The Arizona Cardinals are still searching for their first win with Kliff Kingsbury as their head coach. This week, Arizona will square off against the Carolina Panthers, who also have a zero in the win column.
The Cardinals began the season against the Detroit Lions in Week 1. For the first two quarters of the game, Kyler Murray and the offense looked out of sorts as they went into halftime down 24-9.
Then, Murray was able to will Arizona in an impressive comeback that gave them the chance to win the game in overtime. Sadly, the Cardinals and Lions both scored a field goal in overtime and it ended with a dreaded tie.
Entering Week 2, the Cardinals were heavy underdogs against the Baltimore Ravens. Despite the Cardinals being able to keep the game close, they fell to the Ravens 23-17.
With the loss to the Ravens, Arizona has fallen to 0-1-1 on the season, but they haven’t looked completely terrible as some expected. As for the Panthers, they will be without Cam Newton under center due to a foot injury. In his place, Kyle Allen will start for the Panthers at quarterback on Sunday.
With all of that being considered, here are four reasons why the Cardinals will beat the Panthers in Week 3.
4. Cardinals Can Apply Pressure on Defense
The Cardinals haven’t shown it yet but they have a very formidable pass-rushing duo with Chandler Jones and Terrell Suggs. Over the first two weeks of the season, Arizona has combined for just five sacks as a team.
On the other hand, the Panthers have allowed six sacks on Newton to begin the season (tied for seventh-most in NFL). However, with Allen being less mobile in the pocket than Newton, there could be more sacks to be had for Arizona.
Even if they aren’t able to bring Allen down, they should be able to make things difficult for the inexperienced quarterback on Sunday.
3. David Johnson Will Have Success Running the Ball
By looking at the Cardinals depth chart, they don’t appear to have a plethora of offensive weapons at their disposal. As much as that may be true, they have one of the most dynamic running backs in the NFL in David Johnson.
Johnson was unable to get going against a stingy Ravens defense in Week 2 but he flashed his upside in Kingsbury’s offense in Week 1. The dual-threat back out of Northern Iowa totaled 137 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown versus the Lions.
The Cardinals should have more success running the ball this weekend against the Panthers. Carolina currently has surrendered the seventh-most rushing yards in the first two weeks of the season. Controlling the time of possession could be the reason why the Cardinals win this week.
2. Kyler Murray Will Shine
There were struggles expected to come from Murray as he entered his rookie season in Arizona. The offensive line is shaky and he doesn’t have a consistent group of offensive weapons to get the ball every week.
Despite the limitations he’s been given, the reigning Heisman Trophy winner has looked comfortable in the pocket. Coming into Week 3, Murray has thrown for 657 yards, two touchdowns, and an interception.
After facing a tough test in the Ravens, he will go up against a Panthers secondary that has been surprisingly good to begin the season. As good as they’ve been, Murray should be able to work his magic as he carries the Cardinals to their first victory on Sunday.
1. Cam Newton Is Out
As mentioned before, the Panthers will be operating on offense without their franchise quarterback, Cam Newton. In order to win this game, the Cardinals are going to have to take advantage of his absence.
Newton may not be the same quarterback he once was but he still adds another dimension to Carolina’s offense with his ability to tuck the ball and run. Conversely, Kyle Allen, Newton’s replacement, isn’t nearly as talented at extending plays with his legs.
The Cardinals will need to key on containing Christian McCaffrey out of the backfield. With this intention, Arizona will want to force Allen to beat them through the air. Even without Patrick Peterson and Robert Alford, the Cardinals defense should be able to force Allen into inopportune mistakes.