Sports

Arizona Cardinals off to hot 3-0 start, but face NFC elite in Rams next

Kyler Murray needs to minimize mistakes and prove he’s ready to play with the elite.

Kyler Murray needs to minimize mistakes and prove he’s ready to play with the elite.
Image: Getty Images

 

No Larry Fitzgerald, no problem for the 3-0 Cardinals.

Arizona is off to its best start under head coach Kliff Kingsbury, and the franchise’s best overall since 2015. That Cardinals team went 13-3 under head coach Bruce Arians, earning a trip to the NFC Championship, where they fell short against the Panthers, 49-15.

Some feel the Cardinals are playing to keep Kingsbury off the hot seat. If that’s true, this team has gone above and beyond to have their coach’s back. Arizona and Tampa Bay are the only two teams to score over 100 points through three weeks of the season, averaging 34.3 points per game. The Cardinals are second in total yards (1,297) and yards per game (432.3). Kingsbury’s offense is clicking, and it’s paying early dividends.

The Cardinals kind of remind me of a young boxer or pro wrestler who the promoter is attempting to build up by placing lesser opponents in front of them before setting up a date with the champ. Opponent number four on the schedule for Arizona may not be the champs, but they will be the toughest matchup for the Cardinals yet.

Traveling to Los Angeles in Week 4 to play the Rams should show us how much of a contender these Cardinals can be this year. Arizona’s quick start is excellent, but they need to sustain it. Even if they lose in L.A., it has to be in a back and forth shoot-out that comes down to who has the last offensive possession. They can’t get blown out or taken behind the woodshed by the Rams.

Both teams are giving up a little over 20 points-per-game through their first three this year. So, I expect this one to be high-scoring and full of action from the first snap. A game like this with two potent offenses led by quarterbacks that can make every throw will come down to the turnover battle. Whichever defense can take the ball away more often in this game will determine the outcome. The Cardinals are tied for second place with seven takeaways on defense, while the Rams have four.

If the Cardinals can sneak out of LA with a win over the Rams, you’ll begin to hear way too early talks about Kingsbury as a frontrunner for Coach of the Year honors. Whether he’d be deserving or not, it’s still a little early for that kind of talk.

For Kyler Murray, this game is a chance to show that he can put the team on his back and go on the road to win a big game. Going into SoFi Stadium to beat one of the NFC favorites would do just that. For this to happen, Murray will need to minimize mistakes. He’s already thrown at least one interception in each game this season, and had two against Minnesota in Week 2. If that happens against the Rams, it could be a long day for Murray and his teammates.

So, we’ll see what Kingsbury can cook up for the Rams and if they can hang with the biggest, baddest dog in the yard. I think the Cardinals will lose a close one, but, even in defeat, confidence can be gained, and used as experience moving forward in a long season. 

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