Ahead of Sunday’s matchup against the Cardinals, we’ve got Seth Cox from Revenge of the Birds to help us preview this week’s matchup. As of Saturday morning, the Chargers are still 2.5-point favorites on the road, per DraftKings Sportsbook.
After getting their tail whipped by the Niners, a healthier Cardinals team will look to put up a bigger fight against a Chargers team that also struggles to keep teams out of the end zone.
Curious to see all of Seth’s thoughts on this matchup? Let’s go ahead and jump into the preview.
1.) The Cardinals had to manage without DeAndre Hopkins for the first six weeks of the regular season. Before he returned, Hollywood Brown looked phenomenal but wound up suffering a serious injury which has kept them from both being on the field for any notable amount of time in 2022. There looks to be a chance that both will take the field against the Chargers in week 12 should the Cardinals activate Brown off of injured reserve. If this is the case, what are your expectations for the duo throughout the remainder of the regular season?
At this rate I just hope they get five games together. We knew from the beginning they would need a couple of weeks to get into sync once they started playing together, so hopefully the couple of weeks of practice if Hollywood goes this week will give them something to build on.
The issue becomes more that this offensive line is so beaten up that there may not be an ability to get them into chances of dynamic plays. Most of the plays we have seen the last couple of weeks are short quick passes or maybe a 10-15 yard throw down the field.
When you have four backup offensive linemen starting, including a sixth round rookie and a journeyman center who wasn’t on an active roster until the Cardinals needed him, it makes it tough.
That being said, while there is an outside chance of the Cardinals making the playoffs, the biggest thing will be can Kyler, Hopkins and Brown form a great bond and work to make this offense more dynamic. If that happens then either Kliff keeps his job or it makes the job a little more enticing.
All that said, having a great set of receivers isn’t going to fix the ills of this team.
2.) Arizona just got rolled over by the 49ers on Monday Night Football. The Chargers know exactly how that feels after they lost to the Jaguars by the same score in week three. What exactly happened against San Francisco and what concerns do you believe could seep into this week’s matchup against the Chargers?
Again, four backup offensive linemen and a backup quarterback, a rookie tight end and then you lose the number two receiver on the first play of the game. Maybe with Kyler the game is a little closer, but with Colt the 49ers just teed off in the run game and eventually once it got out of hand, they could just pin their ears back and go after McCoy.
The Cardinals had to pull him for his own good to make sure he stopped taking the major shots he was.
Add to that you have legitimate questions about the effort on defense in the second half and you saw a team that seems to be closer to folding it up and going home than trying to scratch and claw their way back into things.
The biggest question is the defense and if they have the heart to fight back.
They are not a good unit as is, but you have to work with what you have while understanding the offense has not helped you in anyway this season. Giving up because you suck on a series or in a game is embarrassing. Even if the Chargers are hurting, they have enough pride to fight. Can the Cardinals show the same pride and fight back?
3.) Like the Chargers, the Cardinals have one of the worst scoring defenses in the NFL. What are the unit’s biggest issues? How did things get this bad?
Lack of talent. I love J.J. Watt but if he is still your most talented front seven player you are bad. This isn’t a case where you have Khalil Mack as your best player because a Joey Bosa level player is injured, it is the case that literally the most talented player on your front seven is a 33 year old that is not in his prime.
You have young and average at best corners and no pass rush (if Byron Murphy plays he’s legit coming into his own at cornerback but he’s been hurt) which is a recipe for disaster.
So, you have nothing up front then you are trying to keep up with great receivers with average at best cornerbacks who have to cover for four or more seconds nearly every play.
Add to that the front as I mentioned earlier can’t stop the run either and… Magic!
4.) If you were Brandon Staley, how would you go about defending this offense? Which players, aside from Hopkins, should the Bolts worry about the most? On the other side, how would you go about exploiting this defense? Are there any defenders the Chargers should attempt to exploit?
If Kyler is playing rush three or four, spy him with Derwin and force him to get the ball out quick and let his receivers make plays.
You can stuff the box and fill the run if Colt McCoy is playing, knowing he doesn’t offer anything in the run game.
So, if it’s Kyler you want to keep him contained and have someone ready if/when he breaks contain. Derwin James is a capable player to handle that I would think.
If Kyler is playing you have to watch out for James Conner who hasn’t been good this year (who has for AZ) but he and Kyler running the ball can cause issues and you know that the Chargers are not great against the run, so maybe that is the game plan for Arizona?
Do you have a pulse? Then your offense should be fine.
Seriously, if you can run the ball, do it. Austin Ekeler is a hell of a player and will give the Cardinals fits.
Then, like I said earlier, even if Mike Williams and Keenan Allen can’t go it doesn’t matter much as the Cardinals cannot rush the passer, so your other wide receivers should be able to get open fairly routinely as the game goes on.
If you can’t tell, this has been a bad season. Who can you exploit? The lack of pass rush. Like I said, the cornerback room is not terrible, but they are not good enough to play well without a pass rush. Isaiah Simmons has been playing better and Zaven Collins is coming into his own, but Ben Niemann is too slow and won’t be able to get the angles to help against Ekeler and Tanner Vallejo can, but doesn’t consistently make tackles in one-on-one situations.
Long story short… There is not much to worry about in my opinion.
5.) The Chargers are currently 4.5-point favorites over the Cardinals on the road with the over/under set at 47.5. Go ahead and give us a short game prediction, a guess at the final score, and whether or not you’re taking the over or under in this matchup.
Since we asked these questions the line has moved with the likelihood of Kyler Murray playing. It has only moved to Cardinals +3, so the Chargers are still favorites but bettors do like the prospect of Kyler more than Colt.
However, I have not been impressed with anything this season and while the Chargers are not world beaters by any stretch at this point, I still think they are a bit more consistent than the Cardinals in 2022.
So, I think with Kyler playing the Cardinals keep it close, but the Chargers win and we get the over.
Two bad defenses, one at both things while the Chargers are just bad at stopping the run has me guessing the over, but the Chargers will be able to score consistently against the Cardinals.
Chargers 27 - Cardinals 23