Arizona Cardinals Home: The official source of the latest Cardinals headlines, news, videos, photos, tickets, rosters and game day information

Three Big Things: Panthers Week

A look at the top storylines for Sunday's game



The three biggest things to watch for Sunday when the Cardinals play the Panthers at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, N.C.:

Kyler > Baker. Can't Change Now

Kyler Murray and Baker Mayfield were the top pick in the NFL Draft in 2019 and 2018, respectively. By every measurement – statistical, earning a big second contract, head-to-head – Murray has been superior. That doesn't necessarily mean anything Sunday in Carolina. But it should. Mayfield is still trying to get to a comfort level with his new team after a trade from the Browns. Murray is still trying to get his team playing well offensively, period. The Panthers have made life tough for Murray in the past (although Murray missed last year's game with an ankle injury.) In a league about the quarterback, the Cardinals need to make sure their QB again ranks higher on the ex-Oklahoma star scale.

The Containment Of Run CMC

The Cardinals didn't have to face running back Christian McCaffery in 2020. He was hurt. The other two times he's had a chance to play against the Cardinals? He's gained 248 yards on only 37 carries – a scary 6.7 yards a clip. He's also had 13 catches for another 101 yards. Only one touchdown, but he's done damage. If it rains – especially if it rains – the need for running games on both sides only grows. McCaffery is dealing with a thigh issue, so whether or not he's in top shape is TBD. But he's proven he can do damage (and with the loss of Rashard Lawrence and the iffy status of J.J. Watt, the defensive line is beat up for the Cardinals). He'll be the obvious focus of the Cardinals' defense. Yes, McCaffery is officially questionable with a thigh issue that kept him out of two practices this week, but does anyone think he really won't play?

Rain, Rain, Go Away

The last time the Cardinals played in rain it turned out pretty well; the Cards dominated the Bears in Chicago last season. But that was just rain. The Cardinals could be dealing with the remnants of a Hurricane, so there could be wind involved and certainly the potential for heavier wet stuff. Tackle Kelvin Beachum loves the idea that the Cardinals might have to lean on the offensive line and running the ball some more, which figures to be necessary if the weather is that bad. Kyler Murray said the Cardinals "have a plan" if it's bad. At least the game is on turf and not grass, which could get ugly quick in a downpour. Instead, it's which team can handle the elements better.