3 key matchups for the Arizona Cardinals vs Raiders – Week 2
The Arizona Cardinals started the 2022 season off in the worst way possible. And things won’t get any easier as they travel to the Mojave Desert.
If there is one positive trait in Kliff Kingsbury, it’s his optimism. And you can bet that he, even if things look bleak regarding his control of the Arizona Cardinals locker room, will at least have this team motivated to come out and play.
While it’s a mystery whether he will actually have them prepared, Kingsbury’s optimism will trickle down the roster. So expect the Cardinals to at least come out with more spring in their step as opposed to their uninspiring performance in Week 1.
Yet if Kingsbury is looking for an entirely different result from last week’s debacle, he needs to find answers to the issues that let the Chiefs wreak havoc at State Farm Stadium. Here are three of those matchups.
Matchup #1 – Arizona Cardinals secondary vs Davante Adams
With 10 receptions and 141 yards receiving, Adams has already solidified himself as the Raiders top wideout. The Cardinals secondary, meanwhile, struggled to contain seemingly every one of Patrick Mahomes’ top targets.
This week, the Cardinals will have their hands full with Adams, but you also can’t forget about Hunter Refrow, who is capable of quietly putting up good numbers. The tandem of Byron Murphy and Marco Wilson need to step up for this one and put last week’s poor performances behind them.
It also wouldn’t be surprising to see help come from the safety positions here, either. If the Cardinals can get former Raider Trayvon Mullen back in time for this one, it would be a huge help.
Matchup #2 – Inside linebackers and secondary vs Darren Waller
Isaiah Simmons and Zaven Collins were among several Cardinals didn’t show up to cover Travis Kelce last week. To be fair, they did not get much help over the top, but it didn’t stop Pro Football Focus from handing Simmons a 39.3 grade while Collins didn’t fare much better. Collins looked okay in stopping the run, but he too didn’t provide much help in coverage.
This week, the defense will deal with Darren Waller and you can expect a repeat from last week if the duo of Simmons and Collins stumble through a repeat performance. Like Kelce, Waller is one of the best tight ends in football and quarterback Derek Carr will be calling his number all game long if he finds the same gaps the duo left last week.
Matchup #3 – Tackles versus Raiders pass rush
Maxx Crosby and Chandler Jones won’t make life easy for D.J. Humphries and Kelvin Beachum. The duo combined for three quarterback hits last week while Crosby seemed to be making a play left and right.
Want a mind-blowing statistic from last week? The Chiefs pressured Kyler Murray on 70.3% of his dropbacks. Of those 26 pressures, the Chiefs hurried him 19 times. Yeah, no wonder they were down 37-7 after three quarters.
With a dynamic duo that Jones and Crosby will be, something has got to give regarding the Cardinals pass blocking. The Chiefs only sacked Murray twice and hit him five times on Sunday, but he can’t spend all of Week 2 running for his life if the Cardinals expect to score more than seven points when it counts.
(Statistics provided by Pro-Football-Reference)