The three biggest things to watch for Sunday when the Cardinals play the Patriots at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts:
Hoping Kyler Can Shoulder The Load
It's not ideal having the quarterback at less than 100 percent. Then again, 10 games into the season, few players aren't banged up in some way, shape or form. The question is what Kyler Murray's sore right shoulder might mean against the Patriots, if anything. Dinged or not, if Murray is still able to be a part of the running game, if he can still throw some lasers in the pass game, it's just a question of managing the injury. But last year, Murray played with a less-than-100-percent hamstring against the Rams, it took the running part out of his game, and the Cardinals' offense changed significantly. How Murray can operate will determine the direction of this game.
COVID Concerns And An Isabella Opportunity
The Cardinals don't have Larry Fitzgerald for the first time since 2014 thanks to COVID-19, and after Fitz had a nice game last week against the Seahawks, it's a loss that will hurt. Not having fellow receiver Trent Sherfield also dips into the position's depth, as well as losing Sherfield's special teams impact. And what happens going forward? This is where we are in the last six weeks of the regular season – look at the Ravens – where you can only hope cases are isolated. For this game, it opens the door wide for Andy Isabella, who is behind Fitz on the depth chart and figures to get more playing time this week than he has in any other game in his career.
The Battle Up Front
The Cardinals are dealing with more injuries to their defensive line than they would prefer, and are going up against a Patriots team that very well could try and play keep away from the Cards' offense by trying to grind it out on the ground – especially knowing there could be weakness up front. The Cardinals did bring in Domata Peko to try and shore up the depth. But with so many out – Phillips, Peters, Allen, Lawrence, Fotu and now even possible Mauro – the Cardinals are just trying to tread water on the first line of defense. These are the kinds of issues Bill Belichick is famous for exploiting, and the Cards have to find a way to hold up.