GLENDALE, AZ — The Arizona Cardinals have historically struggled against the Carolina Panthers, losing 11 of their last 14 match-ups. Both teams are struggling with injuries to some of their best players (more on that later), so it’ll be interesting to see who pulls out the win this week.
Kyler Murray and the Cardinals are trying to bounce back from a disappointing performance against Detroit, while Carolina is coming off a scrappy win over the Los Angeles Chargers.
So who will pick up the win in Week 4? Here are predictions from the ABC15 sports team.
Sports Director Craig Fouhy
Regardless of everything else, the first thing we need to point out is that DeAndre Hopkins (struggling this week with an ankle injury) is now a game-time decision. Hopkins has not practiced at all this week. Why is that important? Hopkins leads the NFL with 32 receptions for 356 yards. The South Carolina native and Clemson product has caught 86.5% of his targets, ranking fourth among qualifying players. He’s Kyler Murray’s #1 target.
Ok, with that out of the way, the next thing to note is that the Panthers defense is dreadful so far this season. They rank dead last in quarterback sacks and 31st in 3rd-down efficiency, allowing opponents to convert on 57% of third downs.
Another key point, the Panthers do-everything running back/receiver Christian McCaffrey is out with a high-ankle sprain. McCaffrey is the biggest difference-maker Carolina has, so that should give the Cardinals defense a bit of a breather. But then again, I thought the Lions would do that last week.
And then there’s the Cardinals defensive secondary that’s depleted with injuries. Budda Baker out, Chris Banjo out and Dre Kirkpatrick listed as questionable. That might give QB Teddy Bridgewater a reason to drool this week.
Bottom line for me is, Kyler Murray has to be better and Kliff Kingsbury has to call a great game. If they both do their part, the Cardinals get a win on the road.
I think the Cardinals win in a squeaker…
Prediction: Cardinals 34 Panthers 27
Sports Anchor Collin Harmon
Let me just start by saying I'm torn on predicting how this game will go, I think it's truly a coin flip.
Why the Cardinals will win:
Simply, the Cardinals are the better team. And there is no question about that with the Panthers missing Christian McCaffrey. The Cardinals have far more weapons on offense, and despite the hiccup against the Lions, Kyler Murray will bounce back from his three-interception game and take care of the football against a Carolina defense that ranks in the bottom half of the league in all major categories.
Why the Cardinals will lose:
Injuries, injuries, injuries. No Budda Baker, no Jalen Thompson, no Chris Banjo, Dre Kirkpatrick questionable, Devon Kennard questionable, Christian Kirk game-time decision and DeAndre Hopkins game-time decision. I think Hopkins will be able to play, ultimately, as he has shown throughout his career that he rarely misses a game (only 2 of 115 career games), but that's obviously a huge concern if he can't go considering he's been the focal point of the offense through the first three weeks. And then to say the defensive secondary is thin right now is quite the understatement. They're going to have to patch something together against a Panthers offense that has had success throwing the ball this season with Teddy Bridgewater in his first season in Carolina.
And, do I need to mention the Cardinals don't have a great track record when playing in the early time slot on the East Coast?
Despite all that, I think we see a motivated Cardinals team that is able to find a way to win a road game and get back on track.
Prediction: Cardinals 30, Panthers 27