The Arizona Cardinals will travel to the Mojave Desert looking to prove they are better than they played in last week’s embarrassing loss.
Week 2 is where teams that dominated may crash back to Earth while teams who forgot to show up will finally display some urgency. Of course, there are outliers, but the Arizona Cardinals are too good of a football team, even with the injuries, to let teams routinely walk all over them.
And in Week 2, it won’t be the case if they realize a fact Kliff Kingsbury pointed out on Monday: Practice habits must change. Then again, there are times where I feel the locker is controlling him, so we’ll see if the team takes ownership of their shortcomings that date back to training camp.
If the Cardinals realize they need to give it their all during the week so they will be ready on game day, then the following predictions may not seem so bold. Until further notice, however, what you are about to read below can only be classified as such.
Prediction #1 – Isaiah Simmons goes off
I was critical of Isaiah Simmons’ performance last week against the Chiefs. While it’s true he lined up at slot corner more than he did at inside linebacker, Simmons is also an athlete who played and excelled in multiple positions since his days at Clemson.
An athlete of Simmons’ caliber, however, is also capable of making a splash when it’s least expected. To at least show he’s better than he played so far, Simmons will be a major factor in all the right ways this week, regardless of where he plays, whether it’s linebacker, slot corner, safety, etc.
While it’s farfetched to believe he will become a premier defensive player this season, Simmons has strung together solid performances in the past after posting subpar play. Acting under the assumption he takes ownership for his lack of preparedness last Sunday, expect a big game this week, and we will see if it carries over into Week 3.
Prediction #2 – Kyler Murray tosses 3 touchdowns, runs for another
No one has faced more scrutiny this week than Kyler Murray. The former top pick in the 2019 NFL Draft is supposed to be the kind of player to elevate those around him. Instead, Murray once again showed he and the Arizona Cardinals can’t function as an offense without DeAndre Hopkins.
Except the Raiders pass defense looked almost as bad as the Cardinals last week, which will give Murray a chance at redemption. While the Cardinals allowed 9.2 net yards per pass attempt on Sunday, the Raiders were the third-worst in the league at 8.2. They were also 25th in passing yards allowed against Justin Herbert and company.
Look for Murray to take advantage, tossing a touchdown pass to Zach Ertz, Marquise Brown, and Greg Dortch in this one. Murray will also scramble for another in an attempt to bring himself back to respectability this week.
Prediction #3 – Arizona Cardinals defense allows fewer than 20 points
The Cardinals allowed an inexcusable 44 points last week. And while Derek Carr, Davante Adams, and Darren Waller are coming, along with running back Josh Jacobs, look for the likes of Budda Baker, Jalen Thompson, and Byron Murphy to clamp down on the Raiders, with as mentioned earlier, help from Isaiah Simmons.
Given the struggles we saw last week from the Raiders offense, the Cardinals defense has a golden opportunity to shut them down. But this will all rest on the team’s practice habits and whether Kingsbury will somehow find a way to get the best out of both his team and the defense.
If this prediction becomes a reality, maybe I’ll retract my statements earlier in the week when I said Kingsbury lost control of the locker room. Yet then again, this is why I’m making the bold prediction the defense will allow fewer than 20 points as opposed to just predicting it logistically.
(Statistics provided by Pro-Football-Reference)