PREDICTIONS: Cardinals, Titans open season each with several new players

Cardinals Football
Posted at 3:46 PM, Sep 10, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-12 12:18:10-04

The Arizona Cardinals and Tennessee Titans open the season against each other Sunday with a handful of players in new jerseys.

J.J. Watt and DeAndre Hopkins are reunited with the Cardinals, who also added A.J. Green. Julio Jones now is with the Titans.

This will be only the 12th game between these teams and the first time they have met in a season opener.

Arizona has won the last two but the last three have been decided by a combined 11 points.

Each of the first two games between these teams played at Nissan Stadium came down to the final play.

Come Monday morning, half the league's fanbases will have Super Bowl aspirations, while the other half will want coaches fired.

It's the type of overreaction that comes with a one-week sample size.

DeAndre Hopkins said this week he hopes one game doesn't define the Cardinals, but there's no question they are one of the more intriguing teams to keep an eye on, mainly because they have boom-or-bust potential.

With the Tennessee Titans on the schedule right out of the gate, I do feel like we'll learn a lot about where this Cardinals team is at.

Depending on how their defense fares, the Titans can be a legitimate Super Bowl contender.

Their offense certainly has the firepower.

Derrick Henry, coming off the 8th 2,000-yard rushing season in NFL history, is quite the problem for rookie linebacker Zaven Collins and company. Future Hall of Famer Julio Jones being added to the mix alongside Pro Bowl wideout AJ Brown is one more weapon to worry about, but the Cardinals have no shortage of A-list names on their roster either.

To me, that is the most intriguing big-picture question about these Cardinals. What are they going to get out of 32-year-old J.J. Watt, 33-year-old A.J. Green, even Chandler Jones coming off a major injury at 31-years-old?

On paper, the Cardinals look legit, but the defense concerns me. Malcolm Butler's surprise retirement leaves them with three viable corners, one of them being a rookie. The Zaven Collins-Isaiah Simmons experiment in the middle of the defense could be great long-term, but in the short-term, I think there will be serious growing pains.

Offensively, there is no excuse now. Kliff Kingsbury and Kyler Murray have plenty of weapons to work with, and a good offensive line to work behind. I think the key to Sunday's game in Nashville boils down to the Cardinals taking advantage of their opportunities in the red zone. The Titans can control the clock, and last year they were second-best in the NFL at converting red-zone trips into touchdowns. Kyler and co. need to punch it in and keep the crowd at bay.

In the end, I think the Titans show us why they're a contender this season.

Titans 34, Cardinals 23