The three biggest things to watch for Sunday when the Cardinals play the Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore:
Kliff And Kyler, And Turning It Up To 10
Maybe Kliff Kingsbury did get "too cute" with his playcalling. Maybe the Cardinals just weren't prepared for a regular-season game, to run all the plays they wanted/needed to run after trying to stay off the radar in preseason games. But the top theme of the game in Baltimore is going to be simple: What exactly is the Cardinals' offense in terms of production? Is it closer to what they did (or didn't do) the first three quarters, or the explosion of excitement most of the fourth quarter and overtime? Murray's accuracy returned as the game progress, and as Kingsbury simplified his play calls. Running back David Johnson ended up having a good game, and Johnson always was trending as the key of this entire offense. One area where to pay attention: How much "10" personnel (4 WR, 1 RB, 0 TE) do the Cardinals use? They used more against the Lions than the rest of the NFL combined. Kingsbury said that was because they fell behind. But it seems likely the “10” look will be a Cardinals’ staple. The offense – how it looks, what Kingsbury calls, how Murray performs – is going to be in the spotlight most weeks.
Lamar Jackson's Bid To Be Patrick Mahomes
The Ravens handed the quarterback keys to Jackson last season, but the Jackson who ran early and often as a rookie – to much success, as Baltimore made the playoffs – was absent in Week One as he threw five touchdown passes and obliterated the Dolphins. Now, how much of an NFL-quality defense the Dolphins have these days is a matter of debate given the direction of their franchise, but Jackson's confidence in his passing game, especially with the addition of some new receivers, has to be sky-high. The Dolphins, however, seemed to be ultra-sensitive to Jackson's potential of running, which meant there wasn't a ton of pass-rush pressure. The Cardinals have to find that balance. The Ravens insist Jackson's running – he carried only three times last week – will be dictated by what the opposition wants to take away. In which poison do the Cardinals wish to partake? And can Jackson easily replicate his Brady/Manning-esque opener?
Sizzle, Crab And Even Maxx Come Back
The Cardinals have three players who were Ravens last season. One – Terrell Suggs – was a Raven for the last 16 seasons. T-Sizzle, although he is playing it cool, almost has to be feeling significant emotion going into this one. Wide receiver Michael Crabtree had signed a three-year contract with the Ravens last year, and was cut following one season. Crabtree is a man of few words, but I'd guess how that all worked out (or didn't) is going to be on his mind as he plays this game – and it's his season debut as well, so factor that in. Tight end Maxx Williams had his good times in Baltimore, but he had issues staying healthy, and now he's trying to re-start his career in Arizona. How this game turns out for the Cardinals goes well beyond the ex-Ravens, but it's hard to imagine that their return won't have some impact.