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The NY Jets are in search of their first victory this week against the Arizona Cardinals.
And despite Arizona’s recent struggles, they’re unlikely to find that first victory here.
The Cardinals enter the game on a two-game losing streak falling to the Detroit Lions and Carolina Panthers in consecutive weeks. But they’ll be presented with a prime opportunity to turn things around against a hapless Jets team in Week 5.
The Jets have looked competitive for probably around five percent of the season so far with blowouts losses and apathetic performances highlighting their 2020 campaign.
We know how Jets fans are feeling heading into this Week 5 matchup. It’s probably a mixture of hopelessness, despair, and indifference. But what about Cardinals fans? How confident are they that their team will steamroll Gang Green?
We teamed up with Scott Allen of Raising Zona to help gain some insight into the mind of Cardinals fans going into this game. Scott is an expert on all things Cardinals and he helped us prepare for this Week 5 showdown.
Here are the results of our discussion.
Next: 1. What improvements must the Cardinals make?
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1. What improvements must the Cardinals make against the NY Jets?
The Cardinals entered the 2020 season with a ton of hype. Fresh of a Rookie of the Year campaign, quarterback Kyler Murray was a trendy pick for a breakout star this season, especially with the addition of DeAndre Hopkins to the offense.
Despite playing in a stacked NFC West, some even saw the Cardinals as favorites to win the division. And after a swift 2-0 start that included a victory over the defending NFC champion San Francisco 49ers, that prophecy seemed to be coming true.
Unfortunately, after two straight losses to less-than-stellar opponents in Detroit and Carolina, the Cardinals are in somewhat of an early-season panic. This game against the Jets is as must-win as any October game can be.
We asked Scott what improvements the Cardinals must make against the Jets to avoid a letdown. This is how he responded.
“They need two things. First their defense needs to get off a better pass rush. It has been non-existent.
Also the offensive line needs improvement on Sunday. Cardinals running back Kenyan Drake is only averaging 3.8-yards per carry. That won’t get it done.”
Next: 2. How will the return of Budda Baker help?
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2. How will the return of Budda Baker help the Cardinals against the NY Jets?
The Cardinals defense has been hit or miss in 2020 and a lot of that can be attributed to the health of star safety Budda Baker. Baker injured his thumb early in the season and originally attempted to play through the injury.
However, the team decided it was best that he undergo a minor surgical procedure to fix the injury which caused him to miss Week 4. Despite most expecting him to be out for at least a couple of weeks, Baker is set to return in Week 5 after missing just one game.
That’s good news for a Cardinals defense that sure missed him last week against the Panthers. We asked Scott how Baker’s return will impact the defense.
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“Baker played two weeks ago with his thumb heavily taped. He struggled a bit and it showed. Last week he had his surgery and was initially expected to miss at least a couple of games.
However he is returning this week. It almost seems to be out of necessity. I’m almost certain the Cardinals would like to sit him at least one more week, especially given next week’s game is on Monday night.
But, the Cardinals are thin because of injuries at safety. “
Next: 3. How can the Cardinals' offense live up to the hype?
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3. What can the Cardinals do to tap into their full potential on offense against the NY Jets?
The Cardinals’ offense has been underwhelming in 2020. This isn’t to say that the unit has been bad per se — they just haven’t lived up to expectations.
An offense featuring the likes of Kyler Murray, DeAndre Hopkins, Christian Kirk, Larry Fitzgerald, and Kenyan Drake, among others, should be averaging more than 24.5 points per game.
Arizona currently ranks 21st in points per game and 17th in yards per game despite having one of the most explosive offenses in the league on paper.
Part of that is due to a lackluster offensive line that hasn’t made life easy for Murray and Drake. But Scott also places some blame on the team’s head coach.
“They need better play-calling. Kliff Kingsbury has accepted responsibility for the poor offensive output, especially last week against the Carolina Panthers.
The Cardinals are still trying to feel themselves out on the offensive side of the ball. Last week it never seemed like they either knew what they were doing or were just winging it.
Even against the Jets, the Cardinals need to come in with a better gameplan or the Jets will have a legitimate shot at winning.”
Next: 4. What positional matchup are you most looking forward to?
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4. What positional matchup against the NY Jets are you most looking forward to in this game?
The Cardinals match-up pretty favorably against the Jets — as most teams in the NFL do. There are few positions where the Jets can confidently say that they have the advantage.
We asked Scott about the one positional matchup that he’s most looking forward to in this game. He pinpointed the Cardinals’ pass rush against the Jets’ offensive line.
Arizona’s pass-rush has been fine this season, but they haven’t had the true breakout performance that many have been expecting. Chandler Jones has just one sack on the year and no one on the team has amassed more than two.
But while the Jets’ offensive line is improved, they’re far from a good unit which could provide an opportunity for the Cardinals’ pass-rush to have the breakout game they’ve been searching for.
Scott highlighted the importance of getting pressure on quarterback Joe Flacco.
“I need to see a better pass rush. They’ve gotten little pressure on the quarterback. Chandler Jones has just one sack so far this season. Once again, that’s not going to cut it.
If this team can’t get to Joe Flacco at least several times on Sunday, there is something seriously wrong and in need of immediate change.”
Next: 5. Final predictions for the game?
5. Final prediction for Cardinals vs. NY Jets — who do you think wins and what’s the final score?
Much like every game the Jets will play this season, this one seems like a foregone conclusion. Despite Arizona’s recent struggles, and despite the fact that they will be traveling across the country on the road, they’re the heavy favorites entering Week 5.
Their roster is just too talented for the Jets to actually compete with. Moreover, if the Jets are too incompetent to even look respectable against a much worse Denver Broncos team, they don’t stand a chance against the Cardinals.
Jets fans have no confidence heading into this game. But what about Cardinals fans? We asked Scott for his final predictions ahead of Week 5.
Surprisingly, he isn’t quite as sold on a Cardinals victory.
“All week I’ve been saying, give the Jets a chance and I still believe that. I don’t think the Cardinals fans that thought they’d cakewalk through the first five games think that anymore. There are some that really now think the Jets could win.
I’ve said any given Sunday. However if this Cardinals team is serious about contending for a wild card playoff spot this season, then they need to come out with a much better start and better game plan on Sunday.
I do think in the end they pull this one out 24-16.”
Special thanks again to Scott for his help and make sure to check out more of his work over at Raising Zona.