When the NFL released it's 2023 schedule back in April, things were looking grim for the Arizona Cardinals. At first glance, there weren't a whole lot of games that seemed like sure victories for head coach Jonathan Gannon's group. In fact, a number of the league's analysts believed that the Cards would struggle to win a single matchup.
The Cincinnati Bengals, this coming weekend's opponent, are just one of the teams that were expected to beat up on the Cardinals. Fortunately, things haven't been going great for the squad that will pay visit to State Farm Stadium in Week 5. Cincy's offense, in particular, has looked mostly dreadful through the first month of the season.
Just last month, Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow was signed to a five-year, $275 million extension by the club's front office. A few days later, the 26-year-old began one of the worst stretches of his four-year professional career.
Through the first four contests, Burrow has completed an ugly 57.6% of his throws for the Cincinnati offense. This from a passer who just two years ago led the league with a sparkling 70.4 completion-percentage rate. Burrow has been credited with just two touchdown tosses, and the Bengals have stumbled to a disappointing 1-3 start.
Week 5 opponent's underperforming offense could be just what the Arizona Cardinals defense needs
Burrow's subpar play has obviously filtered down to Cincinnati's talented set of wide receivers. Ja'Marr Chase, a two-time Pro Bowler, has yet to find the end zone and is averaging a lousy 9.6 yards per reception. Number-two wideout Tee Higgins has had a bad case of the dropsies, and Tyler Boyd has been somewhat of a non-factor.
The Bengals rushing attack has also been nothing to write home about. Joe Mixon is averaging a mediocre 4.2 yards per carry, and has scored just once. A huge difference from what the Arizona defense had to go up against in Week 4.
Last Sunday, the Cards basically had zero answers for the San Francisco 49ers running game. Christian McCaffrey registered 106 yards and three touchdowns on the ground, and also added another 71 yards and a score on seven catches.
What McCaffrey did to the Cardinals is nothing new. The two-time Pro Bowler, when healthy, may be professional football's most explosive weapon. It was the ease in which McCaffrey knifed his way through the Arizona defenders that raised some concerns.
Following last week's debacle, defensive coordinator Nick Rallis' contingent desperately needs a bounceback performance. Burrow's injured calf could make him a sitting duck for a Cards pass rush that has looked formidable at times. Putting an ample amount of pressure on the Cincinnati signal-caller will go a long way in assuring that Arizona notches their second triumph of the '23 campaign.
(Statistics provided by Pro Football Reference and ESPN.com)