The Arizona Cardinals will have a tough task ahead as they visit the Mojave Desert to face the Las Vegas Raiders in an important Week 2 showdown.
After a poor showing in Week 1 in which the unprepared Arizona Cardinals let their season opener get out of hand after just three quarters, they will face yet another talented offense at Allegiant Stadium in the Raiders. Led by quarterback Derek Carr, the Raiders passing game features two dynamic pass catchers in Davante Adams and Darren Waller.
The Raiders also have one of the game’s more relentless running backs in Josh Jacobs, which will further pose a challenge for the Cardinals banged-up defense. Overall, the Cardinals are playing a team who fared better than their points total from last week.
Analyzing Arizona Cardinals Week 2 opponent – Las Vegas Raiders
Davante Adams and Darren Waller are tough to contain on their own accord. Stopping the duo, or at least containing them, will not be easy. Adams and Waller have numerous accolades to their names, and quarterback Derek Carr will target the two early.
For the Cardinals to stop the Raiders, they don’t just need to contain Adams and Waller; they must also stop running back Josh Jacobs, one of the most tenacious at his respective position. But before we break down Jacobs, let’s talk more about the Carr-Waller-Adams connection.
Carr is one of the league’s more underrated quarterbacks. And while he’s one rung under Patrick Mahomes and Russell Wilson, and perhaps even Justin Herbert, the Cardinals can’t face him in the same ill-prepared manner that they faced Mahomes. Even in today’s game, it is not easy to throw for 4,000 passing yards four years in a row, before tossing over 4,800 in 2021.
Such productivity gets easier when you have players like Darren Waller on the roster. Add Davante Adams, and Carr can light up the Cardinals defense in a similar way Mahomes did. Throw slot man Hunter Renfrow into the mix, and you can expect Carr and the Raiders passing game to spread the Cardinals out.
Josh Jacobs had just 10 carries in Week 1, but he gained 57 yards in the process. Last week, the Cardinals could not stop the run, even in garbage time, when Isiah Pacheco, the 251st overall pick in this year’s NFL Draft, ran all over them, averaging 4.9 yards per carry and 68 rushing yards.
Once again, the Cardinals could not stop the run. And while Jacobs isn’t the best back in football to any degree, he is one of the most rugged at the position. His motor never stops and he can spell trouble for the Cardinals defense.
If Kyler Murray gets hot this week, the Cardinals could realistically hang with the Raiders regardless of whether they give up chunks of passing yards to Adams and Waller. Last Sunday, the Raiders gave up 279 yards through the air, the eighth most of any team in Week 1.
To take advantage of the porous pass defense, Murray needs to get rid of the ball early to negate a potential persistent pass rush from Chandler Jones and Maxx Crosby. Murray should see more of Zach Ertz and our MVP from Week 1, Greg Dortch.
We may also see some Trey McBride this week if the Cardinals need a helping hand. Murray, however, will not have Rondale Moore or Andy Isabella for Week 2. Even with the shortage of receivers on hand, Murray showed last week that he has a good rapport with Dortch and in 2021, he displayed that same rapport with Ertz.
James Conner had a tough outing against the Chiefs, with just 10 rushing attempts for 26 yards, averaging 2.6 yards per carry. Conner, Murray, Eno Benjamin, and company will go up against a rushing defense that allowed 2.5 yards per carry last weekend, fewer than any other team.
And it wasn’t like the Los Angeles Chargers didn’t run the football – the Raiders held them to just 76 rushing yards on 31 attempts in what was a phenomenal showing. Crosby led the charge, with 10 combined tackles while corner Nate Hobbs tallied two behind the line.
Deablo Divine had a great outing with seven combined stops. Despite the productivity, Raiders linebacker Denzel Perryman and safety Tre’von Moehrig will miss this one. Further, the Cardinals had a nice revelation in Eno Benjamin, so perhaps he can provide a breakthrough in tomorrow’s contest if Conner cannot.
Overall, the Cardinals are facing one of the league’s most prolific passers in Derek Carr, whose receiving unit also has potential to be one of the league’s best. They will also deal with Josh Jacobs, who can get hot at any time.
Kyler and company, despite the injuries and suspensions to his pass catchers, does have two reliable targets in Zach Ertz and Greg Dortch. If one more player steps up and Murray gets rid of the ball quickly, the Arizona Cardinals may have a viable passing game, especially against a weak passing defense like the Raiders.
(Statistics provided by Pro-Football-Reference)