Nick Folk game-winning field goal.
Here are four things to watch for in the Patriots-Cardinals game on Monday Night Football:
Hopkins and Hollywood Brown vs Patriots’ secondary
New England has had a high-ranked defense for years and that continues somewhat into 2022 as they have the ninth-ranked pass defense in the NFL. Though they have a rather stingy secondary, the Patriots will be without starting cornerback Jalen Mills. Their secondary has given up over 90 receiving yards to star receivers such as Stefon Diggs, Tyreek Hill, Justin Jefferson, and Garrett Wilson this season. With All-Pro receiver DeAndre Hopkins and Marquise “Hollywood” Brown up next, the Patriots’ defensive backfield will be tested big time. Jonathan Jones has stepped up this season as he leads New England with three interceptions but will he be enough to cover the likes of either of the Cardinals’ top receivers?
Cardinals’ battered offensive line must contain the Patriots’ pass rush
Here’s another week and the Cardinals are shuffling their offensive line yet again. With Rashaad Coward dealing with a chest injury, former second-round pick Cody Ford will be re-inserted into the starting lineup as their left guard. Ford has surrendered 13 pressures and was penalized twice in five games this season and he will likely be tasked to block Deatrich Wise, who leads the Patriots’ defensive line with 40 pressures and 6.5 sacks. Linebackers Matt Judon will be the pass rush menace to worry about with 13 sacks so far and he will present another big test for Cardinals’ 2020 third-round pick Josh Jones, who has played well in place of the injured starting left tackle D.J. Humphries. Kyler Murray has the weapons to succeed however, time just has not been on his side this season. Offensive line will be key for Arizona as with the pass rush for the Patriots.
Someone has to step up among these team’s struggling quarterbacks
Kyler Murray has been one of the most disappointing quarterbacks this season. Of course a banged up offensive line has led to some of his struggles but having the likes of DeAndre Hopkins and Hollywood Brown on the roster should make football life for Kyler a lot easier. Despite having both players together on the football field for the first time this season against the Chargers, the offense remained inconsistent against their very beatable defense. A $230 million quarterback with only 17 total touchdowns through 13 weeks of football is simply not good. On the other team, Patriots’ Mac Jones has seven touchdowns and seven interceptions with their offense leaving a lot to be desired. Cardinals’ Budda Baker as with the rest of their secondary should have it easy against a struggling Patriots’ pass offense.
Cardinals are not good against the run or defense overall; Rhamondre Stevenson should have a big night with Damien Harris ruled out
Despite their 23rd rank in rushing yards, the Patriots’ ground game is one of their strengths on their overall abysmal offense. Rhamondre Stevenson’s 734 rushing yards is good enough for 16th in the NFL. Cardinals’ 20th ranked run defense has allowed over 100 rushing yards in seven games this season. With Damien Harris ruled out, Stevenson should receive majority of the carries for New England as Arizona has allowed the 10th most yards per carry (4.6). However, they will be without starting right tackle Isaiah Wynn with a foot injury and two of their left tackles in Trent Brown and Yodny Cajuste are questionable to play. This should be beneficial for a Cardinals’ pass rush that has only 23 total sacks, which is the fourth-fewest in the NFL. J.J. Watt leads the Cardinals in sacks (6.5) and his defensive line teammate Zach Allen is second on the team with 4.5. Rookies Cam Thomas and Myjai Sanders lead the Cardinals’ outside linebacker position with two sacks each and they are not even starters. Defensive coordinator Vance Joseph’s propensity in dialing soft zones will likely make it easy for Jones to get simple completions so Arizona’s pass rushers will need to get to Jones quickly. This is either a get-right game for Joseph’s defense that’s allowing the second-most points in the NFL or another very disappointing night for the Cardinals in the desert.