After having last week off, the Cardinals are back into the fire against a surging Miami Dolphins team. Both are in second place in their divisions and fighting for playoff spots entering the second half of the season.
Numbers to know for Sunday afternoon:
Both teams have won three straight games, and have done so in different ways.
Arizona has scored 30 or more points in each of its last three outings while the Dolphins have allowed 17 points or fewer in each of their last three.
The Cardinals won blowouts at the equally putrid New York Jets and Dallas Cowboys, then handed the previously undefeated Seattle Seahawks their first loss before the bye. Miami obliterated the San Francisco 49ers and the Jets, then defeated the Los Angeles Rams 28-17 in quarterback Tua Tagovailoa’s first NFL start.
The Cardinals have outscored opponents 105-54 in that span and Miami 95-34.
A pair of quarterbacks wearing No. 1 face off for the first time in the NFL.
Kyler Murray was the top overall pick in 2019 and Tagovailoa was the fifth pick in 2020. The last time these two played against each other was in the Orange Bowl in 2018 at Hard Rock Stadium in south Florida, oddly enough. Tagovailoa’s Alabama Crimson Tide took down Murray and Oklahoma 45-34 but both quarterbacks shined with over 300 passing yards and three total touchdowns (Murray had a rushing score).
Murray ended up winning the Heisiman Trophy for that season, with Tagovailoa coming in second.
The Cardinals have gained more yards per game than any other team in the NFL at 419.1. The Dolphins lead the league in fewest points allowed at 18.6, just ahead of the Baltimore Ravens (18.9).
The Cardinals gained 519 yards against Seattle, surpassing their season-high of 496 from the Jets game. Murray passed for a career-high 380 yards against New York.
"It's a good stat, a lot of progress from last year to this year," Murray said. "But this is a long season. We've got a lot of work to do."
The Dolphins allow a fair share of yards, but have the second-best third-down stop percentage, fourth-fewest penalties and fourth-most takeaways per game.
The NFC West leads all divisions with 20 wins this season. Entering Week 9, it was the only one where every team was .500.
No other division has more than two teams with a positive score differential, and the West has four. Plus, it is the only division in which every team has allowed fewer than 200 points after Week 8.
The Seahawks lead at 6-1, with the Cardinals right behind at 5-2 and Los Angeles at 5-3. However, the Dolphins have played each team in this division except for Arizona thus far, and have fared well.
They had a 43-17 win over the 49ers and won 28-17 over the Rams in games that were never in doubt from the early on. The Seahawks took them down 31-23 in Week 4, but Miami kept it competitive throughout the game.
The Cardinals got back edge rusher Markus Golden from the New York Giants, and he is he set to make his re-debut this week.
"He's fit in well and practiced well this week and has a great grasp of what we're asking him to do," head coach Kliff Kingsbury said. "So, I expect him to play meaningful reps and have an impact on the game on Sunday."
Golden was with Arizona from 2015-2018. He had 19 sacks in 46 games with Arizona. With outside linebacker Devon Kennard out for Sunday after he was placed on reserve/COVID-19, Golden’s importance to a pass rush already without Chandler Jones (biceps) escalated.