CARDINALS AT JAGUARS
- 10 a.m. Sunday
- TIAA Bank Stadium, Jacksonville, Florida
- Line: Cardinals -7.5 (For more details see BetMGM.com)
The three biggest things to watch for Sunday when the Cardinals play the Jaguars at TIAA Bank Stadium in Jacksonville:
Don't Get Trapped
Kliff Kingsbury says he doesn't believe in trap games. Neither does Kyler Murray. We're a long way from the time coach Ken Whisenhunt once hung a bunch of mouse traps around the facility to drive home the message back in the day. The reality is this: The Jaguars have lost 17 straight games, have a first-time NFL head coach and a rookie quarterback. The Cardinals are heavy favorites. They have an important road game in Los Angeles against the Rams the following week. If there was a picture of "trap game" in the dictionary, this would be it. The Cardinals need to be aware – and whether it is pushing for 3-0 this season, or losing at home to a mediocre Lions team after a 2-0 start last season, or just knowing this is a team they need to beat, a win Sunday is crucial given the circumstances.
Stop The Run, Stop The Rookie
James Robinson is a good running back, although not in the class of a Derrick Henry or Dalvin Cook. But after the Cardinals were repeatedly gashed on the ground by the Vikings, Robinson could be Barry Sanders and it would likely be tough to get too productive in the rushing game. Not only do the Cardinals want to make up for their performance last week, but they know that if the Jaguars are forced to pass, they'll be forced to turn to rookie quarterback Trevor Lawrence – and the Cardinals will have a major advantage if everything falls on the shoulders of a rookie QB, regardless of his No. 1 overall status.
Looking To Nuk The Jaguars
First, DeAndre Hopkins has to play, and after missing practice all week, there is some doubt with that. But A.J. Green isn't the only one who thinks Hop doesn't miss games, and after last week, he'll be itching to be out there. Against the Vikings, he had four catches for 54 yards and a touchdown with 5:49 left in the first quarter – and then he wasn't targeted again the rest of the game. In the big picture, it didn't matter. Kyler Murray threw for 400 yards, Maxx Williams and Rondale Moore had big days and the Cardinals won by scoring 34 points. But D-Hop needs touches for this team to get to where it goes. Kliff Kingsbury knows it, and so does Murray. To do it against a Jaguars team that no longer has Jalen Ramsey to harass him when Hop played for the Texans (although Hop still gets Ramsey twice a year with the Rams) creates opportunity. This feels like a game where Nuk can do damage, and after last week, I'd guess the Cardinals would like to make that happen.