It’s the battle of the birds. The Arizona Cardinals look to build off of their best offensive game in over a year when they travel across the country to take on the Baltimore Ravens. The Cardinals put up 387 yards total, 275 yards through the air, the most they’ve had in a game since week six of 2017. Head coach Kliff Kingsbury’s offense also scored 27 points in his first game. Something the Cardinals have only done three times since Carson Palmer’s retirement.
It’ll be a real early test for Arizona’s offense as it will be the first NFL road game of Kingbury’s and Kyler Murray’s careers. The Ravens defense has always been one of the better units in the game for what seems to be about 20 years straight. And in a year where a lot of people thought the Ravens D wouldn’t be as talented as years past, they showed out in week one (granted against the Miami Dolphins) forcing three turnovers, sacking Dolphin quarterbacks three times and only allowing 200 yards of offense total.
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While the Ravens lost big impacts players on that side of the ball such as Eric Weddle, C.J. Mosley and Terrell Suggs (who is now on the Cardinals), the defense still shouldn’t be an issue as they are well-coached and have a very strong secondary.
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Matchups to watch:
Offensive Tackle Justin Murray vs. Outside Linebacker Matt Judon
- Justin Murray is going to have his hands full Sunday and expect him to be tested a lot while filling in at right tackle following the injury to Marcus Gilbert. Murray will be making his second career start and look to better protect the quarterback than they did against the Lions when they gave up six sacks. Four-year pro, Matt Judon is off to a hot start in 2019, last game against the Dolphins, Judon recorded a sack and two tackles for loss. He has 20 sacks over the last three seasons and one game. The Ravens like blitz fairly often too, especially on third down. It’ll be an extremely tough task for a not-so-great Cardinals offensive line, with a rookie quarterback and coach to handle the exotic blitzes from defensive coordinator Don Martindale.
Wide Receiver Larry Fitzgerald vs. Cornerback Marlon Humphrey
- The ageless 36-year old year, future Hall of Famer is still getting things done early in his 16th season. Last week Fitzgerald snagged eight balls for 113 yards and a touchdown, including the game-tying score with 47 seconds left. Fitz looked great in Kingsbury offense running routes and understanding where the open zones would be. That won’t be the case this week facing off against arguably the best secondary in the league. The Ravens secondary consists of four studs: Jimmy Smith (Ruled out for Sunday), Marlon Humphrey, Earl Thomas, and former Cardinal Tony Jefferson. Having very skilled, versatile defensive backs allows the Ravens defense to do a lot to confuse opposing quarterbacks. But, I would expect to see Humphrey lined-up across from Fitzgerald the majority of the game. The Ravens saw the film and saw how much Murray likes to throw to Fitzgerald, they are going to focus on using the young stud out of Alabama and some help to take him away and make Murray beat them elsewhere.
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Baltimore’s Air Defense
Baltimore prefers to play man-to-man coverage because they have the corners to do it. They want to force Murray to throw into a tight window and to throw it quickly by bringing pressure. In my previous article, Expectations for Kingsbury’s Offense in First Season, I explained the Air-Raid a little and the crucial ‘Mesh” play concept. Expect the man coverage to be tight and for Murray to have to make some tough throws. Murray must be cautious of other defensive backs leaving their assignment to jump a pass. He has to be able to look at other receivers first before coming to the one he wants. The Cardinals could use the Ravens’ aggressiveness against them and slip a guy out somewhere and pick up some big plays that way.
– Brenden Snow is a staff writer with Full Press Coverage Cardinals. Like and follow on Follow @Bsnow97//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js Follow @Cardinals//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js and Facebook.