The three biggest things to watch for Thursday when the Cardinals play the 49ers at State Farm Stadium:
How Does Drake Fit Into God's Kingsbury's Plan?
The Cardinals are now (likely) without all the running backs on their roster as recently as Week 7 before the Giants game. D.J. Foster has been put on IR. David Johnson and Chase Edmonds are too injured to play. So there is a new trio – Alfred Morris (inactive in New Orleans), Zach Zenner and now, the traded-for Kenyan Drake. Given the price for Drake – along with his skillset -- the Cardinals figure to want to get him involved as much as they can knowing he'll be limited given his prep time. How much can Drake do on short notice? The Cardinals need at least a little bit of a running game against a defense that features the best pass rush in the NFL. Johnson and Edmonds healthy would be the best-case scenario. The Cardinals hoping Drake and Zenner and/or Morris can at least be an OK-case scenario.
Kyler Murray Can't Get Nicked From The Edge
Kyler Murray has been better at taking sacks, and excellent at not turning the ball over. Then again, he has not faced a pass rush like he will Thursday night, nor dealt with Nick Bosa – the man who many thought the Cardinals would take No. 1 overall if they had not selected Murray. Bosa has stayed healthy and has been everything people thought he'd be off the edge – and the Cardinals now might have issues at right tackle given that Justin Murray is dealing with a knee injury. Kyler Murray has the ability to make great escapes out of trouble when the pressure collapses the pocket, but the Cardinals must find a way with which to deal with the Bosa-DeForest Buckner-Arik Armstead-Dee Ford-Solomon Thomas quintet.
Thursday Night, Prime Night, Spotlight
Murray was talking about how much he liked playing on national TV this week. The eyes will be on the Cardinals, in part because of Murray and in part because the 49ers are undefeated and playing defense like they might have a Super Bowl in them. The Cards can't let this get sideways, not like their Thursday night game a year ago when Vance Joseph's Broncos came in struggling and beat up the Cards. Murray can't let this get away from him like the first time he was under the spotlight in the preseason, the ESPN game against the Raiders in which he struggled. The Niners are playing excellent football and the Cards will be decided underdogs, but showing out when everyone is watching can make an imprint – regardless of the final score.