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Three Big Things: Broncos Week

A look at the top storylines for Sunday's game


The three biggest things to watch for Sunday when the Cardinals play the Broncos at Empower Field at Mile High in Denver:

Life Without Kyler

Long term there are some – many – things the Cardinals are going to have to figure out while Kyler Murray tries to come back from his torn ACL. Short-term? The Cardinals lost what was most important to the team, which was to get their franchise quarterback headed in the right direction over the last four games. Now, it's seeing what Colt McCoy can do over a month of starts, the longest stretch of starting he'll have since 2011 – when Murray was still in middle school. The Broncos have a good defense. Murray's scrambling ability would have been helpful. But McCoy will find a rhythm with DeAndre Hopkins and Hollywood Brown and, as long as the Cards don't fall behind and let McCoy be a sitting duck like the end of the Patriots game, this offense will find a way to function. They've shown that (and, unfortunately, the offense never was consistent with Murray healthy either.)

Watt's Left On The Defensive Line

The Cardinals needed J.J. Watt to stay healthy this year, and he has. But that was in part to be able to team with Zach Allen on the defensive line, and now Allen is out and after hand surgery, it might be for the rest of the season. Allen is in a tough spot, coming up on free agency and enjoying the best year of his career. But for Sunday, his absence leaves a gaping hole just because of the level of play at which he has been playing. Watt is playing the most snaps of the defensive line, but the other guys – Leki Fotu, Jonathan Ledbetter, Trysten Hill, and maybe some Cameron Thomas in pass rush situations – have to find a way to dull a Broncos attack that isn't very good.

Accountability, And Mistakes That Shouldn't Happen

Kliff Kingsbury’s postgame speech against the Patriots said it all. The dumb mistakes – mind-numbing illegal shifts, not securing the ball, brain freezes at the worst times – cannot happen. And Budda Baker can't be giving emotional speeches all the time either. The way the season is going and with all the noise surrounding this team, from Murray's injury to Steve Keim's absence to games that mean little except for draft position, the leaders have to really lead. It's hard to see the Cardinals going 4-0, but this last stretch isn't impossible. We will see how much pride and professionalism matters.