The rollercoaster of a season that the New England Patriots have had thus far continued last week in another loss to the Houston Texans. It seemed like neither the offense or defense could carry the momentum of the win over Baltimore into Week 11.
The Patriots face another tough opponent this week in the Arizona Cardinals, who have a top-ranked offense under head coach Kliff Kingsbury and quarterback Kyler Murray.
Although this may not seem like a lot of yards so far this season, Kyler Murray's 2644 total passing yards is certainly more than Cam Newton can boast. Murray has lead the Cardinals to a 6-4 record and one of the top ranked offenses this season.
With a 68.3 percent completion percentage, the Patriots defense will need to find a way to put pressure on the young quarterback. Murray has thrown eight interceptions so far, so if the defense can put enough pressure on him they can force important turnovers that will give the offense more chances to put points on the scoreboard.
Not only is Murray a threat in the pocket, but he has also rushed for 619 yards so far this season, which means he sits 11th in the league in that category and ahead of big name running backs like Alvin Kamara and Todd Gurley II.
This information can be interpreted in two different ways: either Murray has to run because of a lot of broken plays, or the offense has been designed around his athleticism, or both.
While the Patriots defense needs to worry about pressuring him into making mistakes, they also need to be aware of his running capabilities.
The Patriots have heavily relied on the guys in the backfield this season, but Damien Harris, James White and Rex Burkhead rushed for a combined 69 yards in last week's game against the Texans.
Harris and Burkhead have been outstanding compared to the rest of the offense so far this season. The team has had greater success the more rush yards the running backs accrue. However, the Patriots must face another challenge after losing Burkhead for the rest of the season with a torn ACL.
The team activated Sony Michel from injured reserve last week, and he has hasn't played since Week 3's win against the Las Vegas Raiders. But will he be healthy enough to start making an immediate impact for the team?
In order for this Patriots team to find success moving forward, they must establish a consistent, explosive rushing attack. That means 69 rushing yards won't be enough in a single game moving forward.