Know Your Foe: Arizona Cardinals

Team

CHARLOTTE - As NFL teams move into the second half of a long 17-game 2021 season, one of the differentiating factors between contenders and pretenders is certainly injuries and team depth.

That is certainly true for this week's opponent, the 8-1 Arizona Cardinals.

Arizona has the best record in the NFL and top marks on both sides of the ball, but precisely who will be starting this week remains a question mark.

Kyler Murray

INJURIES ON OFFENSE

Quarterback Kyler Murray missed his first game of the season on Sunday with an ankle injury after being held out of practice for most of the week, allowing Colt McCoy to start in his place.

Murray's status for Sunday will evolve throughout a week of practice and will be important to monitor. Last week, McCoy had 249 yards and a touchdown with a rating of 119.4, so he certainly wouldn't be a gigantic step-down if he has to play again.

Prior to Sunday, Murray had the league's fourth-best passer rating at 110.4 with 2,276 passing yards and 17 touchdowns while rushing for another three touchdowns. It's worth noting that Murray is 0-2 in his career against Carolina with two interceptions and nine sacks taken.

Other Cardinals injuries include wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins (hamstring) and running back Chase Edmunds (ankle).

Edmunds was injured on the first play of Sunday's win over the 49ers and didn't return to the game, and it seems like he may be headed to IR.

Edmunds had been averaging 5.66 yards per rush for 430 total yards, while he added an additional 172 yards through the air. In his stead, running back James Conner had 173 scrimmage yards (96 rushing, 77 receiving) and three touchdowns on Sunday.

While Hopkins didn't play on Sunday, he could be back in some form this week. He's had a relatively quiet year as he ranks 33rd in the NFL in receiving yards (486), behind his own teammate Christian Kirk (545).

Hopkins does have seven touchdowns which tie for fourth in the league.

Markus Golden

DEFENSIVE PROWESS

You don't get to an 8-1 record in the NFL without a good defense.

The Cardinals rank fourth in the league in yards allowed (321.0), second in points allowed (15.6), tied for fourth in sacks (25.0), and third in takeaways (17).

Markus Golden is tied for third in the NFL with 9.0 sacks and has a league-best four forced fumbles.

In fact, the Cardinals have four players among the NFL's leaders in forced fumbles with Golden (4), Isaiah Simmons (3), Chandler Jones (2), and Marco Wilson (2).

Budda Baker and Byron Murphy each have three takeaways.

Carolina is 13-5 all-time against the Cardinals, including a 2-1 record in the playoffs.

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