Enemy Intel - Arizona Cardinals vs. WFT
The Arizona Cardinals come into 2020 as one of the more sexy picks to make a splash this season.
Despite playing in arguably the most competitive division in football, the team from the desert has high hopes in both of their second year investments -- quarterback Kyler Murray and Head Coach Kliff Kingsbury.
Although there was an expected learning curve for the pair in year one, the team looked promising in a surprising victory against the defending NFC Champions, the San Francisco 49ers last week. The Cardinals came out on top 24-20.
Now they host the Washington Football Team, who had a surprising victory of their own.
The teams square of this Sunday in Glendale at 4 PM and we've got you covered here at Washington Football at SI.com.
Take a look at our second installment of the Enemy Intel series, where I take an in-depth look at Washington’s opponents, so you don’t have to.
I'll look at projected win totals, dig in to key losses/additions and find key quotes that relate to the Washington Football Team.
Vegas Projected Wins: 7.5 Wins
2019 Record: 5-10-1, 4th in the NFC West
Offensive Ranks, 2019: 24th Passing, 10th Rushing, 21st Overall
Defensive Ranks, 2019: 31st Passing, 24th Rushing, 32nd overall
After Week 1:
Offensive Ranks, 2020: 9th Passing, 2nd Rushing, 6th Overall
Defensive Ranks, 2020: 20th Passing, 17th Rushing, 22nd Overall
Key Additions: WR Deandre Hopkins, LB De’Vondre Campbell, LB Devon Kennard, DL Jordan Phillips, LB Isaiah Simmons (8th overall pick)
Key Losses: CB Robert Alford (torn pectoral), RB David Johnson (traded to Texans), WR Pharoh Cooper (signed 1-year deal with Panthers), DL Rodney Gunter (signed 3-year deal with Jaguars), TE Charles Clay, OL A.Q. Shipley, LB Brooks Reed.
What they are saying:
Senior Sportswriter, Bob McManaman of The Arizona Republic found an interesting trend for the Arizona Cardinals, who have a reputation as passing team:
Players to Watch:
- Murray is the centerpiece of Kingsbury’s offense. In addition to passing the ball 40 times in week one, he also carried the ball 13 times for 91 yards and a touchdown. He had QB scrambles of 22 and 25 yards, with the former being a touchdown run. His 85.0 QBR rating in week one was only topped by Lamar Jackson (94.1), Aaron Rodgers (92.9), Patrick Mahomes (90.4) and Russell Wilson (87.5).
- DeAndre Hopkins was fed early and often in his Arizona debut. He was targeted 16 times and hauled in 14 of them, which was a career-high. His 151 receiving yards accounted for 65% of the Cardinals passing game. Murray passed for 230 yards against the 49ers.
- Budda Baker was a man on a mission in week one. The hybrid safety accounted for 15 total tackles and was deployed as both a blitzer and cover-man. He is a chess piece for Arizona and someone Washington should account for.
- Chandler Jones tallied a sack in the season debut; something that is common for the standout outside linebacker. In 2019, he finished the season with 19 sacks (a career high) and was the runner-up in the Defensive Player of the Year voting.
- Kicker Zane Gonzalez missed two of his field goal attempts last week. The Cardinals have explored Mike Nugent as a possible replacement.
The Cardinals present a unique challenge for the Burgundy and Gold. Although the Washington defensive front was menacing against the Eagles, they may be neutralized by one of the more dynamic offenses in the league. Coach Kingsbury uses shotgun as a base-set and Murray rarely lines up under center. Empty backfields and multiple receiver sets are the norm. Arizona also uses running backs as integral parts of the passing game.
Look for Murray to release the ball quickly and play the role of point guard in Arizona's offense. Wide receiver screens and running back dump-offs were used frequently against the 49ers and negated their vaunted pass rush. Murray was only sacked twice, and hit five times. Well off of his league-high 48 sacks last season.
In terms of their defense, Arizona is susceptible to giving up plays in the middle of the field, as seen from George Kittle's production last week and a 76-yard catch from 49er RB Raheem Mostert. They also gave up large gains on the ground.
The game will ultimately come down to whether Washington can contain Murray and limit his scrambling time in the backfield.
For some reason I'm confident in this one, and believe that Jack Del Rio will cook something up for the birds. I'm taking Washington in this one, 24-21.
Westgate Sportsbook: Over/Under 47. Cardinals -6.5
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George Carmi joined "Washington Football" on SI.com in April. He is also an editor/contributing writer to FullPressCoverage.com or @FPC_Redskins. He is a native of the DC metropolitan area and is an avid fan of DC Sports. A former journalism major at the University of Maryland, his focus is now in public education. His earliest memories consist of Darrell Green, "The Posse" and Super Bowl XXVI. Follow him on twitter @Gcarmi21